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Luis Alberto Urrea comfortably dishes metaphor. More and more, he's pretty good at dispensing medical counsel, as well.

"Lately, I've found myself an unwilling pundit, go-to expert on heat death, whereas I used to be leading poetry workshops," the acclaimed author says.

Urrea's The Devil's Highway, a nonfiction account of the border-crossing journey of 24 Mexican men, was recently nominated for a Pulitzer, catapulting the Tijuana-born, California-raised, University of Colorado-graduated, University of Illinois professor to point-man for journalists and yap-radio hosts spinning their wheels in the increasingly murky mound of immigration-debate muck.

This week he's stepping right in it as the keynote speaker for the Celebration of Democracy, a progressive soiree hosted by Be the Change USA, the political action committee spawned from the failed but emotionally momentous senatorial primary campaign of Fountain educator Mike Miles.

Urrea plans to discuss "shifts in border paradigm that are buried in the immigration info. We never get the full story," he says. "The purest answer is 'follow the money.'

"One of my main points is, the city that figures out the immigration has already happened -- it's a fait accompli -- is going to be the city that leads. You're either the engine or the caboose. There's no middle to the train."

Urrea, who delivers his latest offering, The Hummingbird's Daughter, as a novel, is always happy to return to Colorado, his "favorite place."

"The Motherland!" he exclaims. "My stuff is still in storage in south Boulder."

Urrea's address will cap a day of Dem activity, Colorado-style, including workshops on referenda C and D, an info-session by bachelor number one/House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a performance by folk goddess Nina Story, Air America's Nodak rep Ed Schulz and Denver brainstemming talk host Jay Marvin, among others.

-- Vanessa Martinez

capsule

Luis Alberto Urrea at Celebration of Democracy

Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. 6th Ave., Golden

Saturday, July 30, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $30; visit btc-usa.org.

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