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Friday, April 12, 2013

Aaron Abeyta Named New Western Slope Poet Laureate

Aaron Abeyta reading at the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival, 2012

Colorado, Denver, the Pike’s Peak Region, San Miguel County – many regions and jurisdictions have begun honoring poets by naming them to the honorary position of poet laureate. San Miguel County has Elle Metrick of Norwood as its laureate, the Pike’s Peak Region has Price Strobridge, Chris Ransick’s term as Denver’s laureate ended in 2010 but funding cuts have precluded the naming of another so far, and Colorado College poet/prof Dave Mason is the state’s much-esteemed laureate.
Elle Metrick

Western Colorado has always been a long ways from the urban centers of the Front Range, and has sometimes been overlooked in the field of arts. But poetry has been a vibrant and powerful practice on the Western Slope – hosting a number of poetry festivals over the years: Talking Gourds in Telluride, Sparrows in Salida, the Festival of the Imagination in Del Norte, and now the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale.
Chris Ransick

By way of celebrating that fact, the festival named a Western Slope Poet Laureate two years ago. In a stealth move that caught me by surprise, I was honored with that title. And now, the laurels pass over to a new Western Slope Poet Laureate – Aaron Abeyta. Award-winning poet and professor at Adams State College in Alamosa, Aaron’s family hails from many generations in the San Luis Valley’s Antonito community.
Dave Mason

Here's a letter poem for Aaron that I read at the festival when we made the laureate announcement.

a letter to Aaron
as the sun rises en nuestros corazones

let us begin with a prayer
because everything we invite into our lives
sits at the table of the sacred

in nomine madre tierra
et padre cielo
et spiritus pueblo

here at Cloud Acre
on the cusp of the San Juan Mountains
and the Colorado Plateau
the grass still sleeps in its gray and gold
though change is in the air
the wild punishing winds
that test our allegiance to spring
gusts that sweep the mesa clean
like a mad dowser searching for water
the flowering we can’t see yet
but that we wind-blown ones
believe will come
and humbly share as a ray of hope

this is the time of year
when our eyes search for anything green
some sign of life born of water
and sun
that golden orb of all our inspirations
reflected in the light that pours
from our body’s solar plexus
to protect us from the harm
that spins its devils in the dust
and to warm the world
into yielding us its cornucopia of gifts

the mantle of this award comes
from just such a gifting
the promise of Colcha you wove
into our minds as a cape of many colors
a path of many ways
a multi-ethnic design flourishing
out of the fabric of many craftings

Aaron, I have seen a horse’s eye
the galaxies and nebulae
in that deepest brown
that is skin and mud and the land
that we love
married as we are to earth
to each other
to this place called Colorado
its ancient reds its skies beyond blue
and the invading whites of winter

your voice is la primavera
four syllables that inspire us
to bud
to bring our best green into being
yours are the seeds our love is made of
in the sunlight of your lyric valuables
in the poems you fashion for us
like a child’s mud cakes
on the banks of the San Miguel
we grow playful
and are inspired to work
at what is most important
the messy pigments of truth-telling
those lessons nature affords us
the real opportunity to learn

and so we share this honor with you
that you may go on inspiring
the many adams and eves
longing for los colores en sus ojos
the fire in your belly

and this green we set above your brow
is meant not so much as crown
but as beacon
un rayo de esperanza

1 comment:

  1. My girlfriend is a natural blue head.
    A virgin, with a pierced labia.
    Not so much a dog walker, as a member of their pack.
    Pop rock & infinity pools.
    Goose stepping backwards; rewinding history's odometer.
    Selling it as new.

    -Marc Breed
    An Ohio Poet Laureate candidate