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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reg Saner Receives first Chamberlain Award in Carbondale Aaron Abeyta named second Western Slope Poet Laureate

        Thanks to the dedication and drive of Valerie Haugen and Lon Winston of the Thunder River Theatre Company, Carbondale hosted its third annual Western Slope poetry festival this past weekend. Named for Karen Chamberlain, the event celebrates the continuing inspiration that Karen provided for many poets – not only in the Roaring Fork Valley where she made her home, but around Colorado and the region.

Uche Ogbuchi leads workshop outside

       Karen was founder of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, coordinator of the Canyonlands Field Institute Desert Writers Workshop near Moab, winner of the 1983 The Nation Discovery Prize and the 1989 Colorado Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and poetry editor of the Mountain Gazette for five years. She was often a visitor to Telluride, as well as a colleague and personal friend of mine. As Valerie is quoted in the Aspen Times as saying, ““What struck me about Karen was how wise she was and how kind she was. She thought everyone should write. In the last week of her life, she even helped someone finish his book”
Judyth Hill

       This year's fest squeezed in lots of performance slots for established veterans and all ages of newbies. While of course there were stand-outs, the reigning ethos honored everyone willing to perform, and the audience listened attentively to each and every diverse voice.

       It was great to catch the dazzling wobble that is Judyth Hill of Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, the trickster/heckler/sage Jack Mueller of Ridgway, fellow emcee Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville,  Stewart Warren of Albuquerque, Wendy Videlock, Uche Ogbuchi, Rachel Kellum, Kit Muldoon, Trinity La Fay, Danny Rosen, Bob King, Jimi Bernath, Airica Parker, M.D. Friedman, Laurie James, Jared Smith, Erika Moss Gordon, Valerie Szarek, Debbi Brody, SETH, Jeff Spahr-Summers, Roseanna Frechette, Eric and Jacob Walter, Bill Kight, Sandra Dorr, Rick Kempa, Mark Todd, Word Horde, Patrick Curry, and more.

Young performer

I could spend the rest of the column just naming names. It was an amazing collection of state and regional poets -- all of whom gave short but spirited presentations.

And the Gourd Circle finale on Sunday morning was among the more powerful listening and shining sessions I’ve ever participated in. For poetry on Colorado's Western Slope, this was a landmark event.
New Western Slope Poet Laureate Aaron Abeyta


       I’ve long admired Reg Saner. He’s published widely in national and regional magazines, been invited to international poetry festivals, and won lots of awards already. I’ve been wanting to bring him out to the Western Slope for years. In fact, almost 30, since I first heard him read from So This Is The Map (Random House) at the former Mesa State College in Grand Junction in 1984, the year my oldest daughter was born.
Reg Saner

       His poetry has been a powerful influence on me and those familiar with his work. His books of poetry and essays employ a rich forest of language tossed into the furnace of the natural world to bring us heat, and warmth, and insight. It was a great honor to be able to award him the first Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Poetic Achievement here in Colorado.

       On top of everything, Reg is an exceedingly kind, genuinely humble, wisely humorous elder who spent more time listening to the young and old others at the festival than in shining himself, although when he read, he really did shine. There’s a lot of Reg's friends who will be lobbying the Governor to appoint him as Colorado’s next state Poet Laureate once the wonderful term of current PL Dave Mason has expired. I would encourage you to join us in that effort. 
Valerie Szarek and Jimi Bernath doing flute and haiku

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