UP BEAR CREEK | Reg Saner and Aaron Abeyta honored at Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival
by Art Goodtimes
Apr 08, 2013 | 2087 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

THIRD YEAR … 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 … 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” … The 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 hear and see the dynamic Judyth Hill of Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, the incomparable 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, Jimi Bernath – I could spend the rest of the column naming them all. An amazing collection of state and regional poets … And the Gourd Circle finale on Sunday morning was among the more powerful listening & shining sessions I’ve ever participated in. On whole, a most amazing event.


CHAMBERLAIN AWARD … I’ve admired Reg Saner for a long time. He’s won lots of awards already, but 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, 1981) at the former Mesa State College in Grand Junction … His poetry has been a powerful influence on me and all Colorado poets who know him. His work takes us through the dazzle of language into the furnace of the natural world … 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 a very kind, humble, humorous poet who spent as much time listening to others at the festival as shining himself … A lot of us will be lobbying the Governor to appoint Reg as the Colorado’s next state Poet Laureate once the wonderful term of current PL Dave Mason is up.


WESTERN SLOPE… 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 … 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 … 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 … Next week’s Talking Gourd will a letter/poem in honor of Aaron that I read at the festival when we made the laureate announcement.






- Inspired by Silverton Mining & Remediation Conference (2012)


from the mother lode of molten

high here in the San Juans

many minerals flow


some into the pure dash

of snowmelt let loose in

steep mountain streams


some harvested with industry

refined, shipped off

for sale & use


our task – hunter/miners

mixing with urban gypsies

natives & transplants


is figuring it out

how to fix old messes

& mine without maiming


yes, for sale & wise use

& for long-term sustainability

providing clean water & base metals


from core lava & solar fusion

what we’ve been given

to take & make valuable


before we pass on

to those who come after

their fair share


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