Poet laureate to visit Fort Lewis College

Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason will read and discuss his poetry Wednesday night at Fort Lewis College. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Christine Mason

Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason will read and discuss his poetry Wednesday night at Fort Lewis College.

If you plan to attend the literary event hosted by Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason on the spring equinox, expect to hear a lively poetic conversation.

Mason’s first visit to Durango will showcase his work with others; his mission, as our current Poet Laureate, is to visit every county in Colorado, sharing his voice with the poetic visionaries of all corners, crags and plains of the Rocky Mountain state.

He will be joined Wednesday evening by Fort Lewis College writing instructor Pam Uschuk, along with nationally acclaimed poet William Pitt Root and San Miguel County’s first Poet Laureate, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. These four poets are Western writers in the best sense: Their work is open, expansive and passionate. They are well-matched, in terms of their intellectual breadth, imagistic strengths and philosophical depths.

David Mason’s literary knowledge and love of the West is finely woven into all of his writing, including four award-winning volumes of poetry and a libretto for a forthcoming opera, “The Scarlet Letter.” His verse novel, Ludlow, was named best poetry book of 2007 by the Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, then awarded the Colorado Book Award. The essays in his collections The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry and Two Minds of a Western Poet, as well as his recently published memoir, News from the Village: Aegean Friends, generously reminisce about poetic influences. Mason serves as a mentor and influence to other writers as co-editor of several textbooks and anthologies, including Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry and Twentieth Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry.

Uschuk has been cited in the Bloomsbury Review as “one of the most insightful and spirited poets today.” The three poems recently awarded first prize in the 2011 War Poetry contest reveal a fine balance of Uschuk’s devastating honesty and heartbreaking empathy. She has authored five poetry books, has published in more than 300 journals and anthologies worldwide and is translated into nearly a dozen languages.

TheNew York Times described Root’s prize-winning poetry as “rangy, virile poetry with flair and sophistication; his clarity and poise, as much as his pungency and force, startle.” Root’s work has been translated into 20 languages, and he’s been awarded grants from several endowments, including the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Trommer is the youngest of the quartet and brings a melodic, unique voice to the evening. She performs with Telluride’s eight-woman a cappella group, Heartbeat, and infuses much of her writing – including her most recent book, The Miracle Already Happening: Everyday Life with Rumi – with a harmonic capacity that is both ancient and contemporary at once. Her poetry has appeared in O magazine and on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and she’s been featured in a number of anthologies, including Geography of Hope: Poets of Colorado’s Western Slope and An Elevated View: Colorado Writers on Writing.

The poetic convergence of these fine writers will be preceded by a reception in the Fort Lewis College Student Union Ballroom. Their audience will be entertained and engaged, with the poets entreating them to join the conversation. It promises to be a convivial evening.

Marie-Elise Wheatwind is a visiting librarian and assistant professor at Fort Lewis College. Reach her at wheatwind_m@fortleiws.edu.