Last night felt like what summer nights in Santa Fe are meant to be. Bob Chavez drove our pedicab round the Plaza. The poetry Valerie Martines & Gabriela Ortiz were in turn elegant and embarrassed. The major was there, lots of friends, two great bands, the guy who bought my mom's car. It was a full house.
My grand-daughter, Kaylee, held my POet Laureate sign on stage. I forgot to introduce here. She got a little tired and turned the sign upside down, but that was cool. Afterwards at San Francisco Bar and Grill she said, eerily channeling the Hungarian aunties or my mother, "I'm so proud of you." Then she looked deeply into my eyes and said, "Don't lose a bit of it." All three of my grandkids were there, and that means the most to me.
Michael, my consort, is back from two weeks in Wisconsin. It was a good welcome home party on the plaza. The giant pencil got him lots of comment as he walked around downtown Santa Fe. Everybody evidently loves a giant pencil. What next? Kathleen has already made a giant sumie paint brush. Giant paperclips. Giant calculators. Giant pop-up note dispenser.
Here is my induction speech:: Thanks to Valerie, who did an outstanding job, 52 events of great quality, as our Poet Laureate. Thanks also to David Lescht and the Bandstand, for making the Plaza a place of community again. Speical thanks to Santa Fe Arts Commission, especially Sabrina Pratt, for sponsoring the Poet Laureate Program a rarity among cities.
Thanks to New Mexico Literary Arts, our board that keeps the grass green in grass roots arts organizations.
Thanks to my friend Bob Chavez, pedicab driver by day, nightsky and lightening photographer by night. He changed his schedule for us. And the Poetry Paparazzi, I never thought I’d get to say that.
Poet, Anne Sexton, said we are writing a communal poem. I wanted to thank not just the two preceding Poet Laureates, Arthur Sze and Valerie Martinez, but the many fine Santa Fe Poets who are friends and colleagues. They are writing in coffee shops and colleges, they are publishing everywhere and starting literary magazine, they are both well known or below the radar. They are reading in apple orchards and homes in Chupedero, as well as independent bookstores. We have a great audience for poetry, the Lannan Foundation readings at the Lensic often fills the house at 850. We have book stores which stock poetry and teachers who put stock in poetry, who welcome poets into their classrooms in programs such as Poets-in-the-Schools, and Artworks. Thanks to Culturenet, Alex Traube and again Arts Commission who has sheltered Artworks until recently when Partners in Education took it on.
Tonight ushers in a new era in poetry, where children fall in love with poems, adults support each other’s work unceasingly, and the youth are coolest of all because that is teenagers’ job. A time when SLAM, coffeeshop, Lannan, grassroots, spoken word, page poets, and IAIA readings serve the hearts, minds, and souls for a literate and literary Santa Fe. Or maybe it’s not so much a new era as bringing to awareness that Santa Fe is an epicenter of poetry. We are a UNESCO city of arts excellence, with the highest percentage of writers in the work force of any city. Let’s keep writing that communal poem. We are a city of poems/city of poets. Metaphors be with you!
Here is a poet of the FUTURE, 8th grader Gabriela Ortiz of Santa Fe Girls’ School with her Ars Poetica, poem on the art of poetry.
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