Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Colorado’s eighth and newest poet laureate today, Joseph Hutchison, a Colorado native who lives in Indian Hills.
A former poet in the schools, Hutchison said that great public school teachers fostered his love of poetry.
“They were the ones who got me to read the rich stuff and develop the desire to want to write the rich stuff if I could,” said Hutchison. “I want to focus on developing resources for teachers to integrate poetry into the classroom. Poems have contained the best, deepest critical thinking about human life on this planet.”
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Hickenlooper, who reportedly brought several volumes of poetry with him on his most recent personal vacation in order to give time and weight to the prestigious four-year appointment, said the accessibility and optimism of Hutchison’s work stuck a deep chord with him. Hickenlooper lauded Hutchison as not just a great poet, but an “everyman’s” poet.
“The way he looks at poetry is kind of the way I look at politics and at life,” said Hickenlooper. “He is so open and his poetry is positive, there’s a certain optimism there. Not every poet writes that way.”
Colorado’s retiring Poet Laureate, Professor Dave Mason of Colorado College, highlighted Hutchison’s versatility, honoring his work recording and complicating the history of the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado.
Said Mason of Hutchison’s book of poems, Marked Men, “Since the earliest times the poet has been our first historian, telling the stories that make us who were are.”
Meet Joe: Hutchison graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. He has published eight chapter books and seven full-length poetry books as writer and two full-length books as editor. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Poetry Now, Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), The Little Review, Yes Magazine and more.
[Image of Hutchison reading his “Black-footed Albatross” by Tessa Cheek]