On 9 September 2014, Colorado Humanities announced Joseph Hutchison as the Poet Laureate of Colorado. Nominated by fellow poet Anita Jepson-Gilbert in late 2013, there were several things Hutchison had to do in order to be considered for the position.
“I had to submit a CV, two of my books, and a statement about what I would do if I were to be named Poet Laureate,” Hutchison said. “The last item was the hardest, and I wrote it without imagining it would lead to anything.”
A few months after submitting all the materials, Hutchison was informed by Colorado Humanities that he was short listed; then on 23 July 2014, just two days after starting a new job as Interim Academic Director of Arts & Culture and Global Affairs at University College, University of Denver, he was told he had been chosen as Poet Laureate.
“After that there were three weeks of hoopla. Interviews in print and on radio, a flood of congratulatory emails and requests for me to appear and talk about poetry,” Hutchison said. “For someone who’s working out of the limelight forever, it was a little disorienting.”
As Poet Laureate of Colorado, Hutchison aims to promote awareness of poetry as an art form around the state and especially in the schools, as well as promote awareness of Colorado’s poets, poetry publishers and arts organizations that involve the poetic arts. “Essentially,” Hutchison writes in a statement, “poetry outreach should include the Poet Laureate, not be solely about the Poet Laureate.”
As a writer for close to 50 years, starting in 8th grade with stories influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and continuing in 11th grade with poetry influenced by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Hutchison continues his writing journey with Folded Word. In 2012, we first published a series of poems by Hutchison in a chapbook titled The Earth-Boat that starts from a mountain in Colorado, travels to Mexico, and returns to the U.S. via Venice, California. The Earth-Boat will be re-released in a revised second edition on Valentines Day 2015. Later this year we will also be publishing Hutchison’s translation of Ephemeral by Miguel Lupián, and a humorous collection of Hutchison’s poems in The Satire Lounge.
“Unsurprisingly, [The Satire Lounge] consists of satirical poems, mostly about the U.S. poetry scene —which is something of a comedy these days, but of the Keystone Cops variety: billy-club konkings and car wrecks with nobody really getting hurt,” Hutchison said.
For the future, Hutchison’s biggest wish for poetry in Colorado is that it continues to thrive.
“We’re in the midst of a renaissance, though the audience for poetry remains quite small,” Hutchison said. “There are two, maybe three, significant publishers of poetry based here. But the work doesn’t reach deeply into the schools, which is where the future is created — the future for poets and for the audience.”