Academics and Research

University College’s Joseph Hutchison named Colorado’s new poet laureate

Joseph Hutchinson, left, shakes hands with Gov. Hickenlooper during the ceremony in which he was named Colorado's new poet laureate. Photo: Will Jones

Joseph Hutchison, left, shakes hands with Gov. Hickenlooper during the ceremony in which he was named Colorado’s new poet laureate. Photo: Victoria Harben

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper today introduced Joseph Hutchison of Indian Hills, Colo., as the state’s eighth poet laureate. Hutchison is faculty and interim director for arts and culture and global affairs at University College at the University of Denver.

“This feels fantastic,” Hutchison said. “I grew up in Colorado, and it’s exciting to be recognized with this great honor. I’ve written poetry for many years. Being poet laureate means an opportunity for me to help develop awareness of poetry, and to help teachers across the state to integrate more creative work, such as poetry, into the context of their daily lessons. My passion is to really help those teachers to expose this art form to the students.”

The poet laureate serves as an advocate for poetry, literacy and literature statewide. Hutchison will carry on the tradition and duties over the next four years by presenting the opening poem for the Colorado General Assembly legislative session, visiting schools and libraries across the state, reading at literary festivals and presenting poetry at public events.

Hutchison is the author of 15 collections of poems, including “Marked Men,” “Thread of the Real,” “The Earth-Boat” and “Bed of Coals,” winner of the Colorado Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in more than 100 journals and more than 25 anthologies. Hutchison has co-edited two anthologies, “Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai” and “A Song for Occupations: Poems about the American Way of Work,” and he blogs about literary matters at The Perpetual Bird, which he founded in 2006. A collection of his satirical poems and another of translations from the Spanish of Mexican fabulist Miguel Lupián are forthcoming in 2015.

“Joe’s poetry is so beautiful,” Hickenlooper said at the announcement ceremony. “It goes from the sublime and the very intellectual to the very simple and direct. Joe also has the willingness and ability to reach out and connect to everyone in all walks of life with his poetry. He is a great poet, and he is an everyman’s poet, an everywoman’s poet. The state has a bonanza with Joe Hutchison as its poet laureate.”

Aside from an early stint as a book buyer for a university bookstore, Hutchison has made his living as a commercial writer/editor and educator. He currently teaches graduate courses in writing and literature at University College. Born in Denver, Hutchison lives in the mountains southwest of the city with his wife, Melody Madonna.

The governor also thanked David Mason for serving as Colorado’s seventh poet laureate from 2010–14. Colorado was the second state in the country, after California, to name a poet laureate. Alice Polk was named the first Colorado poet laureate in 1919.

Colorado’s poet laureate program is a partnership between the Colorado Creative Industries Division and Colorado Humanities. The selection is based on artistic excellence, a demonstrated history of community service in the advancement of poetry, and the ability to present poetry effectively.

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