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2014 Media Releases

University of Denver Professor Named Colorado’s New Poet Laureate

Sept. 9, 2014—Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today introduced Joseph (Joe) Hutchison of Indian Hills as the state’s newest, and eighth, poet laureate. Hutchison is faculty and interim director for Arts & Culture and Global Affairs at University College at the University of Denver.

“Joe’s poetry is so beautiful. It goes from the sublime and the very intellectual to the very simple and direct,” said Governor John Hickenlooper during this morning’s press conference. “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.”

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. The Colorado Poet Laureate program is a partnership between Colorado Creative Industries and Colorado Humanities/Center for the Book. A panel reviews nominations and makes recommendations to the governor for final selection. The selection of Poet Laureate is based on artistic excellence, a demonstrated history of community service in the advancement of poetry, and the ability to present poetry effectively.

“This feels fantastic. I grew up in Colorado. It’s exciting to be recognized with this great honor,” said Hutchison. “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 Governor also thanked David Mason for serving as Colorado’s seventh poet laureate from 2010 through this year. Colorado was the second state in the country, after California, to name a poet laureate. Alice Polk was the first Colorado poet laureate in 1919.

Additional Background About Joseph Hutchison & the Colorado Poet Laureate Program:

Joseph Hutchison 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 over 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 (with Gary Schroeder), and he continues to produce a literary blog, 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.

Aside from an early stint as a book buyer for a university bookstore, Hutchison has made his living as a commercial writer/editor and itinerant educator. He currently teaches graduate courses in writing and literature at the University of Denver’s University College, where he also serves as Interim Academic Director of Arts & Culture and Global Affairs. Born in Denver, Hutchison lives in the mountains southwest of Denver with his wife, Iyengar yoga instructor Melody Madonna.

Colorado was the second state in the nation to appoint a poet laureate. Alice Polk Hill was appointed in 1919 and served until she died in 1921. Nellie Burget Miller served 1923-1952; Margaret Clyde Robertson served 1952-1954; Milford E. Shields served 1954-1975; and Thomas Hornsby Ferril served 1979-1988. Mary Crow has served 14 years, from 1996-2010.

Colorado’s poet laureate program is supported by the Colorado Creative Industries Division and Colorado Humanities. Click on and to learn more.