On April 2, City Council made a proclamation to name Veronica Patterson as Loveland’s first-ever poet laureate. The purpose of a poet laureate is to seek greater appreciation of poetry in the community and to compose poetry for special occasions and recognitions. The distinction will also be named after her for recipients in the future: the Veronica Patterson Poet Laureate Award. The Loveland Museum is hosting her first reading as poet laureate on Thursday evening. We sat down with Patterson to learn more:
When did you first start writing poetry?
In many ways, I’ve written poetry my whole life, but I began writing it more seriously in the mid 1970s when my husband and I lived in the Chicago area. That deeper impetus came out of loss. But the ability to express grief in words helps lead one back to love and joy—and a more vivid and intense sense of the world.
What inspires most of your poetry?
Poetry is rooted in attention and wonder, inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere: the natural world (seeing a migrating pelican in the air or on a lake), the human world we’re part of, in all its hardships and delights, the play of light and shadow around us, music, visual art, dance, poetry.
Who are your favorite poets?
Because my favorite poets have formed a cloud of witnesses over the centuries of poetry I’ve read and studied, my favorite poet is the one whose poem I’m inside and alive to at any given moment. A few favorites include the Williams (Blake, Shakespeare, Yeats, Stafford), Emily Dickinson, Lisel Mueller, Jane Hirshfield, and Mary Oliver, as well as poets who are currently speaking to our culture in new and striking ways–Ross Gay and Ada Limón among them.
What does it mean to you to be Loveland’s first Poet Laureate?
My husband, Evan, was born in Loveland. I grew up in Ithaca, New York, a terrain of deep gorges, long lakes, and steep hills. But coming to Loveland and finding pleasure in the mountains, on the trails, among aspen in autumn, as well as through teaching, close friends, and writing have made this beautiful place home, which makes it an honor and a pleasure to be Loveland’s First Poet Laureate.
How can the community become more involved in reading/writing poetry?
Poetry—and finding our voices through writing—saves lives. Our first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, said in an interview, “I had to find my voice, I think, in order to live.” Poetry, like all the arts, brings us alive to the earth and the cosmos, to others, both here and elsewhere, to what it means to be human, to the challenges we face and what we value. It increases the wonder that informs us. So we are creating readings to bring more poetic voices to Loveland, going into schools with poetry, developing a Poet Laureate Bookshelf at the Loveland Public Library, offering more opportunities for open-mike and spoken-word opportunities, offering writing workshops anyone can attend. When you see a poetry event at the Loveland Museum or the Loveland Public Library, come and enjoy it!
Anything you would like to add about Thursday’s event?
The typewriters we’ll have there are great fun, we’re preparing to launch a high-school poetry competition for the Thompson School District, and the poems you’ll hear may include swans, dogs, love, elk, brothers, trees, stars… and more