Friday, July 13, 2012

The Chuck Calabreze, uh, Issue

It's no secret that I often appear as Chuck Calabreze, a character I created at least partly to lampoon myself. A number of people have asked about Chuck's role in the laureateship. Understandable. The dude's fun to have around. But I, Jon Davis, am the Poet Laureate. And I have assured the folks at the Arts Commission that Chuck would not, for example, show up at the Mayor's Inauguration, shambling onstage with crumpled poems tucked into his mismatched boots.Though even as I made the promise, I became fascinated by the idea of Chuck as court jester . . . But, no, Chuck won't be reading at any public events. He'll be around. He's always around. But he's not, as he likes to think, the co-Poet Laureate. He's the Po├Ęte maudit of Santa Fe. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Officially Official

Okay. It's officially official now and I can speak of it. I'll serve the City of Santa Fe as Poet Laureate for the next two years. 

My thoughts immediately turn to the social purpose of poetry and a quote from Carl Jung that I have carried with me for a while: 

"Therein lies the social significance of art: It is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is more lacking. The unsatisfied yearning of the artist reaches back to the primordial image in the unconscious, which is best fitted to compensate the inadequacy and one-sidedness of the present. The artist seizes on this image and, in raising it from deepest unconsciousness, he brings it into relation with conscious values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries according to their powers."

It seems both correct and too large a claim, especially in these days of modest claims, but if it is at least partly true, then I'd propose that one of the "primordial images" I've brought back from the unconscious over and over is the image of the inward person, the contemplative. Our culture is all about performance and action and surface, and I certainly participate in that culture, but I worry about the loss, in myself and others, of quiet and stillness and reflection. So that will be one important theme of my laureateship. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Poet Laureate of Santa Fe

The press release goes out today, Wednesday, July 11, 2012, so I assume that tomorrow is day one of my tenure as Poet Laureate of Santa Fe. But I am in Marfa, Texas, occupying one of the Lannan Foundation's beautiful houses for 33 days, working on poems, stories, translations, and whatever else occurs. So this feels a little strange.

The last two months have been more than a little out of the ordinary, since I have been traveling, first with the University of Iowa's International Writing Program in Cambodia and Vietnam, then on to Barrow, Alaska, to work with a former student on a young adult novel. After a quick stop in Fairbanks to visit some poet friends and their (so far non-poet) daughters, I returned to Santa Fe and the excitement of my own daughter's wedding to her then fiance, now husband, Mike at the Scottish Rite Temple. After two weeks in Santa Fe, I shipped out again, this time to the quiet, small town of Marfa, Texas, population 2121, which to add strangeness to oddness, was temporary home to the vacationing Beyonce, about whom I know almost nothing, except that she sure caused a stir among the locals.

So knowing that I'll be Poet Laureate of Santa Fe feels more than a little surreal right now.  I'm honored. I'm looking forward to getting started. But, hey, I'm in Marfa, Texas!