Friday afternoon a friend and I arrived at Silver Star, a guest house in Crestone, Colorado, at 8000 feet, the whole San Luis Valley spread out before us. We were in town for the first-ever Crestone Poetry Fest and the event was both a fest and a feast. Our stay at Silver Star was warm and welcoming, hosted by Carolyn Brown. The rest of the excitement was in the village, mostly at the Crestone Charter School, a most creative venue. I couldn’t count the participants–they moved too fast–but I would guess a hundred or so moved through the workshops and readings.
High-school students ran the snack and coffee bar; we met in classrooms and in the all-purpose gym. We heard an amazingly varied array of speakers and readers. People sang, danced, read and recited. Poets sold books and readers bought books. Some of us traded books. It was a full-emersion experience arranged and hosted by Peter Anderson and his troop of magicians who rowed that poetry boat home.
Obviously, I’m not telling you this to get you there. Too late for that. (Although I’d bet good money it happens again next year.) No, I want to ease your fears that poetry doesn’t matter. The audience–which was also the cast of characters–included all colors, all backgrounds, all ages. There was even a dog there, wrapped in a blanket, held on the pup’s parents’ laps. So when you fear that poetry is dead in America, take a deep breath and think Crestone. Leaving there on Sunday was reentry into a more common atmosphere after the rarified space of poems, poems, poems.