I am thrilled to let everyone know that my friend and fellow poet Lois Hayna has been awarded the Colorado Authors’ League’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations, Lois!
I first met Lois when she joined a poetry workshop I taught for now defunct Rocky Mountain Writers Guild back in the mid-1970s. I was fresh out of grad school and had no business teaching, but to be honest, I didn’t do a lot of that; I did what in corporatese is known as “facilitation.” The workshop happened to attract a number of strong writers, and all I had to do was keep the discussions on track and toss out, on occasion, a witticism or reading recommendation.
When Lois came into the workshop it quickly became apparent to everyone that her voice and her concerns were unique. She had written poetry in her youth before yielding to the pressures of family life, and only in her 60s was she picking up that golden thread again. I never saw any of her early work, but the new work she brought before us was magical, musical, strange in the way that good poetry is always strange*, and humane to the core. Here is a list of the books she’s published since—that is, over the last (gulp) four decades:
Keeping StillThe Praying MantisCasting Two ShadowsView from Behind the Mirror: New and Selected PoemsNorthern GothicNever Trust a CrowA Book of Charms
There may be others that have slipped by me, but these are the essentials. Here’s hoping that some prescient publisher will bring out a Lois Hayna Collected within the foreseeable future. And, of course, within Lois’s lifetime. This past January she turned 101, which—if my poor math skills serve—places the date of her birth in 1913. What a span! And how grateful we should be that in the middle of her life’s journey she returned to poetry.
[See the next post for a sampling of Lois’s poetry.]
* René Char, in “Formal Share,” advises: “Develop your legitimate strangeness.” And Helen Waddell, writing about Ausonius, remarks that his “Fields of the Sorrowful Lovers” has “that strangeness without which beauty is not made perfect.”
Joseph Hutchison, Colorado Poet Laureate 2014-2019, has published 17 books, including a translation of flash fictions by Mexican author Miguel Lupián, and co-edited two anthologies. He lives in the mountains southwest of Denver, Colorado, the city where he was born. He teaches at the University of Denver's University College, where he currently directs three programs: Professional Creative Writing, Arts & Culture Management, and Global Community Engagement.