Voice of the Students

El Diablo

Voice of the Students

El Diablo

Voice of the Students

El Diablo

“Something to Say”: Zoe Golden, DGO’s First Rising Poet Laureate

Zoe Golden reading some of her poems at the “Evening with Durango Poet Laureates” which was on February 26, 2024. She is Durango’s first Rising Poet Laureate.

DHS junior, Zoe Golden, made Durango history recently by becoming Durango’s first Rising Poet Laureate. A poet laureate is an accomplished poet who is hired, often by a town or country, to write and read poetry for special occasions. Along with Zoe Golden, Esther Belin became Durango’s first Poet Laureate. The positions of Poet Laureates will last three years each, and they started this past January. 

At a recent event at the Durango Public Library where the new Poet Laureates read some of their work, Golden started by reading two of what she called her “activist poems” and then read multiple others, including one about a trip to Canada. After her, Esther Belin read several of her poems covering things like her Diné background and language as well as the Durango community and how it has affected her. 

They then answered questions about their positions and poetry in general. Golden, when asked about her vision for her role as Rising Poet Laureate during the Q+A stated that it was to, “…bring more poetry to people my age first and foremost. Because teenagers, you know, we’re not really into the whole writing or reading thing.” She added that, “I feel like I’ve found a lot of who I am through my writing process and I think the world would be a lot better place if other people could do the same, starting at a younger age,” and “…I feel like this is a big cultural movement for Durango. I think we are very outdoor based and invested and it’s really cool to be able to be a part of something that is artistic.”

Golden was also asked how she would make poetry more accessible and relatable for people who don’t necessarily enjoy it. One of her ideas was to have a piece of art in the community that incorporates poetry or just words. 

Belin was asked how her poetry has changed over the years and one of her comments was that she is now, “…being very intentional with form.” When talking about her upcoming projects she added that, “Right now…working a lot with the Navajo writers…to help get some of their work published and do workshops with them.”

Then, both Golden and Belin were asked about how they got into poetry and what keeps them passionate. Golden first got into poetry in 3rd grade when her teacher made the class do a poetry unit. Golden said that, “I wrote a poem called ‘can colors smell?’ I just found it recently and I mean wow, I didn’t realize I was so good in 3rd grade.” Her teacher thought it was so good that she made her read it at the school-wide talent show. “I think that was the first time I really felt like…I had a voice and I had something to say,” she said of the experience. She has since continued to write as well as publish her work in the Cambridge Hall of Poetry Magazine. 

Belin started writing poems when she took a 12th grade creative writing class, which she admitted she wasn’t the most enthusiastic about at the time. She stated, “…I think the biggest thing that was challenging was that I didn’t realize I had so much to say,” and “poetry has really been reciprocal in the love, it has treated me well and it helps me find my voice.”

“I am just thrilled to hear Zoe read and hear her ideas and I say this to my students all the time at the college, I mean they just give me hope, when I hear their ideas and all the energy they have,” said Belin, who also teaches at Fort Lewis, about the people she teaches and Golden. 

Going to this event was super cool for me because I vividly remember the first time I heard Golden read her poetry. We were on a bike trip in the middle of nowhere as it was about to snow and I was just in awe of her talent. She was able to put together words and speak in a way that I could never understand. Hearing her read still continues to amaze me. The “Evening with Durango Poet Laureates” event was the first time I had heard Belin read her poetry aloud and I fell in love with it as well. I highly recommend going to events where they will be doing poetry readings, seriously, it is so, so powerful. 

You can see their upcoming events on the Durango Public Library website (durangoco.gov/1749/Library) or Instagram (@durangopubliclibrary).

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