The Laureate Debate Continues
In response to Gregory Pleshaw’s letter "Angry Laurels" from the June 25-July 1 issue of the Alibi: Stop lying. We attended the Slam Laureate Finals at the KiMo Theatre, and to claim that those judges were “picked from the audience” is insulting and dishonest. At the beginning of the night we heard a brief bio of each judge, and every single one was a professional poetry editor or critic of some sort. So it’s no surprise to us that they awarded the victory to the most professional poet present that night in Danny Solis. And while we all agree that Danny will be an excellent slam poet laureate for our city, I highly doubt you'll find a single unbiased person from the audience who would honestly say Danny was the best slam poet there that night. If the organizers plan on holding future slam laureate competitions, will they please show some respect for their audience by following slam tradition of letting a genuine and diverse mix of audience members select the winner?
I write in response to last night. While many of you were playing under the night light of Albuquerque, I was cradled against the belly of a pink rock mesa, resting in the bouldered arms of Petaca Pinta and watching you all from afar. I watched headlights as small as the stars come marching west out of Albuquerque, across a great basin that stretched between you and me. When the headlights kept their distance and kept on west, I fell at ease and rested my head back down in her arms.
Petaca Pinta forces an imagination to run wild. In a night sky overwhelmed with stars, you wonder what you really saw. And while you think so hard of if you saw, you wonder what you really heard. Yesterday morning, I crossed through a mile-wide volcanic bowl, crisscrossed with muddy streambeds. The fresh tracks of pronghorn, bobcat and mountain lion led me on an adventurous zigzag across river washes and lava flows. Maybe I heard a mountain lion last night.
If you have ever driven on Interstate 40 west to Grants, or flown into Albuquerque from Phoenix, you might have noticed a slice of red-rock country just south of the interstate. This land is within or immediately surrounding the Petaca Pinta Wilderness Study Area, a 30,000-acre treasure of public land. It is time this WSA becomes noticed for what it is—a haven for wild animals and a place where we can be respectful visitors in their home. The best way to notice this place is off the highway, up close and up high, where you will find solitude, undisturbed landscapes and broad vistas that reach out across the Rio Puerco. I encourage you all to visit. Petaca Pinta needs to be protected.
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