Professors find a place for art in the real world

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By Kirsten Laskey

Does what you learn in the classroom really transpire in the real world? Some cynics might scoff at the idea that an art such as poetry could be useful beyond a school’s walls, but two University of New Mexico-Los Alamos professors prove that poetry has a life after the school bell rings.

Joan Logghe and Jan Lin  teach poetry writing at the local college. Additionally, they have recently earned recognition for their own literary work.

Logghe was honored as Santa Fe’s poet laureate and Lin earned a scholarship to attend the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.

Logghe said she learned about her new title three weeks ago. The Santa Fe Arts Commission bestowed the title to her. Logghe said she is the third poet laureate in Santa Fe. She will serve in the position for two years and will make several public appearances throughout the city. These include the Poet Laureate Passing of the Pencil Ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday on the Plaza. Additionally, Logghe will take part in a reading in the Abiquiu Lecture series at 7 p.m. July 29 at the Abiquiu Inn. She will do another reading at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. Finally, from 2-4 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Museum of Art in Santa Fe, Logghe will host Joan and the Giant Pencil.

Logghe has warmly embraced this distinction. “I am ecstatic and joyful and I feel like my life’s work is continuing and being so recognized, I am energized by this honor,” she said.

She added she has been a poet all her life and becoming a poet laureate makes her work more visible and gets people more interested and excited about poetry.

“I think the poet laureate brings attention to the art of poetry. I just tell people wherever I go,” Logghe said.

Her mother nurtured her love of the art form by reading poems and buying poetry books. While she read poems since she was a little girl, Logghe said she never thought she would be able to make a life out of a being poet.

“I’ve been interested since I was young,” she said. “I tell my students the creative life means you have to figure out creatively how to live – both making a living, doing your work and juggling your family obligations.”

Logghe has helped guide students to a creative life at UNM-LA since 2006.

“I like seeing people fall in love with poetry and their own voice,” she explained. “I love people so I love the glimpse we get into each other’s lives in class.”

Logghe will again teach at UNM-LA starting Aug. 23. She is teaching a workshop in poetry writing from noon-3 p.m. Fridays.

Besides teaching poetry, UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page said Logghe has been an instructor for nonfiction, writing and creative classes.

“She’s been a key faculty member in the humanities department and inspired a number of students over the years she taught with us and is a great colleague … we’re real proud she was recognize with this appointment of poet laureate,” Page said.

Logghe isn’t the only UNM-LA faculty member to shine.

Lin participated in the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, which began Sunday and ran through Friday at the Sage Brush Inn and Conference Center in Taos.

Her participation was supported through the Leo Love Merit Scholarship. Love, she explained, attended the conference for many years. After attending the conference the first time, he loved it so much that he began donating  money to start a scholarship.

Anyone can apply – a 10-page portfolio needs to be submitted. Scholarship recipients are chosen because of their writing abilities.

Lin said, “I was very honored,” to receive the scholarship.

During the conference, Lin said she participated in a class workshop and worked one-on-one with instructors. Participants also discussed image, sound and line length and performed writing exercises. Jon Davis of the Institute of American Indian Art led the conference.

Although Lin said she has always wanted to attend the conference, this year was her first opportunity to participate.

“It’s been a real gift to be here and to devote this time to my writing and there is a group of people from across the country, from California to Philadelphia,” she said. “It’s also been a good experience to see how Jon Davis teaches and learn from him. He’s said some things I can bring back to my own teaching at UNM-LA.”

Lin added, “It’s always good to meet other writers and be exposed to their writing. Each night they have also had faculty writers and it’s a way to discover new writers that you want to read.”

Lin started teaching at UNM-LA in 2000 and while she will not  hold any classes in the fall, she will return to teach a poetry workshop in the spring.

The workshop, she said, has given her a lot of great material to share with her students.

“Specifically, (it’s given) some exercises to do with my own students and also another quality to the way I can critique poems, both my own and my students,” she said.

While the conference has been a positive influence on Lin’s work, her classes have also impacted her work.

“I enjoy seeing my students grow in their writing and it’s very stimulating to be with them and read poetry and discuss it,” she said. “To immerse yourself in it even if it’s only for a few hours a week. It helps my own writing as well.”

Lin has written poetry since she was a teenager but didn’t take it seriously until college.

She said she was attracted to writing poems because “I think the way you can discover things about yourself through observation and awareness of both yourself and the greater world. And it’s both a process of discovery and sharing that discovery with other people so have their own experience when they read a poem.”