Artist Spotlight: Nicole Stanton
December 22, 2016
by Nicole Stanton
On Saturday morning we sat
on a carpet doused in cat hair,
sipping butter coffee.
Our chat was about house rules:
how to clean the coffee pot
when to feed the goats
where the lentils live.
We arrived at the topic of men.
I sit, 22 years old.
Every man I love
an accumulation of guesses.
nearly 40 and recently divorced.
nearly 70 and recently widowed.
We navigate logistics,
of inviting boyfriends and lovers,
into a female cocoon
I am distinctly aware
of our belonging
in something tribe-like.
In this house of women
I am given permission:
to be soft around the edges
of being stiff
as an apple’s skin.
Mealy meat and seedless.
Next to a fire,
built by hands
aged by Colorado winters,
Parts buried by “him”
grow into trees.
Wrapped in a blanket
of spruce needles,
I feel confident
living in questions
sleeping within walls of answers.
She rattles me,
she rattles she,
waking to hope for what comes
and wisdom from what was.
A trio holding its breathe,
won’t stumble upon us.
A Carbondale resident, Nicole Stanton is the program coordinator for the literary nonprofit Aspen Words. She was the sacrificial poet for a recent slam at Steve's Guitars and is working hard to arrange future outlets for both spoken and written poetry. She recently sat down with the Post Independent to discuss words and why they're so important.
How did you become passionate about writing?
I grew up in Long Beach and then went to college in Connecticut at Wesleyan University. I was in this major called College of Letters, which was literature, history and philosophy. I literally spent four years just reading and writing. I was always kind of a book worm, but poetry started out as kind of my space away from academics — something I could kind of escape to. My senior year I ended up taking a couple of really fantastic poetry classes and made that more of my focus. It was a way to use language and play with it in a way that was kind of another level for me.
What caused the transition?
I think it really clicked when I studied abroad in Spain. I fell in love with this poet, Federico García Lorca. I was living in Madrid, so I was reading his poetry and experiencing his work in the place he wrote about. I really experienced how poets observe the world in a way that's very careful and very otherworldly. After that, I was always scribbling words and observations in the way I imagined he did.
How did you come out here?
I wanted to figure out how to get into the art world, and I stumbled across what was the Aspen Writer's Foundation, and they offered a residency in summer 2014. I came out here and fell in love with it. They offered me a job, so I finished college and moved back.
Were you surprised to find that opportunity in a rural area?
I was just excited to find a job that had anything to do with literature, because it seemed kind of impossible when graduating to get paid to be surrounded by authors and books. I've been pleasantly surprised by the way that everybody has wanted to support this.
In retrospect, it makes sense to me that poetry could happen in a small community. I think part of what draws people to a community poetry event is that they're seeing their students or neighbors or co-workers in a space of vulnerability, and that having a tight knit community makes people more willing to do that.
What are you working on next?
I really want poetry to be a means of getting students from Aspen to Glenwood or even Rifle all in the same place. I think they'll find they have way more in common than they think. We have our big project in February when we bring in four poets including the youth poet laureate from Denver for two weeks doing residencies in schools with a slam at the end. My hope is that will build enough momentum to create a poetry club and eventually regular all-ages slams.
Any misconceptions about poetry you'd like to clear up?
I think people view it as melodramatic, but I think it's actually one of the most hope-filled art forms because it helps us makes sense of the things that don't make sense. It can be playful and fun and funny.
We use language every day in ways that perhaps not the most thoughtful or careful. Poetry asks you to recognize that every word has weight and matters. I think it's important to think about what we call people and how we express things.
Anything else you'd like to share about yourself?
Coming from a big city background, I never thought I would be able to find roots in a place like this. I'm just so inspired by this community and being so absorbent and excited about poetry, art, nature… I've been so blessed to find a friendly community that really ushered me into the outdoors. I'm a big hiker, and I'm learning to skate ski. One thing that's really unique about this place is to have a community that has such a close knit relationship with nature and also offers and inspires creativity. I think art as a way of communicating the importance of the environment is something we're going to see a lot more of, and this is a hotspot for it.