Lara Adams Gaydos Named 2012 Bucks County Poet Laureate
The Chalfont resident is the 36th honoree in the longest-running poet laureate contest in Pennsylvania.
Born of a poet and an award-winning author, perhaps writing was in her blood. But Lara Adams Gaydos – who has been named the 36th Bucks County Poet Laureate by officials at Bucks County Community College – didn’t discover her poetic talents until she was years and miles away from her New Jersey roots, living in Colorado.
“I grew up in a house full of writing.” says the Chalfont resident, whose father Thomas E. Adams won an O. Henry award for a short story in 1962, and whose mother Patricia Ann Adams wrote poetry. “I was surrounded by it, but I didn’t think about writing as a career.”
Instead, Gaydos (pictured, left) graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University in 1994 with a degree in history and political science. She later moved West with her husband, working as a graphic designer for a small company in Colorado Springs, when a coworker introduced her to a group of local poets. It was then she put pen to paper and discovered her latent talents.
After moving back East and settling in Bucks County, it took Gaydos more than a year to connect with local poets. Every Monday evening, she’d call Colorado Springs to teleconference from afar with her poetry circle there. When a friend showed her a flyer for the 2008 Bucks County Poet Laureate Contest, Gaydos entered and placed sixth runner-up. Finally, it felt like she was home.
“I felt honored to place as a runner-up,” Gaydos recalls. “But really, just finally finding all the local poets and being able to meet them at last was the real winning moment for me.”
After placing as a runner-up again in 2009 and 2010, Gaydos rose to the top of 77 entrants this year in the longest-running poet laureate competition in Pennsylvania. Preliminary judge was Bucks Professor Emeritus Robert Bense. The final judge was D. Nurkse, former poet laureate of Brooklyn, who called her poetry “beautifully realized work.” “These poems invoke and explore a world both actual and mythic. …These tight lines are the work of a great ear and eye, a witty, pithy mind haunted by vast questions.”
One of the first calls Gaydos made when she heard the news was to a 99-year-old woman who leads the Colorado poetry group. “She’s the pillar of the writing community in Colorado Springs,” Gaydos says of poet Lois Beebe Hayna, whom she considers a mentor and friend. Like Gaydos, Hayna began writing later in life; she now inspires writers of all ages and stages of their careers.
Gaydos , whose poetry has appeared in the anthology Poems from the Baca Grande and is forthcoming in U.S. 1 Worksheets, is currently assembling her first chapbooks and manuscript for publication. She lives in Chalfont with her husband and two daughters.
Gaydos gave her first reading as 2012 Bucks County Poet Laureate December 1at Bucks County Community College. In addition to the inaugural reading, Gaydos receives a $500 award and a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners.
The judges also named several runners-up in the contest, who also read at the December 1 reception. They are Sandra Becker, Camille Norvaisas, Tom Mallouk, and Jane Mohler. They were joined at the reading by 2011 Bucks County Poet Laureate Corie Feiner (pictured, right).
The Bucks County Poet Laureate program is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. For more information about this and other writing contests, contact the college’s Department of Language and Literature at 215-968-8150.
She Forgives, She Always Forgives
I’ll awaken one soon morning into mid-May
and it will be time to think about the Baca---
to remember how easy it was to pack a simple bag,
drive up into the foothills, past the Garden of the Gods,
through the Druid Hills, beyond the collegiate peaks,
up and up, and over the pass until you reach Moffat
which is gone in an instant when you turn toward Crestone:
artsy little Crestone with its ashrams and seminaries,
its galleries and boutiques, its convergences
of spiritual lines and existences, and the year-round residents
who only talk about how long the winter lasted this time,
how slow spring was in coming, their eyes stark
and a touch crazed from the endless cold that still bites
when the sun sinks and the snow-capped Sangre de Cristos
glow chartreuse in the distance. Somewhere closer,
hidden among the sage and scrub oak, coyotes howl and yip.
The wind picks up, carries their song to me on the balcony
and the herd of elk below lift their heads, consider moving
off to where sparse trees scrabble along the creek’s edge
for a drink and some scant cover. In the morning
when I take my walk, I’ll find their tracks in the mud
among the emerging irises, such brave lavender reaching up
anticipating noon’s returning warmth. The only sounds
for miles are the early fickle bees and the small chuckle
of the water winding along, and the huff of the wind,
as if the Baca were turning her back on me, arms crossed,
eyes rolling, stamping her foot impetuously, asking me
just exactly where I’ve been the past few years.
She forgives, she always forgives,
but still she makes you earn it.
– Lara Adams Gaydos