Current Laureate: Susan M. Peiffer

Susan M. PeifferSusan M. Peiffer was inaugurated as the 5th Pikes Peak Poet Laureate on April 24, 2016. Susan will serve as Poet Laureate until April 2018.

Susan Peiffer is a published and nationally recognized poet who studied creative writing and theology at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. With graduate degrees from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Susan taught at a private high school in Delaware for six years, toured the United States as a poet, and then worked as program director for a non-profit in Philadelphia until 2012. Since relocating to Colorado Springs in 2012, Susan has become deeply invested in the local community. Currently executive director of Hear Here Poetry, she amplifies her intention to encourage all people to listen, write, share, and engage the world with their words. She facilitates workshops and classes on different aspects of writing and performance and hopes to help inspire the unique circumstances into which crafted poems arrive. Susan is eager to continue connecting different facets of the Pikes Peak Region through the shared experience of poetry.


The Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Project in collaboration with the Pikes Peak Library District seeks submissions of original poetry from residents of El Paso and Teller Counties for the April 2018 edition of Poetry While You Wait.

Poetry While You Wait is produced biennially to inspire and celebrate poets and poetry by placing a book of poetry written by local poets in places where people often find themselves waiting.

Please see the attached Call for Submissions and Copyright Agreement for more information.

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You will never know a warm winter blooming into stone—the thousand levitating stars shedding their loose light

into morning or the way the sun is born blind—moves like warm fingertips across a child’s face.

You will never know the sound of A minor turning into G—the silence between those two points caving like a human spine

into a question mark & you will never be able to name the current president or the dark horse of a team making

their way to the Super Bowl—the day your son got married, the way he stood at the edge of the ocean, the atmosphere

melting behind him, his lips tilting into a smile. Yesterday, a woman out on probation plowed her SUV into a man

& 3 children. The woman could have been you, but it wasn’t you & you will never remember the years I took the spark plugs

from your car to save that man & 3 children—how I hid my keys & wallet at the bottom of the piano bench—the piano

I never played or knew how to play—the sheet music that made no sense, a random series of meaningless dots & horizontal lines—

I will never tell you of the rorschach blotched stars of sunlight bouncing off the inlet outside—their way of hypnotizing a human being if you stare for too long—or the morning after Christmas when the snow baptized the dunes & you & your sister slid

head-first into the numb arms of the Atlantic. You won’t remember me—too busy trying to still the earthquake in my hands—the fog

twistingaround my head—busy inhaling—busy forgetting—busy in my dark 1 room apartment w my dirty hair—blinds drawn

my back slumped—scavenging the carpet for a rogue pill—a flesh of ash—a dust of magic.

Meanwhile—a broken heart continues to invent its own vocabulary from a sleepless night—

a stilted crane tiptoes through the marsh outside as if the whole world should shift under its weight—

& I will sit at that damn piano & begin to play—not knowing where my fingertips are going—where I might end up

when no one is listening—each note—a shape willing itself alive in my hands.

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It is so
for all
who are
born of the Spirit—
soul-stirred
& sound-starved
for an unremembered Name—

whispering tides
wrangle a swelling ocean
ropes chime
above a chamber of sailboats
wings whoosh-rustle
in a murmured flight of starlings.

The Wind blows
where it chooses—
whether it moves as air
or air moves it—
it pirouettes as emptiness
in darkness—
it waltzes against the crawl—
of now.

I imagine all the prayers
swept under the pews
where the sermon is
served on a blank piece
of bread &
my ghost—
bathing in the spectral lines
of a hydrogen atom
finds a noose seductive
like that single blush of rain
in a hanging sky—

I would scour
a sea
to surface
that lifeless body—
drag all
the Atlantic
to find that corpse—

—just to breathe
a sigh of relief
that it
is not
my own.

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Do you know what it is to be starved for yourself? How long has it been since you tasted the place where you've come from--the place where you are Known and not simply Seen? What does Home even smell like?

My home smells like tangerines and briney water, like patchouli and salt from the sea--it's humid like sticky days in sundresses--like coffee and scrapple in the morning--like red wine and a crab cakes at night--like oceans of remembered mountains ancient before me, my appreciation relevant, but arrogant adolescent insult nonetheless--

Have you ever needed to go back to the city or the farm or the grocery or the diner that you came from?

This is the After. After you've tasted the cuisines of a thousand cultures--after the blend and spice of a thousand places--after you know when Want becomes Need and it is time to become familiar with what is Wholly Comfortable and life-giving and nurturing again--when you know it is time to go Home--

And then again--there is no certain way of knowing.

There's only the option to decide--

--and once you decide to follow through.

Peace---
SMP

Transformation
is all the ugly that comes
before we learn to butterfly—
dark cocoons precede dappled wings—
Huddled and damp
I pushed my way out
of our relationship.
I navigated doubt and desire
until I decided
to love you
with all of my intelligence.
I had an idea of myself
that was no longer true &
I could no longer sacrifice joy
to prevent myself from becoming
the woman I must next be—
Sometimes
we put up a good fight and lose.
Sometimes
we can only choose to let go.
Acceptance
is a small dark room—
simplicity & ordinary places
undone dishes & mismatched socks—
bearing witness to the locks we’ve used
to gate hate each other
into isolation—
Acceptance
is starting at the essential &
ending up there too—
it is the gentlest voice commanding
we acknowledge what is true:
You could not convince me to love you
the way you wanted me to.
We don’t always do the right thing
on the way to righteousness.
Being honorable is inconvenient—
having to look you in the eyes &
take it straight to the chin—
I broke my own heart
to stop fucking with your head.
Forgiveness isn’t cotton candy carousels—
it is carnival coffins colliding
in not so fun house hearts.
It is hard to have a conflicting set of emotions—
but it’s not as hard as I pretended it was.
We are the cracked pot
in the garden
we are growing from.
You have sustained my chrysanthemum—
defrosted my marigold—
watered every tearful snowdrop in winter.
You have loved me best
with a generous, hard, true,
right kind of love—

We were once.
And that is (not) all.
Remember while letting go—

Wanting to leave was enough.

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This has been the longest sort of a short month—and I hope you have had time to be alone, but not much time lonely. We celebrated this month with Joe Hutchinson—the Colorado state poet laureate. Several local poets, including past laureates Price Strobridge, Janice Gould, and Jim Ciletti read their own poems and “Oh! The purple of it all…”
It was a celebration of Valentine’s day in the shadows of Pikes Peak. Sometimes we prefer our own company to anyone else’s and sometimes we are able to revel in shared intimacy with others. Love is transitional and changing and a choice—let us all attempt to be more charitable, truthful, and merciful with ourselves and with all those we encounter along the way.

—SMP

[You will find Susan's poem "Dreaming DE" in her hand in the images attached below]

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