Senator Owen Hill: Poetry Critic

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

UPDATE: Senator Hill replied with a statement at the end of this post.

Governor Jared Polis took the oath of office today on the west steps of the state capitol. The ceremony featured a diverse group of speakers, religious leaders, poets and performers, all celebrating the inauguration of Colorado’s 43rd governor.

State Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) attended the event. The Senator is known to like yoga but apparently not poetry, or at least not the poetry he heard today. Hill used Facebook to dismiss at least one of the two poets who read their work at today’s inauguration ceremony for Governor Jared Polis, saying, “Just because you dress funny and no one understands what you are talking about, it doesn’t make you a poet.”

The two poets on the inaugural agenda were Anne Waldman and Toluwanimi Obiwole. Both have received considerable acclaim for their work.

Waldman is the director of the MFA Writing and Poetics program at the Naropa Institute, where she has been teaching for nearly four decades. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a recipient of the American Book Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award and has published over 40 books of poetry. Nigerian-born Obiwole directs Denver’s nationally acclaimed Slam Nuba poetry team. In 2015 she was was also the city’s first Youth Poet Laureate.

The timing of the post makes it appear to have been posted during Waldman’s performance. An email to Senator Hill seeking clarification as to which poet he was referring to was not immediately returned.

Hill’s Facebook post was liked by a number of Colorado politicos, including Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), Rep. Susan Beckman (R-Littleton) and Colorado Republican Party Communications Director Daniel Cole.

Hill’s statement:

The inauguration is an exciting time for Colorado, and I am honored to welcome Governor Polis. In fact, I expect I am much more optimistic than many of my Republican colleagues about his entrepreneurial spirit leading Colorado.

I posted to lodge my complaint after hearing Anne Waldman’s disjointed diatribe. If being published and creatively casting invective counts as poetry, then expect Donald Trump’s tweets to show up in an anthology sometime soon. God help us, his tweets are just as obnoxious as Waldman’s ramblings. 

But since you ask about poetry criticism [Editor’s note: Hill was asked if he had a favorite poet], Toluwanimi Obiwole’s poem was delightful to listen to in her cadence and her heartfelt personal expression shined through, however incoherent words limited the effect.

I would entitle her poem “Up the Street Without a Paddle: A Queer Mix of Metaphors”  

Today poetry has the ability to inspire and unite us, in a time when we desperately need unity. Poetry has such potency. For my preference, if I were to spend three years with no companion other than the works of Walt Whitman, Gerard Manly Hopkins, and Kay Ryan, I would be happy. 

While I remain optimistic about opportunities to work with Governor Polis on issues like education and entrepreneurship, I’m concerned that these poets are an indication of more hurtful partisanship coming for Colorado.  I will raise a glass of covfefe to Governor Polis’s success and his promise to stand for ALL of Colorado–not more divisiveness. 

Sen. Owen Hill showing off his spiritual side in a 2015 committee hearing.

18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    There once was a wing nut from Nantucket….

  2. mamajama55 says:

    Just because you have good hair and can read Republican talking points, it doesn't make you a statesman.

  3. RepealAndReplace says:

    What could be said about a guy who couldn't beat Doug "Stillborn" Lamborn in a primary?

  4. Budded says:

    "I’m concerned that these poets are an indication of more hurtful partisanship coming for Colorado."

    No dickhead, you and your backwards GOP colleagues are what's hurtful to Colorado and America, but keep projecting.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Classic Colorado GOP; talk trash about someone to thrill the mouth-breathers in the base, backpedal when someone calls you out for being an asshole, then whine about "partisanship" from the other side. 

      Get used to the back of the bus, dimwits.

      Colorado's only going to get bluer.


  5. JohnInDenver says:


    Walt Whitman, Died: March 26, 1892

    Gerard Manly [sic] Hopkins, — (assuming he refers to Gerard Manley Hopkins)Died: June 8, 1889


    Kay Ryan, born September 21, 1945 (age 73) —

    And I'm a bit surprised by his choice of Ryan — a MacArthur Genius Grant winner, a Marin County, CA resident, widow of her nearly thirty year partner, Carol Adair.  But she does write on some topics that may be thought provoking for Sen. Hill:

    Failure 2 that's the number 2.

    There could be nutrients
    in failure
    deep amendments
    to the shallow soil
    of wishes.
    Think of the
    dark and bitter
    flavors of
    black ales
    and peasant loaves.
    Think of licorices.
    Think about
    the tales of how
    Indians put fishes
    under corn plants.
    Next time hope
    relinquishes a form,
    think about that.

  6. Genghis says:


    Another GOP douchebag pandering to the "it ain't poetry if it don't rhyme" crowd. Go fuck your mother, Owen Hill.

  7. PoetryCritic says:

    Owen Hill says he is for all of Colorado. He must be missing the fact that Anne Waldman has been a staple of the Colorado poetry community since the 1970s. Owen Hill isn't good at thinking, or writing, or Colorado history is he?

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.