Spoken-word poet Ashley Cornelius is burning to bring her passion to the masses in her new gig as Pikes Peak poet laureate.
The award-winning Colorado Springs resident will be Pikes Peak Library District’s first poet laureate since 2017. Her duties begin in late October, following an inauguration ceremony at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at Knights of Columbus Hall, at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave. Go online to ppld.org/poetlaureate for more details.
Cornelius sees her new position as a potent antidote to the challenges many are weathering today.
“Art and creation is the antithesis of destruction and pain,” said the Rampart High School and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs graduate. “When it feels like things are falling apart, we see creativity and art rise and flourish. Now is the time to lean into art as healing. I’m excited the position is coming back and we get to represent poetry as an integral part of the region. It’s a way to lift up voices and messages in a way that is powerful for our communities.”
Her love of poetry goes back to her pre-teen years, when she figured out the art form was a better way to express herself than writing in a journal. During college, she performed on stage for the first time, delivering a poem about a toxic relationship during an open mic. She’s gone on to win four of the local nonprofit organization Hear Here Poetry’s competitions, and competed at the national Women of the World Poetry Slam as the city’s representative three years ago. She’s also co-director of Poetry 719, a group for spoken-word poetry lovers.
“She will be an incredible ambassador for the arts in the Pikes Peak region,” said Dustin Booth, project chair and PPLD manager for Knights of Columbus Hall, “and her poetry inspires those who witness her work to think deeper about the roles we all play in our community.”
As poet laureate, Cornelius will work with PPLD to develop an appreciation of written and performance poetry in the community, including creating programs to engage and educate the public. One of her first missions will be finding a way to integrate poetry physically into the city.
“We do an incredible job with sculptures, murals and visual art,” she said. “I want to find some way poetry can be foundational and we can see it and experience it, the same way we love to see the Humpty Dumpty egg sculptures downtown or the Uncle Wilber Fountain in Acacia Park. I want that same feel for poetry, for it to be a normal thing to see in the city.”
Contact the writer: 636-0270