For more than eight years, Paul White has hosted a monthly poetry series, Poetry at Paul’s, at his home in Chupadero. A glassblower and fuser by trade, White has worked in education and community organizing, participating with and initiating numerous associations in land and water use, agriculture and more. He ran for
in the June 1 primary. For more information about Poetry at Paul’s or other poetry events, check out White’s
SFR: Who are some of your favorite poets?
Gary Glazner is one of the poets that helped me for quite a while with my series. He’s now in New York running the Bowery Poetry Club. So he’s one of my favorite poets. On the local front, Joan Logghe has been out to my place. She’s [the City of Santa Fe’s] poet laureate. I’ve got Valerie Martinez coming here soon. Santa Fe Indian School poets, the kids, are fantastic.
What inspired you to launch Poetry at Paul’s?
Gary Glazner had a poetry series at the Inn on the Alameda. I used to go to it, and I was just amazed at the quality of the poets. He always had a full house there and people were very appreciative. It was always impressive to me how strong the support was. So I asked Gary if he’d help me with a series at my house, and he did.
You were trained as a glassblower. How did you get into community organizing?
I own property out here in Chupadero, which is within the Aamodt water suit area…I felt that the way our elected representatives were going about making decisions wasn’t right. There wasn’t enough public outrage into the way they were making decisions.
You’ve worked on a lot of projects. What were some of your favorites and why?
Currently, the United Communities [of Santa Fe County] is working on the Sustainable Land Development Plan. We’ve been working with the county. That plan is a monumental task. We’ve gotten a lot of community input into the process. That’s one of the major issues. One of my initiatives right now is the Agricultural Revitalization Initiative…I’d like to see a community farm in every area of the county but, primarily, we’re working on one in Pojoaque.
Connect the dots between your background in the arts and your community work.
I think the arts need to be supported. There was quite a bit of support, but now the funding has run out and a lot of these programs are getting cut back. I’m not a poet, but I just appreciate poetry, and I feel that the poetry community needs to be supported.
You’ve worked in arts education. How do you think the schools are doing in that regard?
The funding for the schools has been cut so drastically…it’s something that I don’t think should be cut. Given the deplorable conditions or deplorable rankings we have federally, I think there needs to be more support for literary poets. There was a Poets-in-the-Schools program; that’s been cut. I’d rather see funding for Poets-in-the-Schools than a spaceport down in the southern part of the state. That would be a better use of our literary initiative, supporting the teachers in our schools.
How does that compare to other issues you’ve worked on, such as the Aamodt water settlement?
The Aamodt is a local issue, but it’s also a state issue…Comparatively speaking, education across the state is equal with the water issues. I’d rank our water issues a little higher than education, but they’re both right up there in my top five.
How did your arts and organizing background figure into your run for County Commission?
One of the reasons I ran was because I felt there hadn’t been enough educational outreach from the county, and I felt that there needed to be more inclusion. My community involvement in the poetry showed me there is a community out there, and that community can be tapped into.…I’d say my participation in the poetry community was sort of a precursor to my involvement in politics.