Writer Kate Kingston

Writer Kate Kingston lives in Trinidad, Colorado (Photo by Ron Thompson)

 
I knew I was going to like the poet Kate Kingston the minute she shared this story during our first dinner together at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming:

“When my youngest son was a teenager, he told me me, ‘No one over thirty can snowboard.’ I said, ‘Do you want to make a bet?’ We did. I won. I was in my forties, and by the time I was fifty I gave up skiing and have been snowboarding ever since. Why? It’s more poetic. More in tune with the mountain.”

I met Kate in April at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts where we were both writers in residence for a month. Kate is not only a talented poet, but she also has a zest for life that is contagious. She is always up for an adventure, whether it’s snowboarding, skiing, riding horses, traveling to Spain or Mexico, or teaching Spanish to a room of rowdy high school students. We were hard-pressed to keep up with Kate’s bottomless well of energy.

 

Kate Kingston during her residency at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming. A small-world coincidence: the cowboy who took us riding turned out to be a former high school student of Kate’s from Colorado. (Photo courtesy Kate Kingston)

 
Playfulness is an essential part of the creative process. In order to work well, we must also play well, as our residency at Brush Creek continually reminded us. (My own creative work always flourished after a long hike or a game of basketball.)

The sense of wonder and freedom we once knew as a child can be hard to rediscover. Playfulness is literally schooled out of us. Physical education and the arts are the first things to go when education funding is cut. And as adults, we wear our busy schedules like a badge of honor, as though the fullness of our calendar has a direct correlation to our own self worth.

But as artists, we must play in order to survive. Without it, there can be no receptivity, empathy, or happy accidents during the creative process. Play puts us in a state of readiness for the act of making our best work. I thought of this each time I saw Kate Kingston cross-country ski by my studio window. What may look like “goofing off” to an outsider is actually a critical part of the creative process. The boundary between life and art is really non-existent. Kate’s gliding through snow beside the gushing creek was its own form of poetry.