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Poet Laureate Reports


Term: 2014 to 2017

As Poet Laureate, she promoted expanding the power of the written word in our community, giving voice to young and old, emphasizing the need for expression through poetry.

One of her goals as Poet Laureate was to empower youth to create their own poems. Using her experiences with teaching children and her familiarity with schools in the area, she has offered poetry workshops for children of all ages. The workshop series, “Writing from the Ground Up,” has focused on the human connection with the natural world and on the poetry that children create in relation to the theme.

Since moving to Silver City in 2005, Ms. Stuart has worked for Silver Consolidated Schools as part of the Art and Music Program that served the elementary schools. She taught music for 3 ½ years for children, K-5, until the program disbanded and has taught music for the Head Start program for the past 5 years.

She was a Montessori preschool teacher for 16 years in Seattle and teaches a summer music program for Silver City’s Guadalupe Montessori School. She also teaches 15 piano students from her home.

Elise belongs to the local poetry reading group, the Thaddeus McPherson Society, and the bi-weekly Writing Group at WNMU. She has joined Silver City’s first Poet Laureate, Bonnie Maldonado, in presenting poetry readings at Bayard Library and a workshop on Book Spine Poetry. She has facilitated a panel for the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, where she also read from her own poetry. For the past several years, she has organized a poetry reading, inviting people to be part of a celebration of Black History Month, at Yankee Creek Coffeehouse. She has led the effort to air a weekly literary radio program on KURU 89.1FM (Gila Mimbres Community Radio) called “Use Your Words!”

Her poems have been published in “Poems 2,” a book of art and poetry, and in “The Rag,” a small poetry collection published in Albuquerque, and in “Sunrise of the Spirit.” Her first book of poetry, “Another Door Calls,” was published in the spring of 2017.

Remembering where we came from

We walk alone,
most of the way,
wanting to be reminded
of the ceaseless connection

to the heart of a seed,
the flock of birds
that swings and turns together,
the antelope that graze
in the faraway fields.

Up ahead, we glimpse
a weathered wooden dock leading to joy,
a reason for rising each day,
a way of being.

Sometimes it happens,
rare gatherings with few of our tribe,
oasis of understanding.
We share, speak, move beyond our
small houses of knowledge.

For more, visit Ms. Stuart’s website at

Bonnie Buckley Maldonado: First Poet Laureate of Silver City

Term: April 15, 2012 – April 15, 2014

Opening Comments

The Silver City Poet Laureate Program was initiated to spark interest in the literary arts in Grant County, in conjunction with the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, the area’s premiere book festival. The festival aims to elevate the profile of literature including books, authors, and reading within the community.

I am deeply grateful to the Poet Laureate Selection Committee and the Silver City Town Council for my appointment as the inaugural Poet Laureate.

Special thanks are due to Jim Kelly, Steering Committee Member, for his comprehensive research into national guidelines for poet laureates and for shepherding the Poet Laureate Proposal to its ultimate approval by the Silver City Town Council.

The official guidelines for the Silver City Poet Laureate Program were expertly finalized by JJ Wilson, Writer in Residence at Western New Mexico University. His professional and elegant management was crucial for the program’s success.

My appreciation extends to the J.W. McPherson Society for the Arts for nominating me as the first Poet Laureate of Silver City and Grant County, with particular thanks to Larry Godfrey for his unwavering support and to both him and Tom McCoy for their exceptional letter of nomination.

My heartfelt thanks go to Susan Morton Berry, a former student, fellow writer, and friend, who meticulously edited each poem I wrote set in Southwestern New Mexico for historical accuracy, including “The Fourth of July, Silver City, New Mexico,” which accurately references Adolphus Dockery Seitzler, an early saddle maker in Silver City, thanks to Susan’s efforts.

I also thank Elise Stuart for her availability in organizing readings at the Bayard Public Library and for leading Random Acts of Literature, a program designed to disseminate literature across a broad range of community venues.

Serving as the Poet Laureate of Silver City has been a profoundly enriching experience and a wonderful gift for my 80th birthday, perfectly aligning with my commitment to dedicating my retirement to poetry as I had previously to teaching and community service.

Readings and Performances

I engaged in numerous readings throughout my tenure, starting with cold winter First Fridays downtown, reading Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” among others, moving through various local venues. These sessions not only celebrated literature but also connected with diverse audiences through poetry reflective of life in Silver City and Grant County. Feedback often highlighted my effective use of local imagery and historical accuracy.

Henry and Mary Ewalt noted in a March 5, 2012 email their appreciation for my authentic literary voice and presence.

The joy of reading aloud and interacting with audiences, answering their questions, and discussing the nature of the poems has been immensely fulfilling, especially given the strong turnout at events on beautiful weekend days.


During my term, I did not complete a fifth volume of poems, but I did contribute “Solstice Communion” to the centennial anthology “Two Hundred Poems, New Mexico 1912-2012,” making me the sole representative poet from Southern New Mexico in this prestigious collection. My poems also featured regularly in the Silver City Daily Press, where they were well-received by locals who appreciated the narrative and descriptive qualities that brought new perspectives to familiar settings.

Teaching and Mentoring

My engagement extended into teaching and mentoring, where I led the “At Play with the Poet Laureate” course in Fall 2012, helping participants express themselves through poetry. I continued to make appearances, including at the Grant County Detention Center, contributing to the educational and cultural enrichment of the community through poetry.

A poem by a course participant, Clyde Perry, titled “Bonnie,” exemplifies the impact of these efforts, describing the transformative influence of mentorship and engagement.

For more insights into my tenure and works, Click here to watch the Southwest Word Fiesta Interview with Bonnie Buckley Maldonado-Poet Laureate Emeritus of Southwest Word Fiesta.