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Cortez author publishes book of poetry exploring the idea of laziness in American culture

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Chris Clements / KSJD
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Local author Wyatt Welch holds his book of poetry outside KSJD in downtown Cortez.

Wyatt Welch, a local Cortez author, has published a new book of poetry titled “Capitalism Calls Poetry Lazy.”

The book, published by FlowerSong Press, is a meditation on the nature of laziness in our culture, Welch said.

“I was really thinking about the idea of laziness,” he said. “And some people are talking (about) the myth of laziness and how it informs how we treat other people, you know that if you're – if you're tired, you're somehow a failure, or you're morally corrupt. (So it’s about) this idea and how it informs all sorts of our political history in the U.S.”

“Capitalism Calls Poetry Lazy” also digs into Welch’s life as a member of the LGBTQ+ community living in highly-conservative Montezuma County, as well as details about his childhood.

“So I was at the Montezuma County fairgrounds, and, you know, being a gay person or someone who also feels I have a wide breadth of – in my gender,” he said. “You go to certain places, and you don't necessarily feel safe. And so I really love this wonderful camo hat, I could just put the camo hat on, and everyone thinks I'm straight. They assume it's, it's an emblem of, you know, heterosexuality camo. So I wrote a poem about that, and about the camouflage of that, and what that felt like, being in the community.”

When he was young, Welch said his father – a Vietnam veteran who suffered from the effects of the herbicide Agent Orange – kidnapped him and took him across the country.

“And I grew up with him in a van on the road,” he said. “We traveled up I-10, or sorry, across I-10, and up and down interstates, 95 and 75, throughout the 1980s. I remember just being with him in the car all the time. He was a bit of a compulsive talker, so I'd have to dissociate in the car just to put up with his talking. But I'd be in the van and trying to remember teaching myself how to count money, or how to tell time, because I just wasn't in school. That was a kid who was really interested in learning.”

Welch said his time traveling with his father manages to seep into his poetry, even during moments when it’s unexpected.

“We're all from so many different places, (there’s these) bits and mosaics,” he said. “So it pops in, you know, I don't really write about one subject matter if I'm writing a poem, a lot of different angles will come in. So I could be writing about eating a peach, and then I'm thinking about my kidnapping, or then I'm thinking about a coworker.”

The book recently arrived on shelves at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, as well as bookstores in Albuquerque, San Francisco and Tucson.

Chris Clements is KSJD's news reporter. He previously covered literary arts as a reporter for The Chautauquan Daily in Chautauqua, New York, and recently graduated with a degree in English from Arizona State University. He’s passionate about all things related to journalism, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.