“I LOVE YOUR POEM!”: Eric Raanan Fischman on Christy Felton’s “3 Poems or 5 Minutes, Whichever Comes First”

This is the part of a series called “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” in which people submit on behalf of local poets whose work they admire and write about why they do. The idea is not only to highlight great work, especially from those who might not submit the work themselves, but also to create a big gushy lovefest in the community. If you’re interested in submitting on behalf of a local poet you love you can check out the submission guidelines here

Christy is a prolific community organizer and absolutely vital to the poetry scene in Longmont. I first met her years ago when we both performed at the “Don’t Yell At Me” reading series organized by local poet and comics expert Dustin Holland at the now sadly defunct Still Cellars Distillery, but I have been lucky enough to get to know her a lot better over the last few years.

Christy Felton hosts Last Friday Poetry Night at Longmont’s Firehouse Art Center

A phenomenal poet in her own right, Christy is also the sole reason poets get paid for teaching workshops at the Firehouse Art Center, having ensured the distribution of grant funds to volunteer teachers last year and personally matching up to $600 in donations this year when that same grant fell through. She has run the writers program at the Firehouse for years now, and taught the monthly 3rd Friday free workshops herself long before there was any money available for poets; and the moment there was she reached out to the local community to spread the wealth.

Christy’s writing is precise yet playful, experimental yet relatable. She is always trying new things in her poetry, yet still manages to touch on something deeply emotional that we all share in our most hidden human depths. Some of my favorite writing of hers has been what she is able to produce right on the spot with zero prep time in the many local writing workshops and poetry circles. With every new piece, I can see her broadening her style, expanding her toolkit, doing the thoughtful and difficult work that every artist must do. Her poems carry that sublime mix of truth and beauty that we look for in poets like Shelley and Keats, while also bringing a distinctly contemporary flair and couching it all in her generous sense of humor. In other words, her poems are insightful, they are unique, and most of all, they are kind.

Eric and Christy at Longmont’s Firehouse Art Center

I chose this poem because it feels iconic of the Firehouse Art Center’s monthly last Friday open mics, which is currently the only place in Longmont where you can regularly go to hear and perform poetry. If the Firehouse is Longmont’s poetic heart, Christy is its pacemaker. Hold on, that’s an awful metaphor, let me try again. If the Firehouse is Longmont’s poetic heart, Christy is the brain that pumps it, the ribcage that protects it, and the spine on which it rests. She brings a gracious and welcoming presence to every Firehouse event, and I am just grateful to be a part of this vibrant local scene that she has worked so hard to build.

Thank you Christy!

"3 Poems or 5 Minutes, Whichever Comes First"
Listening to the old men, 
Their grizzled tones and empty saber rattling, times past and times to come. 

Listening to the young men, 
Their cadence fast as race horses- s l o w, let us savor it and remember it is our first time. 

Listening to the old women, 
With memories of gold and pain, and their black patten dancing in the rain. 

Listening to the young women, 
Discovering their anger and their passion, and their distaste for how the world sees them. 

Listening to the old gender neutral poet, 
Listen to their words of discovery and ages of pain and the secrets of yesteryear.  

Listening to the young gender neutral poet, 
Lamenting that nothing is changing, and the cages of distrust and hate have them feeling down. 

Listening to the Hispanic, the Asian, the African American, the Jewish, the Poor, the Broken, the One Who is Always in Love, 

They distill life and all its beauty, 
Into 3 poems or 5 minutes, whichever comes first. 

- Christy Felton
April 14, 2017

Christy Felton is predisposed to happiness. She received a BA in English from Metro State College of Denver, which she has done nearly nothing with because, unfortunately, she is tragically gifted in Math and Finance. She has used those skills to build a business completely unrelated to her writing that supports her writing habit. She heads up the writing program at the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont, CO, and has done so for too many years to count. While very much unpublished, she will be your biggest cheerleader. She lives on 5 acres, in a house full of pinball machines and books, with her much-loved partner, three cats, and a giant puppy. She gardens. She cooks. She dances. And occasionally, she writes.

Eric Raanan Fischman is an MFA graduate of Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. He has taught free writing workshops in Nederland, Boulder, and Longmont, Colorado, and has had work in Bombay Gin, the Boulder Weekly, Suspect Press, and more, as well as in local community fundraising anthologies from Punch Drunk Press and South Broadway Ghost Society. He also curates the Boulder/Denver metro area poetry calendar at boulderpoetryscene.com and is a regular contributor to the BPS blog. His first book, “Mordy Gets Enlightened,” was published through The Little Door in 2017.