I LOVE YOUR POEM!: Margaret Chancellor on Jorge Figueroa’s “In the Future”

This is part of the “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” series, 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 may 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

I first remember Jorge from the monthly BAFS Sunday writing workshop at Boulder Public Library.  He spoke of his education and professional work experiences during an introduction at this workshop.  His manner was very humble and soft spoken which impressed me. The poetry he wrote during the workshop was also impressive.  In addition to this, we had a mutual friend and another mutual interest community, so I began to see him frequently around town.

When Jonathan Montgomery first spoke of his book project at a Boulder poetry scene ‘Meeting of the Minds,’ I was given the opportunity to write about a poet for a future project and I chose Jorge. It’s that simple.

Moving along to why I love Jorge’s poem, I especially like that I can look at it through my viewpoint of time.  The poem’s focus is “in the future.” The way I see time is spherical.  Not linear.  Jorge’s poem and my view of time as spherical align well.  

He speaks of people and events as the poem goes on, how they will be in the future.  Close to the beginning of the poem, he speaks of Jason and the Argonauts, and past and future selves:  

left in the wake
of the tides
of my previous self
Like the skin of a rattle snake left behind

I love this analogy.  I do not want for this piece to be like a college paper, going through this poem line by line and analyzing the words.  I do not think I have to justify in a collegiate manner why I love this poem, so I won’t do that.

Within the structure of spherical time my experience has been that spirals (visualize DNA or perhaps slinkies), moving, seemingly endless shapes are the modes of travel for existing beings and contain life’s various events.  I can easily see the various scenarios that Jorge speaks of within my vision of time’s structure.

As his poem goes on cascading through many familial generations, speaking of Heyoka, the sacred clown, and uniting history and geographical locations with future visions, it is a delightful read.  I have read the poem thoroughly at least 6 times, and still I notice new details each time.  It is indeed multi-layered, just like time itself.

Throughout this poem, Jorge speaks of various aspects of earth, right down to the dirt as a comfort; a grounding force.  

So it is for me as well.  

I believe I have justified my love for the poem.  You will read it, maybe many times as I did, and you will have your own interpretations and draw your own meaning from it. It captures the multi-dimensionality of existing within a human body in our universe.

Born in Denver, Colorado,  Margaret Chancellor was raised in a few big brick ranch houses in neighborhoods resplendent with lilly of the valley, sweet peas, and pansies.  Juniper bushes too. She has a brother who’s a traveling parody musician.  She’s written poems since she was 6 years old and the words just come to her.  Editing is often a factor.  She is a survivor of 3 severe Traumatic Brain Injuries at ages 6, 20, and 34.  These all changed her life profoundly but did not stop her from writing. She’s performed and not performed between then and now. Mostly not.  She does keep writing though.  It is a priority for her. The career she retired from was Clinical Counseling and Case Management in the Mental Health realm.  She’s done so many other careers too, mostly in hospitals.  By the way, she studied Poetics at Naropa in Boulder, before it was accredited, and also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling and an advanced certificate in Addictions Counseling. She’s preparing to publish a book of poems and art.  Watch for it.  If you’d like to know anything more about her, feel free to ask her.

Jorge Rafael Figueroa is a bona fide member of Pablo Zulu’s legendary Tripulacion Central poetry & hip hop collective from Puerto Rico. He was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Puerto Rico by a Cuban single mother and a Puerto Rican father. After high school, he flew across the Atlantic to land in the lilac gardens, ice storms & stomping grounds of Frederick Douglass & Susan B. Anthony in Rochester New York, where he got his Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and Latin American Literature from the University of Rochester. Shortly after that he lived in an ashram for 8 months searching for Enlightenment and wanting to be a monk until he realized the vow of celibacy was definitely not for him and went back to Puerto Rico where he spent 7 years living the life of a beat poet/hip hopper/environmental & social justice advocate. By 2004 he was done with the Puerto Rican/Macondo political circus and moved from 2004-2008 to White Plains & Ossining & New Haven, where he earned a Juris Doctor and a Master of Forestry from the Elizabeth Haub School of Law and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and where he created & performed as MC with his dream band The Subterraneans (an Eastern European Kletzmer & Serbian Gypsy brass hip hop band with Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban percussion). From 2008-2009 he moved to India as a Fulbright Scholar where he studied climate innovation, community forestry and human-elephant conflict. While in India, he also performed as a poet & rapper in numerous one man shows as part of the Prakriti Poetry Festival (including in Kalakshetra’s Tagore Hall) and was selected as MC for Rhythmica, the official music group of the Indian Institute of Science. In 2009 he moved from the foothills of the Himalayas to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder County, where he has been making Song & making a living ever since as an environmental advocate & solution-maker & living with his children and wife Beth. He hopes to die as his Cuban great uncle poet died—performing poetry with community and his ancestors in the middle of the Areyto. Aché pa ti y pa tó los tuyos.