Colorado Springs Writer’s New Collection of Drowning Poems | Culture & Leisure


There is a hungry lake in downtown Washington.

Located near Manson, Wash., An unincorporated community and a census designated place, is Lake Chelan, measuring about 55 miles long, 1-2 miles wide, and over 1,500 feet deep in places. .

It is also the final resting place for at least nine people – victims of the worst school accident in state history, when a school bus carrying a driver, 20 students and a woman skidded off the road during from a snowstorm in 1945, overturned an embankment and plunged into the lake. Six survived. Seven bodies were recovered. The rest is still missing.

“When you grow up on the shores of Lake Chelan, you are always aware from an early age of drowning and the dangers of water,” said Colorado Springs poet Amber Ridenour Walker. “You learn to swim at 2 years old. You absorb all the horror stories about things that happened to the kids and teens in your hometown – the elders could always tell stories about some of the kids they knew who died.

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Manson is an equally hungry place to grow up. The city has claimed the lives of many of Walker’s friends, due to drugs and suicide. Many others lived in terrible family situations. Walker had a family whose father struggled with mental illness and committed suicide when his daughter was 21.

The current promise between her and her friends was to get out of Manson alive. And people are gone, but they’ve often been somehow mysteriously sucked in. She is the only one in her graduating class who does not live there.

These formative years, spent living under a cloud of aquatic terror stories, form the connective tissue that runs through his new book, “Surfacing”, a collection of poetry published last summer.

“It (the accident) got me thinking about all the different ways you could drown in your hometown, especially in a very small town,” Walker said. “It almost becomes a sort of eulogy for a lot of the people I’ve lost. It follows my experience of all the things that haunt and follow you and your own self-destructive tendencies. Even if you go out of there, figure out how not to choose the same things over and over again, but often it is. “

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The book, available at Poor Richard’s bookstore, as well as online at and, begins with a teenage Walker, moves through her 20s and into the present, where she realizes an unhealthy pattern ingrained in her after her father’s death: attracting self-destructive, sometimes mentally ill and prone people suicide, and figure out how to stop trying to save them so she can save herself.

“Amber Ridenour Walker’s poems plunge headlong into moments of darkness and lust, against the backdrop of heartbreak. Its razor-sharp lines and visceral imagery flaunt “the tear of language / thrown like flags” while always stepping one step ahead of you, pulling your brain on its powerful invisible threads, “Portland, Ore., Wrote. editor, publisher and writer Kevin Sampsell.

Walker freed herself from her hometown after high school, making pit stops in Olympia, Wash., To earn a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Evergreen State College, then in Portland, Oregon, where she read her poems three to three. four evenings a week. to open microphones all over town. She landed in Springs ten years ago, where she completed an MA in Creative Writing and Poetry at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetry at Naropa University in Boulder.

Reading and writing have been steadfast companions since childhood, when Walker used them as a means of escaping the tumultuous waters of family life. His first poem dates back to the third year. His first published poem took place at age 19, when it made its debut in Gumball Poetry, a ’90s trend in the Pacific Northwest that spat out a gumball and bent poem from the ball machines. rubber. Years later, she published poems in numerous publications and two chapbooks.

“It was (poetry) a nasty habit that I couldn’t stop,” she said.

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There was also another usual haircut art form that she learned in high school that she couldn’t stop: the haircut. When she’s not hiding in coffeeshops to be void of words, she circles a barber station at All About Tangles on the West Side, where she’s cut cute pixies, shags, and razor cuts, and perfected natural highlights for four years.

What runs through her veins, however, is poetry: “It feels more like possession,” she said.

The poems in her new book make her feel transparent and vulnerable, but she knows that what she feels like being naked on the page often doesn’t translate to a reader, who might have a hard time deciphering the meaning of a poem.

“It’s more about your emotional response to it than what you think the artist is trying to say,” Walker said.

“Most works of art are some kind of collaboration between the artist’s original intention and the way it is perceived. This is the space where the magic happens. Let go of the urge to understand and just experiment.

Contact the author: 636-0270

Contact the author: 636-0270

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