When Shoshoni rancher Echo Klaproth was named Wyoming Poet Laureate, she said she was both humbled and a little hesitant. "Even the most celebrated writer, the most prolific writer, the most confident writer has their moments of doubt," she said. "I think it's innate in human nature."
Her husband offered her words of wisdom that inspired her confidence: The Governor chose you, he told her. Be who you are, do what you do, give it the best you've got and stand on your convictions.
It's the same type of encouragement she wants to offer to other writers. She wants people to have confidence in who they are and what they are called to do, "trusting full well that they are here for a purpose." She wants to help others keep self-doubt at bay.
Echo attended her first Wyoming Writers conference in 1990, connecting with the group of writers who would later split off into WyoPoets. Networking with other poets, she said, gives her "Feedback, encouragement, inspiration -- a feeling of not being alone in this calling, in this passion."
We don't write for every audience, she said, and not everything we write is our absolute best. When she runs a poem by a friend or family member, she might hear "that's great!" She needs more than that, and she receives that from her fellow poets who understand agonizing over the placement (or not) of an "an" or a "the." She also finds it fulfilling to be part of something larger than herself and to be with like-minded souls.
What inspires her own poetry? "Life," she said. "People. Situations. I never know. I'm going to say God, too. I never know when thoughts are going to come. Sometimes the words come right away, sometimes it takes months or years. Sometimes it's just something someone needs to hear -- a phone call, a letter."
Echo is the featured presenter at the upcoming WyoPoets Annual Workshop on April 18-19 in Casper, Wyoming. Material for part of the workshop has been contributed by Pat Frolander, a former Wyoming Poet Laureate.
Participants are asked to bring one traditional or free verse poem from three to six stanzas in length. Echo plans on making it an interactive experience -- something that she can learn from, too. "I want people to understand that I'm one of them," she said. "I've never been asked to do workshops before. Suddenly, I'm the Wyoming Poet Laureate and the doors have started opening."
Writing can be a lonely pursuit, she said. "For those of us who can't not write, for those of us who work in isolation," it's important to know that we are not alone."
The 2014 Annual WyoPoets Workshop in Casper, featuring Wyoming Poet Laureate Echo Klaproth, will be held April 18-19. Registration fee for the workshop is $50 until April 8th; after that the fee will be $55. Lunch is included. A block of rooms is available at the Hampton Inn for $89.00 per night (plus tax). Call 307-235-6668 and say that you are with WyoPoets. The room rate is good only for the night of Friday, April 18.
Don't forget the Friday night poetry reading and launch of the new WyoPoets chapbook, Weather Watch: Poems of Wyoming. The event takes place from 6-8 p.m. on April 18 at the Metro Coffee Company, 241 S. David, Casper.
Find out more on the WyoPoets website at www.wyopoets.org.