Poet. Infrastructure creator. Friend. Co-collaborator. Support system. Elyse represents all of these things and more.
I met her with whiskey, learning how to use microphones and not apologizing after reading. She handed me a flyer for some event called Bouldering Poets. Elyse could have handed me a flyer about a mathematics conference and I would have RSVP’d; she has a way about her that invites you to go out of your comfort zone and participate.
I attended Bouldering Poets and read at the open mic. Little did I know that the first time I saw Elyse host an event was the start of one of my first friendships in Boulder. Elyse quickly became a friend, co-collaborator, and support system for me. I became a regular attendant at Bouldering Poets, and if I wasn’t there, Elyse would text me to see if I was okay. The next summer, we took Naropa’s Summer Writing Program by storm as student activity coordinators, encouraging participants to read and present on panels.
Elyse’s compassion goes beyond caring if I’m at a poetry reading and planning events. She took a risk and asked me to bake for her wedding, believing in me from the first taste of my homemade cupcakes. There have been moments where she’s known how I feel better than I know myself. She is the kind of friend that is allowed to say “I told you so” because eventually, you will realize she was right.
All of these qualities translate to her writing. Her first book, the self-published chapbook Floating Away, was released in 2011. In December of 2014, Monkey Puzzle Press published Sinkhole just in time for the holidays.
Elyse’s writing is informative while relating to the self—relating to memory. How we create holes, how we are (w)hole, and how holes build holes while we are bodies that cannot be mapped by anyone else is the beginning of the stitching that attaches me to Elyse’s writing. I am confident that if she were not in our lives, there would be a larger hole, never able to hold memories; never becoming (w)hole.
Elyse Brownell is one of the features at the January 24 Bouldering Poets 6:30 p.m. at Buchanan’s Coffee Pub (1301 Pennsylvania Ave).