Have you asked any good questions today?

by Kristin Carlson

As the daughter of first-generation college graduates, I have experienced the power of educational enrichment to change lives in a meaningful way. My father was one of seven children born in a sod house in the Ozark Mountains where he had little access to doctors, let alone luxuries like books and theatre performances. Despite the odds, he graduated high school and college and became a parent determined to put books, music, and theatre within the reach of his own kids. One of the first purchases he made after my oldest brother was born was a set of encyclopedias, so that his children would “know things and see places” beyond our zip code. And despite a tight budget, my parents sent me to drama camp and drove me to rehearsals. They bought tickets to my choir concerts and school plays. And they asked me every day if I had asked any good questions (my father’s personal yardstick for a day well spent). As a Voices board member and teaching artist, this gal “from good hillbilly stock,” as my grandmother used to say, is thrilled to reach out to the next generation with arts opportunities designed to help expand minds, explore gifts, and lift voices to empower our beautiful, diverse community.


"I was able to wake up and realize I could make a change in myself and in the world around me."

Bianca Godina has a powerful voice. She moves through the world with strength, clarity, and an inspiring energy. Renee Prince was introduced to Bianca through her work with Aspen Words' Youth Poetry Slam Project and deepened her connection with this vibrant young woman when she participated in Voices' 2017 Creative ColLABoratory Project at Basalt High School. Following is an interview with Bianca from June 2017: 

RP: Tell me about your experience with Panic! Panico! at BHS. What was the process like? Did anything about the experience surprise you? What did you learn?

BG: Amazing and unbelievable are the words to describe the experience I had in Panic. The process was very interesting. I remember stepping into the library for the information meeting and not knowing what to expect. When we actually started to brainstorm and put things together I was a bit worried that we weren't going to be able to make it to our “deadline.” Other times it was honestly very stressful because of time and all the pressure…My favorite part of the experience was actually getting to work with absolutely everyone in the team and learning how to deal with the times in which we were racing against time and it seemed like it had the chance to beat us. Another lesson I learned was to have more patience with all the setbacks we had, especially having to learn how to write and actually present other pieces of writing outside of the poetic field.

RP: I'm thrilled that you won a 5 Point Film Festival Dream Project Award! Tell us about your project.
BG: This past Spring I was lucky enough to win a $1,500 scholarship from the 5 Point Film Festival Dream Project to make one of my biggest dreams come true. I will be writing and publishing a poetry book which is divided into three sections. The three sections are “dysfunctional families,” “a broken society,” and “teenage thoughts.” I chose those topics because they are issues that I believe all of us have dealt with.

RP: What's your favorite book?  Why?  

BG: El Esclavo or The Slave by Francisco Anand Dilvar has been my favorite book for a while now. This book is about a young man that gets involved in drugs and gets into a car accident. He then is in a Coma for 9 months. During that time he discovers a voice within him that would essentially be your subconscious, but he calls him his guide. Throughout those 9 months he becomes aware of many things including the fact that we are all part of a society that has been broken for decades. I love this book because I saw myself in that young man's story; I've been a slave of my own past and all the mistakes I've made. With this book I was able to wake up and realize I could make a change in myself and in the world around me.

RP: What's your favorite thing you've ever written? Can you share a bit of it with us?
BG: My favorite piece of writing is one that I wrote in 2016 called "Forget the Pain Kid" because I love how the words came out on paper. This poem is one about myself, a little bit about my story. Here is half of that piece:

You tucked up in bed kid

Butterfly blanket, wondering if you could ever be like one of them

White earphones that cover up those gritos

Pencil in one hand journal in the other

The tears running down the paper kid

The loud laugh, big smile kid

That white journal with inspirational words

Walking in a hallway with all this purple pride

Avoiding the fact that you cried yourself to sleep kid

The “portate bien” kid

Stepping on that shiny and squeaky court with hope

Fast runner kid

Ball handling skills and a leadership mentality kid

Forget the pain kid 

Forget the pain

RP: What are your biggest hopes for your community in the future? 

BG: The Roaring Fork Valley is definitely a wonderful place. There are unique people, and I've made great memories and friends here, but just like any other place in the world it's a beautiful flawed place. I have very high hopes for this community. One of them would be for it to become a welcoming place for everyone just like it has been, but I believe we can do even better. Also, as a student I've seen how sometimes adults don't believe that they can learn from us teenagers and children, but I truly think that we can all learn from one another and that our teenage thoughts should be heard. My last biggest hope is for the arts to become a big thing because in my school career I've seen how sports are always a huge part of our community, but art, poetry, and other forms of art not so much. I believe that my community can become equally supportive of both.


The first thing I hung on the bulletin board in our new VOICES' office was a quote by Parker Palmer: 

"When you speak to me about your deepest questions, you do not want to be fixed or saved: you want to be seen and heard, to have your truth acknowledged and honored. If your problem is soul-deep, your soul alone knows what you need to do about it, and my presumptuous advice will only drive your soul back into the woods. So the best service I can render when you speak to me about such a struggle is to hold you faithfully in a space where you can listen to your inner teacher." 

Our board member, teammate, brilliant artist and maker, Shere Coleman, shared this quote with me on the day of our first VOICES Board Meeting. It reminds me that we can invite creativity and meaningful expression into the room when we do two simple things: hold space, and listen. It reminds me that the work of creative risk and bravery first requires a safe place for our feral souls to venture out from their hiding places to play.  

I am giddy and terrified by the prospect of midwifing this organization into the world. But I trust in the wisdom of human beings like Parker Palmer, like Shere Coleman, the entire VOICES team, and the voices I have yet to meet.

And I trust beginnings. Sometimes I yearn for them.