For over ten years I commuted twice a week between Tucson (where I was that city’s first Poet Laureate 1997-2002) and upper East side Manhattan to teach in the writing program at Hunter College. I’ve also been Visiting Writer at New York University, Amherst College, Interlochen Arts Academy, University of Montana etc. and as Distinguished Visiting Writer at Wichita State University and Pacific Lutheran University. In the 70’s-80’s, as a Poet-in-the-Schools, I taught in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, Mississippi, including work with the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Tohono O’odham, Navajo, Hopi, and Wind River Nations. After years, first as a student then as a teacher in colleges and universities, the experience of encouraging children to write imaginatively restored my sense of the wonder at the root of poetry; working with native children gave me the chance to see into a world where the everyday sacred nature of the world was still intact and vital to so many hearts and minds.”
“I’ve also taken jobs as a laborer throughout the west: in Washington, I worked as a bouncer in pre-World’s Fair Pioneer Square, as night manager for a fuel oil company, in stockrooms, in a shipyard, and as an experimental subject for the U.S.A.’s first manned space flight (all in Seattle); in California I worked in a factory (Stockton), at a department store, in a bank, and as a Teamster unloading railroad cars (San Francisco), moving furniture (Manhattan Beach), washing dishes (Fort Bragg); in Arizona he worked first as a chute-tapper at a copper mine half a mile underground (San Manuel) then as Poet Laureate (Tucson). I’ve worked since I was 1l, when my father was killed and we lost everything. There was little choice about it, but necessity threw me into many situations that challenged my preconceptions about both the world and myself. Writing was an early life-line; ultimately it was a link to the great mothership of literature and the arts, their implied communities inexhaustibly various and rich in the companionship and adventure that so rarely materializes in daily life.”
Now he and his wife, poet Pamela Uschuk, live in Southwestern Colorado near the Weminuche Wilderness with a cadre of animal companions including the wolf-dogs Happy and Lulu, plus Sadie (born a kitty she soon opted to be a wolf too). Summer 2006, they will team-teach a workshop for Prague Summer Programs. When not off giving readings or acting as poetry editor for CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts, Root enjoys hiking, kayaking, canoeing, or just heading off for the backcountry with an old SLR Nikon in his even older Land Cruiser. Poetry, he suggests, is a news and weather report from the soul.