“By Megan Logan”
Lowell Jaeger’s braid, which falls below his beltline, is a result of not cutting his hair for 51 years.
That is almost as long as he’s been teaching and writing. According to Jaeger, his hair has gone in and out of style three times, yet his work remains in fashion.
Rocky Mountain College’s Common Read for the 2019-2020 academic year is Jaeger’s “Earth-Blood & Star-Shine.” The text is an anthology of poems that Jaeger wrote.
Academic Vice President Stephen Germic introduced the author at the 2019 Keynote Address by informing the audience that Jaeger made Rocky history. Jaeger is the first speaker to have given both a commencement speech and a Common Read Keynote. The poet sat in on nine classes during his time on campus, which is the most classes a keynote speaker has visited in the six years the campus has done the Common Read program.
Following the applause that came after his introduction, Jaeger said, “Thank you! As a poet, you’re not used to getting attention.”
The author explained that his collections are formed of poems that he has written as he goes through life, noting that he doesn’t write his poems to specifically fit into a book, he just writes them as they come to him.
He explained that his process for writing is simply walking through the world and watching.
An earlier book, “Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone,” was constructed while the author waited for
a tow truck. When deciding what poems will go in a specific book, Jaeger lays out all the poems written within the last year or so and looks for commonalities between them. This process allows him to find poems that work together without manipulating his writing for poems to relate.
During his keynote, the author held the students’ attention by asking them questions and using a slide-show to display graphics that related to what he was talking about. Jaeger conducted a thought experiment to help the audience learn something about themselves by making them decide between two things.
“Who rules? Your brain or your heart?” The poet gave only 30 seconds for the audience to decide, forcing them into black and white thinkers. The majority of those in the crowd raised their hands to show that they leaned toward their heart being the ruler.
Jaeger went on to ask the audience why they were proud of being a brain or proud of being a heart.
Those who said their brain ruled stated that they were proud that their life isn’t run by their emotions and one student said that he “wouldn’t be doing college if [he] was leaning [toward] heart.” Those who said they leaned toward their heart said they were proud of their passion.
After having the audience reflect on their answers, the speaker emphasized to the students and guests in the audience that those of them who said they were more brain cannot always trust their brain, and that the hearts cannot always trust their heart.
Jaeger continued with his speech and informed the audience that they need to Lowell Jaeger prompts audience to think in 2019 Keynote Address be more alive, aware and engaged. A large part of that is people need to apply their intellectual humility and not pretend to know
more than they actually do.
Jaeger told the audience that they need to find out what makes their brain feel good and then do it.
According to Jaeger, what makes a person feel good comes directly from how they are creative. Everyone is creative in their own way.
It just takes some people longer to find what makes their brain feel good.