For May Rose, it’s been fun; but she’s not done
Aspen’s summertime poet May Rose Salkin won’t be returning to town for the first time in 35 years.Diagnosed with coronary heart disease in January, the part-time Aspen resident said her doctor recommends she not spend time at high altitudes. Salkin, who turned 85 a week ago, will instead send her work this summer to The Aspen Times from her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y.Salkin’s poems – short, rhyming pieces about her summers in Aspen – are well known to locals and other part-time residents. The retired English teacher sent stacks of her work to both local newspapers between June and August, and got at least two printed a week. That added up to about 50 to 60 poems per summer, she said.But Salkin and her poetry were also known in Aspen for attracting critics, some more harsh than others, mocking her poetry-style letters on newspaper editorial pages.”At first, I got annoyed with that, and I used to answer,” she said of the sharp responses to her work. “But I thought that was ridiculous, so I stopped responding. But some people wrote very clever poems [in response].”Salkin said she and her late husband, Marty, began spending summers in Aspen 35 years ago after their children visited and raved about the small town in the mountains. Martin passed away in 1999, but May Rose continued to be a part-time resident, keeping up with her friends and driving around in a rental car.”I’ll miss seeing all the wonderful people in Aspen, and having everyone say hello to me,” she said. “I’d spend days going to concerts and having lunches and suppers out, and wherever I went I had a bag full of notebooks and papers to write with.”Salkin first got hooked on writing when she was 10, and sent her first poem to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, getting it published and receiving $5 from the paper. She studied English and journalism through school, and wound up as an English teacher for 47 years in Brooklyn’s public schools.Since she’s currently taking a class in jazz and a class called Music Through the Ages at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College, Salkin said this summer’s poetry will probably focus on the school and the students – especially the school’s overbearing air conditioning system.”They still dress like Britney Spears even though it’s freezing in there,” she said. “The girl next to me had huge goose bumps the other day.”Salkin recently gave her first public poetry reading at a neighborhood tea house in Brooklyn, reading three of her poems to a roomful of poetry lovers.”They all laughed – I don’t write anything serious,” she said.But the last poem Salkin had published in The Aspen Times waxed nostalgic about the end of her time in this small town.Back-to-Brooklyn time is near.The thought of saying “goodbye” is dreary.I love the glory of large and small.In fact, Aspen, I love you all.- May Rose Salkin
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