SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Storyteller, author, and poet Joseph Bruchac was recently named the first Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs. At 80 years old, Bruchac is already fully embracing this role.

To choose the first poet laureate, a committee was put together. Those interested could apply or be nominated. Bruchac said he was actually nominated by someone on the committee. He was then elected unanimously by the committee to be the city’s poet laureate.

In January, Bruchac was formally inaugurated into the role. He then appeared at the Mayor’s State of the City address in February and read an original poem about the city’s history.

According to Bruchac, his role as poet laureate is to encourage the awareness and appreciation of poetry in Saratoga Springs and the greater community. The position is a two-year term that is up at the end of 2025.

As poet laureate, Bruchac is tasked with writing poems about the city and reading poems at selected events. He is soon scheduled to give a presentation at Skidmore College with Sustainable Saratoga about using poetry to create awareness of the environment.

“The City of Saratoga Springs is working very hard to make Saratoga visible as an arts destination,” said Bruchac. This doesn’t just include poetry, but all types of art mediums.

“I believe that poetry is a human activity and that anyone can relate to it,” said Bruchac. “I’d like people to recognize the creativity in everyone.”

Much of Bruchac’s work focuses on his Abenaki heritage and Native American storytelling traditions. His poems, articles, and stories have appeared in more than 1,000 publications.

Since his 20s, Bruchac has been speaking out and learning about Abenaki. His children Jim and Jesse both grew up surrounded by it. Bruchac is not fluent in the Abenaki language, but he said he can understand and speak a lot of it.

After the COVID-19 pandemic started, Bruchac started going on walks with his dog. With his phone in hand, he dictates a haiku poem each day. He probably has about 1,800 haikus by now, said Bruchac. His publisher even put together a children’s book of some of those haikus.

Bruchac has lived in the Saratoga Springs area his entire life. “Right now I am sitting in the building that was my grandparents’ general store and gas station,” said Bruchac. “This is the house, the place where I was raised.”

Bruchac has a bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University, a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio. He previously worked at Skidmore College and was a volunteer teacher in West Africa for three years.

In addition, Bruchac is the Executive Director of the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center, a non-profit organization. The center encompasses the Saratoga Academy of Elite Martial Arts where Bruchac trains.

Since 1973, Bruchac has been training different martials arts styles. He is a fifth-degree black belt in master’s rank in Pencak silat, an Indonesian martial arts style. Around six years ago, he became a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

As poet laureate, Bruchac said he is currently working with local schools on how he can help children write poetry, brainstorming with Saratoga Arts about tying his poetry into various activities, and working with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Caffe Lena, and the Saratoga Book Festival on ways he can get involved.

“If we listen to the world around us and also listen to ourselves, I think we’re going to find a lot of things that can turn into poetry, but also can help us be better people and lead a fuller life,” said Bruchac.