After almost 10 years of blue-collar jobs, Naropa University senior Jonathan Huey is finally realizing his dream of becoming a writer.
Huey, 30, has worked many jobs over the years, including as an electronics store sales representative, before leaving the working world and going back to college to become a writer.
"I was making more money at that job than I ever had before," said Huey, who aspires to be a teacher. "But I was so unhappy and I knew it wasn't what I wanted."
With only one class to go before getting his bachelor's degree in writing and literature, Huey already has made his mark in poetry writing with the publication of his first book, "Automatic Zygote" -- of avant garde poetry.
"I was really nervous about putting it out there at first," Huey said. "But now that it's done I'm just happy."
Huey said his profit from the 100-page paperback, which contains 14 poems of various lengths and styles, including the 20-page title poem, won't even cover the cost of his final class.
"I'm not expecting to get rich off of poetry," he said.
The poems were written over a two-year span, during which Huey spent most of his time working, attending classes and participating in poetry readings around Boulder.
"That was my editing process," Huey said. "I would read them out loud and see if people were connecting with them or not paying attention. All of the poems in this book were read somewhere in Boulder in some form or another."
About two years ago he began to notice that several of his poems had a similar theme -- his personal experiences in Boulder. And shortly after his title poem began to emerge.
Tim Hernandez, Naropa alumnus and author, said students at the university have always been self-sufficient, so he's not surprised that another writing student has been published before graduation.
"It's great to see a Naropa student being successful at poetry right now," Hernandez said. "Publishers can't afford to take risks right now, so they are not taking anything that's not fresh and tight."
But Hernandez remains hopeful for students and fellow writers, as he recently finished his third published work.
"I wasn't thinking about a book necessarily just yet," Huey said. "But I decided to turn a poem into the Berkeley Poetry Review and what do you know, they published it."
Huey said after a taste of success, he decided to send out some manuscripts and earlier this month he received the first shipment of his finished poetry book.
"I'm already sold out of my first batch," he said. "I'm hoping to have them in local bookstores soon, but right now they're still available on Amazon or on the publisher's Web site, blazevox.org."
As he begins working on his second poetry book, Brian Buckley, owner of Boulder's only poetry bookstore -- Innisfree -- said poets like Huey are in one of the few cities in the nation that still "respect and support the art."
"I think it is one of the places to be for aspiring poets," Buckley said. "In terms of where poetry begins to materialize, Boulder is an unbelievable community for that."