The first recipient of the Colorado Authors’ League Lifetime Achievement Award, Lois Beebe Hayna, 104, died April 10, 2017. Born January 28, 1913 in Idaho, she grew up in the small town of Vesper, WI. Despite challenges, she made it to the University of Wisconsin on a scholarship during the Great Depression. She lived in the campus writers house, Arden, and imagined her future as an author. Life demands pushed serious writing aside until her 60s.
Hundreds of literary journals have published Lois’ poetry including The South Dakota Review, Mac Guffin, and Wisconsin Quarterly Review. U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser featured one of Lois’ poems in his syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. “I like this poem (Brief Eden) by 97-year-old Lois Beebe Hayna of Colorado for the way it captures restrained speech. The speaker spends most of her words in describing a season, but behind the changes of spring another significant change is suggested.” Brief Eden also appeared in the New York Times in their “Poetry Pairing Series.”
Four of her nine books of poetry have garnered awards. Two books, written in 2014 and 2015, received the top prize at the Colorado Author’s League.
In 2009, Regis University in Denver awarded Hayna an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. Regis University’s Dayton Memorial Library archives her poetry and her papers. The university dedicated the Lois Beebe Hayna Creative Writing Center in 2010. A recipient of the Colorado Council on the Arts: Rural Artist Series Grant, Lois also received a Colorado Fellowship in the Arts. She received the inaugural Golden Quill Award from the Friends of Pikes Peak Library District and served as Poet Laureate for Colorado Springs. The Colorado Author’s League honored Lois with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Lois was a founding member of the Foothills Arts Center. She started several writing groups, one met for more than 30 years. She helped launch Poetry West and edited the literary journal the Eleventh Muse. Lois wrote poetry that cuts to the core of emotions and ideas. She used simple, direct words that every reader understands. She will be missed by those who knew and loved her. She will be remembered by people who read her poetry.