By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
For local poet Levi Mericle, taking the stage to read his works of art and expressing himself to the entire crowd is nothing new.
However, on Friday night his performance was aimed at one person in particular.
Mericle performed Friday night during a poetry and spoken word open microphone event at the Eastern New Mexico Cultural and Arts Space Center.
The event featured local writers and seven guest poets from the New Mexico State Poetry Society reading their works in an open-mic format.
Mericle began his performance and as he worked his way through his musing, one person in the audience noticed something strange.
“The poem was about me, only I had never heard it before,” said Crystal Salazar, Mericle’s girlfriend.
Salazar said Mericle always shares his poetry writings with her, especially the works he writes for her, so it was strange and surprising to hear this new piece of work for the first time.
Salazar’s puzzlement grew and the atmosphere of the room changed as eyes began to focus on her and Mericle as he continued his performance.
Salazar said as her confusion was growing, Mericle pulled out a box and asked her to marry him.
Her response was “yes.”
“I wanted to propose in front of all of our friends, fellow writers and at the very place we first met,” Mericle said.
Mericle said he met Salazar in November 2013 at Art Space during a poetry event. He said they developed a friendship over the next two years that turned romantic nine months ago. “The open-mic event was the perfect place for me to propose it was just a matter of setting it up and keeping it a secret,” Mericle added.
Mericle’s plan worked as Salazar said she “was totally caught off guard.”
Salazar said she was touched by all of the effort Mericle took in proposing to her, even if that meant keeping his latest works of poetry a secret.
The reading was part of a two-day event sponsored by Art Space and Mesalands Community College.
The second day featured a creative writing workshop led by national champion “slam” poet Zackary Kluckman.
“This event is well received and has a higher attendance than other rural poetry events,” said Andi Penner, NMSPS president.
Penner said traveling to Tucumcari is a wonderful experience with the allure of Interstate 40 and Route 66. She said it gives her and fellow NMSPS poets a chance to get out of Albuquerque to experience a different atmosphere and interact with the artists of the region.
“There are so many styles of poets, writers and arts to be enjoyed around the state,” Penner said. “Tucumcari’s local artists have an unique style all of their own that makes the journey here so enjoyable.”