Western Colorado Writers’ Forum Founder Sandra Dorr Brings Wordsmiths Together
by Leslie Vreeland
May 06, 2012 | 1848 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From Sandy Dorr’s office window overlooking the Colorado National Monument, the brown desert bluffs seem limitless. Dorr’s ability to envision her life’s work, and then create it, seems the same way. In the course of her career, Dorr has been a political activist, a popular writing teacher and a published poet, but she longed to do something more. “I’ve always wanted to bring writers together,” says the founder of the Western Colorado Writers Forum. “I grew up in a Catholic family with a social conscience. I want to do something to the make the world a bit better.”

With the creation of the Writer’s Forum, she has. The group’s mission is to foster a dynamic literary community “that advances the culture of western Colorado.” In the roughly two years since Dorr started it, the WCWF has placed volunteer writing-teachers at charitable groups Catholic Outreach and Latimer House. Dorr and fellow poet Jill Burkey taught poetry writing to Pomona Elementary students whose poems morphed into a “Poetry in the Streets” campaign, supported by the Grand Junction Art Commission and the Downtown Development Authority, and displayed along Main Street. Dorr’s group is behind “Poetry in the Air,” daily broadcasts on KAFM radio. Last fall the WCWF hosted its first conference, “The Language of this Land.” Guest speakers included the author Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony) and Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason.

Next Saturday, May 12, WCWF offers its spring fundraiser, a chance to meet and share a raft trip down the Colorado River with Pam Houston, the author of i>Cowboys Are My Weakness, who will read from her new book, Contents May Have Shifted, at Colorado Mesa University later that evening. The trip will be guided by the Canyonlands Field Institute. Houston, an avid river runner, and representatives from CFI will “share history, river stories, wildlife lore, and also interpretive talks on the ecology and geology of the canyon during the trip, teaching participants how to read the river,” Dorr says. The river trip is part of the WCWF’s “Earth, Wind and Water” series, in which poet Rosemerry Trommer and translator Daniel Ladinsky will read from their new books on, respectively, Rumi and Hafiz, and author Craig Childs will read from his work and present a slideshow on his geological exhibitions. In July, the WCWF will host Young Writer’s Camps, offering poetry, puppetry and story-writing classes at local elementary and middle schools.

Dorr’s previous decade was spent teaching writing classes and raising her children. She’s also spent serious time getting to know the place where she and her husband built their new house – a source of much creative inspiration. “I wanted to get up every day, to get to know and walk this land, know these trees, this clayish earth and this sky,” she says. Once her kids were grown, her brainchild was born. “I finally got enough space. I had a long, bright dream,” she says of the Forum. “I’m very much a writer, but I feel like I was born to make something else happen. And because I’m a writer, this was the only thing I could think to do.” For more on the WCWF and its programs, visit westerncoloradowriters.org.

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