A group effort to craft Clear Creek poetry

Collaborative poem captures the spirit of the creek

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/30/19

When Kirsten Morgan founded the Write West writer’s group in Golden, she had one clear goal in mind. “I want to inspire people to write and believe in their ability to put images together and …

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A group effort to craft Clear Creek poetry

Collaborative poem captures the spirit of the creek

Posted

When Kirsten Morgan founded the Write West writer’s group in Golden, she had one clear goal in mind.

“I want to inspire people to write and believe in their ability to put images together and sentences together,” she said. “A lot of people say I can’t write and I’m like you can speak pretty well so why can’t you put those spoken words on paper? And I find once people step tenuously into that pond they swim.”

Earlier this year, the 15 or so members of the two-year-old group were reminded of their ability to do just that when they went outside the Golden Visitor’s Center to Clear Creek to collaboratively compose a poem about the beloved body of water.

But what started out as just another of the group’s writing exercises soon became something more as the group decided to ask people across Jeffco to contribute their own lines to the poem.

“For those of us who have lived in Golden for a long time it was a really profound experience to write about something that means a lot and we kind of said wow we can’t be the only ones who feel this way,” Marcie Miller, a member of Write West, said of the decision to open participating in the poem to the wider community.

So the group posted a notice in the Transcript as well as on Golden Today asking anyone who loved the waterway to submit up to three poetic images relating to the creek of no longer than 18 words to the group.

Once the submissions were received, Morgan set about the job of compiling the responses into one community poem. Having never done such a thing before, she says she relied on instinct and found herself going through the submitted lines with a highlighter and noting those that caught her eye. From there, a theme of seasons began to emerge and she found herself ordering the lines of the poem according to the season she felt they fit with, although that had not been her original plan.

Though Miller said she had never imaged the poem would take on a seasonal lens, seeing it in the finished poem immediately made sense.

“I walk along the creek in all different seasons and I find things to love and appreciate about it whether it’s cold and frozen over or rushing and full of people on inner tube, or just in a quiet meditative time in the other seasons,” she said. “It ended up being just perfect.”

Write West member Saoirse Charis-Graves said the finished poem provides a powerful testament to the way disparate voices can create a cohesive whole.

“It’s like ‘wow,’ it’s amazing that different people with different orientations can put words on a page and it can turn into something where you know that it’s talking about, it’s talking about Clear Creek in Golden,” Charis-Graves said.

At the same time, however, she said the poem is also a testament to the way each writer has a voice that is beautiful in a unique way.

With the poem now finished, Morgan said the group is hoping to make further efforts to engage the wider community in writing and poetry.

Those efforts could include inviting members of the community to participate in writing events around Golden similar to the one at Clear Creek and producing more community poems. Though the group does not have concrete plans for those efforts yet, Morgan said interested community members can email WriteWest2020@gmail.com to get more information about the group.

But beyond expanding the group’s reach, Morgan said she also now has a new desire: to someday see the Clear Creek poem displayed on a metal sign or plaque along the creek. She says she is a member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Group that has posted poems on signs around Denver in various locations and believes doing

“It’s a way of inviting people to see how words can engage you with the environment,” Charis-Graves said of the possibility of publishing the poem in along the creek.

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