Thursday, December 30, 2010


Tim Christian, as I expected, delighted us all with his short story "The Mantel Clock" on Friday, December 17th. What a fantastic reading-- everyone was able to take a break from the craziness of holiday preparations and enjoy some well-crafted fiction.

Our next reading is scheduled for January 21st, 7:30pm at Black Cat Books in Manitou (as usual). Please mark the date on your calendar, and come prepared to support local writers by possibly purchasing a book or two!

More updates to come on future scheduled writers. Everybody have a great new year!

CSWRS Coordinator

Friday, December 3, 2010


Hi all!

Thanks to each of you that attended November's reading, even though I had to rush to Seattle at the last minute. I am so grateful that Deidre Schoolcraft, the first featured reader for CSWRS back in April, was able to fill in as hostess. I hear the place was packed and Aaron Anstett wowed everyone with some great poems.

We are still scheduled for one more reading in 2010, on December 17th at 7:30pm (still at Black Cat Books). Our featured reader will be Tim Christian, whose fiction has delighted several of us already during his occasional appearances during Open Mic.

Speaking of Open Mic, I wanted to post something I wrote up the other day regarding what this type of setting typically requires from writers and readers alike. I've noticed, at each monthly event, that not all beginning writers (or even experienced ones) are 100% confident with what an Open Mic entails. How many pieces should you read, how long should they be, should they be written in a certain style, what if my voice wobbles-- they're all good questions. I want those who attend this series to feel good about reading their work, and to feel they are in a unique, creative, professional environment. Writing is a craft. So is reading. Both can be daunting. So read on, and let me know your thoughts on the comments page.

I'll see everyone on Friday the 17th at 7:30pm!


An Open Mic is the opportunity for various writers attending a particular reading to present a glimpse of their own work to the audience. Open Mic settings serve as an opportunity to establish unity (through a shared spotlight) at any literary event; many groups get together for strictly Open Mic sessions, without a featured reader to follow. There are two goals accomplished at any successful Open Mic: 1) the writer makes his or her work accessible to a larger audience than they may be used to, simultaneously familiarizing him or herself with the sound of his or her own work, and 2) the audience experiences and enjoys work other than its own. It’s a presentation of diversity, of accessibility, and connection.


Yes, it exists. There are a few guidelines that most Open Mic readers adhere to, even though different events vary in tone, atmosphere, and subject. Here are a few that I’ve noticed over the past couple years, traveling from one reading to the next, each involving both student writers and published authors:

1) Absolutely, positively, completely obey the time limit. The Open Mic sessions for CSWRS allow 3-5 minutes per reader, and it is strongly recommended that each writer reads his or her piece aloud at home, timed, before participating. I remember going to an Open Mic as a high school student in Bellingham, Washington, with a recently sparked interest in poetry; I occasionally went over the time limit because the audience was polite enough to let me. I didn’t realize until later that it was just too awkward to pull me off my soapbox, and that, in fact, everyone wanted to be given an equal amount of time. Even if your piece is well-written and intriguing, an Open Mic may not be the place to present it in its entirety. Read excerpts from prose and a limited number of poems.

2) Typical form for an Open Mic is a brief introduction (Hi, my name is Abby E. Murray, and I’m a writing instructor at the community college”), followed by the title of the piece (“I’d like to read a poem tonight called 'Me and Coyote'") and its content. Let the prose or poetry speak for itself; don’t tell us what it’s about, whether it’s good or bad, or how much you struggled with it. Don’t tell the audience if you’re terrified or embarrassed, and avoid giving the impression that you don’t care or don’t want to be there. If you read your piece at home before attending and it’s not quite ready to “speak for itself”, it may be that you need to wait to present it until you’ve done more revision. If you attend simply to watch and enjoy the work of others, don’t feel intimidated to read. If you do read, simply say “Thank you” when you’ve finished to signal that you’re done, and smile—appreciate an audience that wants to applaud. Don’t linger, but don’t run from the podium before you’ve finished either.

3) Be aware of your body. Avoid pacing, fidgeting, or mumbling. Also, be aware of what you can’t control; if you blush a bright red when you read, so be it. Sweat a little? Fine. Most writers are anxious in some way about presenting their work to a crowd. Remember to focus on the piece itself, not a nervous habit.

4) Consider the content of your work and the setting for the Open Mic you’re attending. For example, if you’re attending a reading where the featured reader is an author of humorous poetry, it might be more interesting to apply that knowledge while you search for possible pieces to read, honing in on pieces that showcase your own unique humor in writing. If you’re attending an Open Mic at a religious university, consider what the host/hostess and audience may not be interested in; showing up to read some graphic erotica at such a setting might make everyone unnecessarily uncomfortable. (I say “unnecessarily” because, ultimately, good writing makes us all a little uncomfortable—enough for us to think in a way we aren’t used to. However, most writers and readers don’t relish humiliation.) Look into the venue, check out the group’s history; in other words, do your research.

5) Show humility but don’t laugh at yourself. This is a personal preference of mine that I think more writers should embrace. Every writer is a lifelong student, continually absorbing new techniques and a fresh perspective. Enjoy this process and take in the reading with an open mind. An Open Mic is not a workshop. It is sometimes difficult to know where to fall, between a healthy grasp of humility and a detrimental sense of self-doubt. I tell my students when they present their work to “be confident, not proud.” Enjoy what you do.

6) Lastly, show appreciation for each other. If a reader’s piece captured your imagination, let them know afterward. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the community.


CSWRS Coordinator

Friday, October 22, 2010


Thanks to everyone who made it out to our October event at Black Cat Books last Friday. Laura Feldman, our featured reader, gave us a glimpse of some new poems as well as a selection from her chapbook, Heading for a Change of Light.

If you missed this reading, Laura's book will still be available for purchase at November's reading for $10, and I recommend it-- it's a beautiful book printed by Finishing Line Press, and Laura's poems on the passage from life to death are rooted in the dedication to her father, David H. Feldman, M.D., who passed away in 2007.

(A funny little story? Because Laura is a private practice family practitioner herself, Natalie (owner of Black Cat) had several calls during the past month asking, "Is my doctor really reading at your store? Can I come?") The turnout of local writers, readers, and students was great, and we all enjoyed hearing the work of a poet so closely tied to the community.

Remember, November's featured reader is Aaron Anstett, previous Poet Laureate for the Pikes Peak Region. Be there or be square... or something. November 19th, 7:30pm, at Black Cat in Manitou (720 Manitou Avenue).


CSWRS Coordinator


Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hey everyone!

Tomorrow night (Friday, October 15) at 7:30pm, I'll be hosting this month's reading, featuring Laura Feldman as our guest author. Same place as last time: Black Cat Books (720 Manitou Avenue), and there will be books for sale afterward and during the intermission.

Tell your writing buddies. Tell your students. Tell your cats, and I'll see you there.

CSWRS Coordinator

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well, if you missed this past Friday's reading, you have my sympathy.

And for those of you who made it, thank you for you participation, engagement, and rapt attention as Jane Hilberry transported us from the cozy stone basement of Black Cat Books to long-lost childhood neighborhoods and the crackling fire of feminine wit and beauty. Jane's book, Body Painting, is still sitting on my table as I write this, dogeared on several pages.

I'm including a link to purchasing her book here, if you'd like to buy it. (Hopefully the link works!) Remember, we have books for sale at these readings to support these authors.

I'll see you October 15th (7:30pm, 720 Manitou Avenue) for our next reading!

CSWRS Coordinator

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Hi everyone!

Just checking-- did you know that Jane Hilberry, instructor at Colorado College and author of the collection of poems titled Body Painting, will be our featured reader for the month of September?

Be sure to get to Black Cat Books (720 Manitou Avenue) early on Friday, September 17th for the 7:30pm start time, when those on the Open Mic sign up will present 3-5 minutes of their own work, followed by a short break for wine and refreshments, then Jane will take us away. She'll have some books for sale (mine will be for sale as well!), and exact change or checks are appreciated!

Bring a poem or snippet of a story to read! And enjoy an evening of community and creative writing!

See you there,
CSWRS Coordinator

Saturday, August 21, 2010

...and fun was had by all!

A big thank you to everyone who made it out to last night's reading in Manitou-- especially the ones who had standing room only! Jenn Koiter pretty much blew us out of the water with her poetry, which seemed to lighten our loads and end our weeks with some much-needed laughter.

Next month's reading is scheduled for Friday, September 17th, at 7:30pm. Same place, Black Cat Books in Manitou, and hopefully parking won't be so crazy without the marathoners in the neighborhood! I think we might have a crowd of students at September's reading, considering the awesome extra credit power these events hold in college classrooms, so get there early. And if you're a writer, bring some work to read for Open Mic!

Here are a couple pictures from last night.

Jenn Koiter, poet, behind the podium-disguised-as-music-stand.

The crowd, which, although cozy, enjoyed the browsing, the wine, and the intimacy that Black Cat Books provides. Thank you, Natalie! We support our indy bookshops!

Tim Christian, who, as usual, delights us during Open Mic with his fiction.

Hopefully I'll see you as well as more new faces next month! This reading was a total success, in my book, and I can't wait for what happens next.


CSWRS Coordinator


Monday, August 16, 2010


I'm happy to announce that we've got several great writers lined up to read over the next several months. This Friday, the 20th of August, we get to hear the poetry of Jenn Koiter, a writer who will be traveling to Colorado Springs from Laramie, Wyoming! Her bio on the link provided is great-- sweet, to the point, and right up the CSWRS alley when it comes to bridging writers and community through accessible and captivating work. Her "thesis" reads:

"I love poems that engage my full faculties as a reader to unearth something hard and true. Smug poems, on the other hand, poems that ask me to work too hard for too little, make me want to heave something heavy across the room. Onto the poet, if possible." (

This reading is going to be fantastic. Be sure to catch it at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs, Friday at 7:30pm, in the downstairs portion of the store. Get there a little early and start sipping some wine from the wine bar! This venue will be cozy... and you can keep your shoes on!

See you Friday night!

CSWRS Coordinator

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


A quick update, here: we're still scheduled for our monthly event on August 20th at 7:30pm. I'll be announcing the featured reader shortly! Be prepared with some material for Open Mic-- I'd love to hear 3-5 minutes of your best poetry or prose. (Sign up at the door, ten readers max!)

Here's a big change, though: we're moving to Black Cat Books at 720 Manitou Avenue! Make sure you take note of the change. I may actually stop by Inner Space, our old venue (which isn't too far away from downtown, maybe ten minutes' drive), to leave a note on the door for those who haven't checked the blog. Natalie-- at Black Cat-- seems like a gracious hostess, and the venue will be just as intimate.

Featured reader to be announced soon... stay tuned! And I'll see you on the 20th!

CSWRS Coordinator


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Well, our July event seemed to go off without a hitch! We had writers from varying genres stand up to read for the Open Mic section, some new faces in the crowd, and Cicily Janus' reading from her new book The New Face of Jazz was (seriously) fantastic. Everyone left the room feeling inspired, including me, and I felt the overwhelming sensation of a community coming together for the sake of creativity.

No new blogs to report, so I'm just posting the ones we already have and want to keep an eye on for new work:

I now have an email list started up for this series. We may be moving to a new venue soon, and I want to be able to let everyone know beforehand. Look out for emails from!

Hope to see you all again on August 20th, at our next event! (Featured reader TBA.) Thanks for coming!

Cicily Janus reading from The New Face of Jazz

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Hi everyone!

Just a quick update here. I'm currently in Oregon, hosting a delightful reading series at the Pacific University MFA Program, but I'll shortly be returning to Colorado Springs. While I've been here, though, I've scheduled the next featured reader, Cicily Janus, who will be reading some of her work at our event on Friday, July 16th, at 7:30PM.

Yep, you heard right, we're back on schedule this coming month. (Did you miss it in June??) I'm really looking forward to it.

Also, I'll have books available for sale from Jessy Randall, the May featured reader, as well as my own.

See you then!

CSWRS Coordinator

Sunday, May 30, 2010


As promised, I've posted some photos from our May reading, featuring poet Jessy Randall. I also wanted to list the blog sign up sheet, which is still growing. Supporters of the reading series should look up each other's writing and enjoy it! Give feedback and connect.

Debbie Allen's work:
Angela Giles Klocke's work:
Sue Spengler's work:
(my poetry can be found at:

If anyone else has a writing blog they'd like me to post, let me know. Leave a comment or send me an email. Remember, next month's reading is cancelled due to my traveling out of state (I'm sure I'll post some exciting news about the writers gathering at Pacific University's MFA readings, though.) Our next reading is scheduled for FRIDAY, JULY 16th, at 7:30pm.

Oh! One more thing I thought you poets might enjoy. I met with Sharon Cumberland while I was in Seattle last week (her poetry is intelligent and graceful, I love it) and she showed me a neat compilation of poetry she's been teaching in her writing classes at Seattle University. It's called Story Hour: Contemporary Narratives By American Poets, and I highly recommend it. (That's the link to Story Line Press, where you can most easily purchase a copy.) The first poem Sharon pointed out was Linda McCarriston's "Le Coursier de Jeanne D'Arc," and it was stunning. No other word for it.

Okay, on to the pictures. Thanks for reading, everyone!

Jessy Randall, featured reader

Bryce Crawford, open mic poetry reading

Edie Adelstein, open mic prose reading

Everyone's smiling, so it must be good!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Hi everyone!

Thanks to those of you who came to this past Friday's reading. I really enjoyed meeting most of you, and what a great sample of new work during open mic, plus Jessy Randall's poetry, which kept us all smiling. A great time had by all, I say!

Those who would like to purchase one of Jessy Randall's books, come to the next reading and I'll have a couple available then too. Just a reminder: the next reading is Friday, July 16th, at 7:30pm. The featured reader will be announced later. For more updates, you can also look at the Inner Space website at

Anyway, this is just a brief update to let you know that I'm going to post those new blogs added to the blog sign up when I return to Colorado Springs next week. (I flew out to Seattle the morning after the reading.) I'll also be putting up some pictures from the reading as well. So stay tuned!

And how, for the love of Mike, did I not think to use that enormous gong to get things started at the first reading?! I think that's a great way to get our minds going and ears buzzing!

Take care!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm happy to announce that the next Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series event will take place on Friday, May 21st, at 7:30pm inside the Inner Space studio at 322 N. Tejon.

Our featured reader will be poet Jessy Randall! What a pleasure to sit down with her over coffee. You can find out more about Randall's work here.

The evening's format will be the same as our April event: 20 minutes reserved for Open Mic, a short break, and 20 minutes of Jessy Randall's selections. There will be books for sale (mine, plus Jessy's) as well as a place to sign up your writing blogs for connecting with other local writers. Same Inner Space rules apply, too, so remember to take off your shoes before entering the warm, beautiful room we're using.

Hopefully we'll see another great crowd, a mix of local writers, students, professionals, and those community members looking for a unique way to spend the evening.

Signs are popping up around town, so tell your friends to come too. Enjoy yourself and some creative writing!

See you there,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I wanted to let everyone know about a reading that's going to be happening here in Colorado Springs, soon! A friend of a friend of mine, Jacqui Johnson, is going to be visiting from London in early May, and she'll be presenting a paper of hers titled Villainy, Sluttony, and the Seduction of Genre in Shakespeare's Richard III. From what I've heard so far, it sounds fabulous.

So, if you're into Shakespeare, or writers, or the arts, come have a listen. Jacqui sounds like a lively critic. Still not sure if there will be refreshments for this, but I'm hoping I can contribute to that arena.

Friday, May 7th, 5PM
UCCS Campus
University Center, Room 116A

See you there!

REMINDER: Next CSWRS reading is scheduled for May 21st, 7:30PM, at the Inner Space Studio. Featured Reader still TBD.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Hi everyone!

(REMINDER: NEXT READING IS MAY 21, 2010, AT 7:30PM. Location still TBD.)

Thanks so much to everyone who attended last night's reading at Inner Space. What a success! The venue, although not wine-and-beverage-friendly, was cozy and beautiful and had great sound. The open mic readers were sharing some fantastic bits of writing, and Deidre Schoolcraft's novel excerpt was, as promised, right to the point; it kept everyone listening for more.

I'm going to post some pictures, but first I wanted to list the writers' blogs left on the sign up sheet. These are the addresses where you can find more creative work by authors attending last night's reading:

Debbie Allen's work can be found at:

Angela Giles Klocke's work can be found at:

My own work can be found at:

Also, thanks to those who bought a copy of my book, Me and Coyote. If you're still interested, leave a comment with your email address and I'll get in touch with you. I still have seventy-six copies in my dining room, and they all need homes!

Now, for some pictures!

The crowd, deep in thought.

Me going over the reading format at the beginning. See, a beautiful room, no?

Tim Christian reading a short story for Open Mic.

Deidre Schoolcraft, our featured reader and author of Migratory Birds.

And a more artistic shot: here we have Audrey Birkett, composition and Shakespeare instructor, explaining the finer points of Tibetan art to the strange stuffed Emu that lives in the Inner Space studio.

Thanks again everybody! I'll be posting more updates soon...


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The premier date for our reading series has been confirmed:

at the Inner Space studio located
at 322 North Tejon Street.

Our featured reader will be Deidre Schoolcraft, creative writing instructor at Pike's Peak Community College. She will read shortly after the open mic presentations.

If you are a student hoping to sign up for the open mic portion of the evening, try to get there by 7:20ish. We will only be able to have TEN open mic readers per event.

A small note about our venue: since Inner Space is a well-known yoga studio in Colorado Springs, the owners ask that you remove your shoes at the door. The room is lovely, artistic and intimate, and there are small cubbies outside the door for you to leave your shoes. Just another quirk we writers get to work with!

Also, donations will be collected at this event. We ask that you give whatever you feel you can, a dollar or two would be great. You will also be able to purchase books by local writers... as of now, I only have one title, so if you're a local writer or small press interested in selling work, please contact me at

Looking forward to it! More updates to come!

CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Hello, writers and literature lovers!

I am so excited to be getting this reading series off the ground, and I'm glad you've shown up to participate.

As of today, I've penciled in the premier reading for Friday, March 12th, at 7:30pm. These readings will always take place at Inner Space, a beautiful room most often used as a yoga studio in downtown Colorado Springs. Check out Inner Space online here.

I will post more information soon with details, including who the featured reader will be, how long we'll allow for open mic, and what to expect in general.

Until then, thanks!

CSWRS Coordinator