Thursday, December 1, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, poet and writing instructor Sandy Tseng read selections from her book of poems, Sediment, as well as some new work yet to be published. We were again situated in the main gallery of the BAC in Manitou Springs, where impressive oil paintings had been hung on every wall. Sandy's work orbited round two themes that are actually closely linked in emotional quality: tragedy overseas, and loss. Her volunteer work in Haiti shone through as strongly as her love for her ill and aging yellow lab, Hamlet.

I've always felt that the way a writer responds to animals, especially those closest to her, the ones she's cared for and let care for her, is one of the simplest indicators of how her creative process works. Our link to imagination is what we know through experience. Sandy's poems showed the November audience how her particular experiences with others, human or animal, became catalysts for poetic composition. Her book will still be available for sale at the December reading, in case you missed out on buying a copy!

December, the month of chilly green and white, of busy schedules and holiday baking, will shake things up a bit for the Writers Reading Series. At our next event, Friday, December 9th, at 7:30 in the BAC, the Open Mic list will be shortened to a maximum of three readers (still 3-5 minutes apiece) in order to accomodate our three featured readers: fiction writers Tim Christian, Michael Ferguson, and M.R. Hyde will be in the spotlight with short selections of their own works. These writers have just begun to publish their works more widely, and the audience will have a chance to support them. These are also the three writers that have attended CSWRS events most regularly, captivating us during their Open Mic readings.

I look forward to seeing everyone there. Spread the word about CSWRS, too, and bring a friend. Speaking of spreading the word... I'm going to be teaching an English 227 (Poetry Writing) course through Pikes Peak Community College in the spring, Monday nights from 5:30 till 8, if any of you Colorado writers is interested. You don't have to be a poet to participate, either-- in fact, I recommend poetry classes to fiction and nonfiction writers all the time. As a poet, I've learned a great deal from the prose classes I've taken in the past. So, if you know anyone who may be interested in this course, tell them to contact me!

See you on the 9th at 7:30!

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Monday, October 24, 2011


Kathryn Eastburn, featured reader for this month's Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series, showcased selections from her books of essays as well as her regular column ("The Middle Distance") for the local NPR station, KRCC. Her imagination captivated everyone as much as her personal perspectives on writing and loss.

A week after the reading, I was back at the BAC for a preview-exhibit of artist Laura BenAmots' collection of larger-than-life paintings under the title "Battle Portraits." Laura emphasized how much her work functions as a part of soldiers and their stories as they became involved in the arts after or between deployments. Kathryn was at the preview as well, and, over glasses of wine and mini-cupcakes, we continued discussing her idea of starting an eight-week workshop for soldiers and vets interested in creative nonfiction. The pilot workshop will take place in January 2012, and I get to be part of it too, teaching a couple weeks of poetry within it. If you know someone who might be interested in enrolling, please email me and let me know (, or have that person email the series blog address so I can pass the messages to Kathryn.

Next month, on Friday, November 11th, Denver poet Sandy Tseng will be our guest author. Sandy currently teaches at Metropolitan State College and is the author of a book of poems called Sediment. She's been a delight to work with and I can't wait for everyone to hear her work.

Remember, we're usually in the main gallery of the BAC, but sometimes we end up moving due to various art exhibits. If we're in Venue 515 again, there will be plenty of signs posted directing everyone next door. Not a major change.

See you guys next month,

Abby E Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

P.S. My pumpkin cookies complimented the wine bar well at the reading. Just thought I'd say so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


So, last Friday was amazing.

George Drew, pictured at right (with his good friend, poet Lynn Wagner, in the front row) charmed us all with new poems as well as pieces from his book American Cool. Frankly, I think "Our Daughter Is Becoming Elvis" might be one of my favorite poems to emerge in this series.

I am grateful for George's presence here during his stay in Colorado, just as I am indebted to those Open Mic readers who showcase snippets of their work for the pleasure of the community. Thanks, everyone. For this reading, we packed the BAC, running out of chairs before the Open Mic was even started.

And, before I get all mushy, let me quickly say that I have been so touched by the donations you've contributed to keep CSWRS afloat. As of now, we've raised enough money to fund October, November, and most of December's events.

Speaking of future months, be sure to catch Kathryn Eastburn at our next reading on October 14th. Kathryn's nonfiction works and creative contributions to both KRCC and The Independent make her one of the most genuine local writers in this community.

We'll be in the BAC gallery again, at 7:30pm, October 14th. I truly look forward to seeing you there, as I always look forward to meeting new writers and readers in the area.

Have a great September,

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Friday, September 9, 2011


Tonight, at 7:30pm, the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series will host featured reader George Drew. We'll also have an Open Mic session to kick things off, with the usual limit of ten readers maximum, each allowed 3-5 minutes of prose or poetry reading.

If you're new to the Open Mic thing, I'll have more copies of a handy insight available-- just something I typed up a couple months ago regarding a few tips for every reader. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of students, new writers, lovers of lit, and local writers tonight!

One more thing: I think I'm going to retire the blog sign up list, as I just don't have room on the book table anymore! Too many good books for sale! So, here's a re-cap of all the blogs of writers in our area. Check them out and leave comments!

Tom Preble:
Marie Ostarello:
Julianza Shavin:
Dan Gardner:
Joseph Uphoff:
M.R. Hyde:
Amanda Coburn:
Debbie Maxwell Allen:
Angela Giles Klocke:

Have fun with each other's work, guys. Stay connected and support each other! I'll see you all this evening at the BAC - 513 Manitou Avenue.

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Last Friday night, August 12th, Lynne Bryant read a selection from her debut novel, Catfish Alley. And, as I do every month, I sat behind the book table and watched the audience fall under the spell created whenever a story is told-- we lean forward a bit, the corners of our mouths lift in little flinching smiles when a main character triumphs, our eyes soften a little and the stress of the week melts away just slightly. We leave our town and spend time in the homes of the characters.

Catfish Alley will particularly appeal to those of you who have read The Help, though it's important to know how Catfish Alley follows a very different storyline, even when the location and theme strike similar chords. If you weren't able to purchase a copy of Lynne's book at the reading, you'll be happy to know that I've got several copies on hand for you at the next event, each for $15.

Speaking of the next reading: George Drew, poet from New York and author of several manuscripts including The View From Jackass Hill and American Cool, will be our featured guest on Friday, September 9th at 7:30pm. We'll begin, as always, with an Open Mic session of ten readers maximum, each allowed 3-5 minutes of prose or poetry.

Please come purchase books to support our authors! Or, buy a beer or glass of wine for you and your date at the bar. This supports the BAC in Manitou, and I, for one, am thankful for their contribution to this series.

I'll see everybody on Friday, September 9th, at 7:30pm in the BAC main building. For now, have enjoy the rest of this scalding summer!

Abby Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, July 21, 2011


On July 8th, Donita K. Paul showcased an excerpt from her fantastic YA novel, Dragonspell, the first in the Dragon Keeper Chronicles. The series has moved forward into several novels since its publication in 2004, and Donita has recently expanded her writing adventures into the realm of children's books.

Actually, I purchased a copy of The Dragon and the Turtle (co-written with Donita's daughter Evangeline Denmark) for my four-year-old niece in Washington state, and I've been informed that she was over the moon about it-- and is sending me some hand-drawn pictures in thanks. The storylines of Donita's books are each full of whimsy, as well as the practicality that comes from an imagined character's voice. I've been told that many people who attended that Friday's reading enjoyed most Ms. Paul's eagerness to connect with the crowd, answer questions about everything from plot to publishing, and, of course, the Open Mic participants that kicked off the evening.

Next month, CSWRS will be hosting fiction writer Lynne Bryant, whose debut novel, Catfish Alley, was published in April of this year. Lynne has popped up on our Open Mic list before, and it's going to be a delight to hear her read with a publication under her belt. The Southern Literary Review has said of Catfish Alley, "[it] brims with humor and pathos in equal parts, with realistic, three-dimensional characters sure to delight and intrigue from the start. Of all the novels set in the South, Lynne Bryant's debut novel deserves an honored place on any bookshelf."

I hope to see you all on Friday, August 12th, at 7:30 in the BAC in Manitou. August, like July, will take place in Venue 515 (515 Manitou Avenue) due to an exhibit in the BAC's main gallery. Remember to support the authors by buying books at the book table, and support the BAC by purchasing wine and soda at the bar!

See you in August!

CSWRS Coordinator

Friday, July 8, 2011

quick change!

Just a tiny update: tonight's reading with Donita K. Paul will be hosted in the building next door to the BAC's main gallery, in Venue 515. We'll have signs up on both doors, so you should be able to find your way.

See you tonight!

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Monday, July 4, 2011


Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting poet Juliana Aragon Fatula at the CSWRS's new venue, the main building of the Business of Arts Center in Manitou Springs. Juliana's poems were electric, filling the room and our minds with everything from the sassy to the aromatic. Her poetic voice spread a blanket beneath what brings family together in writing, in history - food, competition, politics, loss, mystery.

I think, as I sat back at the book table, the audience was captivated by both Juliana's poems and her dramatic energy; the surge of intensity in her writing is equally met by her ability to perform and engage. If anyone has the opportunity to hear Juliana read in the future, I say jump on it! Hailing from Cañon City, she has participated in CSWRS as well as the Southern Colorado Reading Series (sponsored by CSU-Pueblo).

(Juliana enchants the crowd in the center of the BAC's gallery)

This Friday, July 8th, CSWRS will be hosting author Donita K. Paul. Her credits include both the Dragonkeeper Chronicles and the Chiril Chronicles, as well as the new children's book The Dragon and the Turtle. She's a weaver of fantasy stories, and I'm really looking forward to hearing her work in a couple days.

Bring a friend and come early to wander around the BAC's gallery space beforehand. Also, remember that we have some great titles for sale at great prices:

(our book table, with titles from yours truly as well as Lynn Wagner, Laura Feldman, Jessy Randall, Juan Morales, and more!)

I'll see you all on Friday the 8th, at 7:30pm, at 513 Manitou Avenue. Looking forward to it!

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Poet Juliana Aragon Fatula will be joining the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series as the featured author for tomorrow night's event (Friday, June 10th).

Remember, CSWRS has moved to the main building of the Business of Arts Center (513 Manitou Avenue), not far from its previous home. Open Mic begins, as usual, at 7:30pm. Sign up for Open Mic when you arrive, and come prepared to purchase books for sale by local authors!

See you all then,

CSWRS Coordinator

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Remember, there is no reading this month (May) and we will reunite in June. Specifically, June 10th, at 7:30pm in the main building of the Business of Arts Center at 513 Manitou Avenue. A big thank you to Jana at the BAC for working with me on landing such an artistically inspiring venue. We will be hosting events at the BAC from now on! We will have books for sale, refreshments, and a genuinely good time for all.

Our featured writer in June will be Juliana Aragon Fatula, author of Crazy Chicana in Catholic City, and I'm really looking forward to it-- Juliana is a fantastic poet who was recently accepted to take part in the Macondo Writer's Workshop in San Antonio this July.

The best way to stay informed about the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series (and share this information with others) is to check this blog every now and then, or join the email mailing list. (No more than two emails a month-- I promise!) We are no longer going to be sticking to a third-Friday-of-the-month schedule; instead, we'll most likely be hosting an event every second Friday of the month. I will let you know when this is confirmed for future readings. Until then, keep your ears open!

Also, and I just have to put this out there, I'm teaching an English 227: Poetry Writing course this summer through Pikes Peak Community College, and I wanted to let all those who might be interested know that they should enroll! The class will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Centennial campus, from 1-3:15pm. If you know of any students or potential poets who might be interested in studying feminist, political, surreal, and formal poetry with me for ten weeks, let them know. The class will be part workshop format.

Thank you so much to those of you who have attended CSWRS events over the past year. Your presence forms the literary stamina of the series, and I'm grateful to have seen you there!

CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It's hard to believe that, one year ago, this reading series hosted its first event in downtown Colorado Springs. Deidre Schoolcraft, the first featured author, read a selection of her fiction, and the Open Mic list revealed an array of creative literary tastes. Afterward, the audience mingled (shoeless, in the yoga studio we started out in) and helped put away chairs, laughing and smiling about the stories and poems they'd spent the evening listening to.

It was the first time I felt truly welcome in a new town, and it was entirely because of the connection between writing and community-- what it brings out in people, what it allows them to let go of. I am so thankful for the opportunity I've had to host this series for you, and if I could, if berries were in season and I didn't have a stack of papers to grade, I would make each of you a jar of homemade jam. I'm that grateful!

This month, Iver Arnegard, our featured author and instructor from CSU-Pueblo, read a selection from his poetry collection, Welcome to Deadhorse, as well as a powerful piece from Levant, his current work-in-progress highlighting his experience as an instructor at the American University of Beirut. (Those of you interested in purchasing a copy of Welcome to Deadhorse: please contact Iver directly at The audience was rapt. His words had us coiled around his finger, even when he stopped a moment to say, "I'm not purposefully trying to depress you." His writing, infused with humility and imagery capable of transporting us overseas, left me marveling at the role of writing in human survival. Without it, we would surely be lost, unable to connect to one another, silent.

I'd like to thank Christopher Gilbert, too, for photographing the event. Here's a wonderful shot of Iver with the audience:

Thank you, also, to the many wonderful Open Mic readers who have signed up to read their work over the past year. I hope you all continue to make this series part of your regular writing routine.

That reminds me, I need to thank Natalie Johnson, owner of Black Cat Books, who has graciously opened her doors to this series (as well as several other regular creative arts functions). As I announced last week, Black Cat is changing shape (combining store space with Safron) and will no longer be able to host us, but we are in the works with the Business of Arts Center, and I will announce the new location as soon as it's settled.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates. And remember, I'm taking the month of May off to travel, and we will resume our regularly scheduled readings in June!

Thanks to all of you!

CSWRS Coordinator

Monday, March 28, 2011


I have been remiss these past couple weeks, and this review of March's reading is coming to you late! For those of you who weren't at this month's reading, remember that next month (April) is National Poetry Month. Iver Arnegard will be our guest author, and his reading will also mark the one-year birthday of the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series! Hurray!

I wish I could reach the photographer from The Independent who was clicking away on her beautiful camera at the reading for Janele Johnson on the 18th. (Are you out there, photographer?) I only have one picture to share from Janele's reading, but it's probably nowhere near as crisp as the ones a professional could take. Still, I have to post this one. Janele's poetry truly lit up the room, warmed our faces into smiles-- something we all know great literature is capable of, even when the message or metaphor aren't necessarily cheerful! Janele's narratives had this lyrical intimacy I really connected with, and so did the audience. So, thanks, Janele!

Remember, Juliana Aragon Fatula is still going to be reading as a featured author, but her appearance has yet to be rescheduled. Stay tuned for that!

Here's another update: I recently received an email from, from The Academy of American Poets, and it made a good point: it costs money to keep poetry and poetry education circulating in our towns and cities! For National Poetry Month, is asking for donations of any size, and I thought I might put a "tip jar" out on the book table in April. (Not sure if any others out there subscribe to's Poem-A-Day series, but I do, and it's fantastic-- I find out about new writers via that service and I rediscover the oldie/goodies through it as well.) Anyway, if you can drop a dollar in the jar in April, great! If not, don't worry about it. I just thought it might be nice to donate something to the site, considering how much I've enjoyed their resources lately (and I've watched my students enjoy it too). I'll just donate 100% of whatever falls into the jar that night!

Also, remember that I'm taking the month of May off for travel, and we'll be seeing each other after April's reading in June!

Have a great week, everyone.

CSWRS Coordinator

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


As we draw closer to the end of February, I consider how the reading series has become a regular reminder of community in Colorado Springs-- among writers, readers, and lovers of literature. This series will hit its one year anniversary in April; since the first reading, I have never left one event without feeling recharged, refreshed, and thrilled to see the energy within local writers.

Juan Morales gave us another welcome jumpstart last Friday when he read from his collection of poetry, Friday and the Year that Followed. His book sold out after the reading (don't worry, I'll have a couple more copies for sale at the March event), and his poems confirmed what has been said of his writing style before: that it dwells simultaneously in myth, magic, the violence of war and the love of family. The audience was captivated.

(Juan Morales + the front rows of Friday's audience)

This wasn't the only great part of Juan's reading; we also had a stellar Open Mic line-up, with new and regular readers, including local student writers. Here are some new blog/website addresses to add to your list of bookmarked sites:

Julianza, Inkling:
Dan Gardner:
(both of these authors will have work for sale on the book table)

Remember that our events are always held on the third Friday of the month, and our next reading will be March 18th, 7:30pm, at Black Cat Books. Bring a friend. Spread the word. Our featured reader will be Juliana Aragon Fatula, author of Crazy Chicana in Catholic City, a collection of poems published by Ghost Road in 2009.

See you then!



CSWRS Coordinator

Monday, February 14, 2011


This Friday, February 18th, poet Juan Morales from CSU-Pueblo will be our featured reader at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs. Here's an excerpt from Juan's website, just to give you some info about his background:

Juan J. Morales was born in the U.S. to an Ecuadorian mother and a Puerto Rican father. He grew up hearing family stories that inspired much of the poems in Friday and the Year that Followed, his first collection of poetry, which was chosen by Vern Rutsala for the 2005 Rhea and Seymour Gorsline Poetry Competition and published by Bedbug Press. Juan received his MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2005. His poetry has also appeared inAcentos Review, Blue Mesa Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Many Mountains Moving, Palabra (forthcoming), Poet Lore, War, Literature, & the Arts, and other journals. He is the Director of Creative Writing as an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he curates the Southern Colorado Reading Series and the student literary magazine Tempered Steel, formerly The Hungry Eye. Currently, Juan is working on his second collection of poems.

I hope to see, as usual, a vibrant crowd of writers and readers. Remember, the Open Mic session gets started first thing, and there's only room for ten readers! Get there a little early if you have a prepared poem or excerpt to read, and I'll see you then!

Abby E. Murray
CSWRS Coordinator

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Well, it's taken me almost a week, but I'm finally getting around to telling everyone how delightful last Friday's reading with Lynn Wagner was. Not only did Lynn make us laugh with her take on an ex-lover coming back as a dog, she opened up several of her poems from the book No Blues This Raucous Song. (I'm still partial to "Neruda", which I think embodies some of Lynn's richest language. Find it on her website here.)

(a shot of Lynn and I with each other's books)

Before Lynn's reading, we had a full sign up of Open Mic readers, each filling up the 3-5 minute slots with a dazzling array of stories and poems.

(a shot of Janele Johnson, instructor at Pikes Peak Community College,
reading poetry during the Open Mic session.)

There were some blog addresses left on the update sheet, and I'm including their addresses below. (One is Tom Preble's website; the other is Marie Ostarello's. Both have extensive publication backgrounds, and I recommend checking out their stuff!) If you have a writing blog you'd like to get on this site, be sure to leave the address at the next CSWRS event.

Tom Preble:
Marie Ostarello:

Remember, next month's featured reader is Juan Morales, the head of CSU-Pueblo's Creative Writing program. He'll be reading on Friday evening, February 18th, at 7:30pm in the downstairs area of Black Cat Books in Manitou. If you'd like to participate in the Open Mic beforehand, be sure to get there a little early to sign up-- ten readers maximum-- and have your work timed to no more than five minutes, tops.

Thank you all for a fantastic evening!

CSWRS Coordinator

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Join us on Friday, January 21st (7:30pm) at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs for a reading with Lynn Wagner, author of the chapbook No Blues This Raucous Song. Lynn will be traveling from Denver to feature her work at this month's event, and I can't wait to hear it!

Remember that each event kicks off with an Open Mic session, and some tips for Open Mic presentation have been posted on this blog! If you'll be attending for the first time this month and aren't sure about reading yet, pick up one of the write-ups from the book table and take a look at what an Open Mic entails.

See everyone on the 18th!

CSWRS Coordinator