Place to gather, improve community at writers’ forum

The Western Colorado Writers’ Forum is reinventing itself with a permanent home, an expanded board and plans to reinvigorate its membership.

The forum, with a mission to “foster a dynamic literary and writing community that advances the cultural life of Western Colorado,” was founded four years ago by author Sandy Dorr, who resigned in December to spend more time on other projects.

Board members will run the organization without a director for the time being, said board chairwoman Mindy Rice.

The forum this month moved into its first permanent home, at 740 Gunnison Ave., in the Center for Independence building. For $100 a month, the forum will maintain an office on the second floor with access to a solarium and multipurpose room.

Rice and board vice-chairwoman Linda Skinner were busy setting up an office in the new space this week. The solarium is bright and welcoming, with plenty of room for board meetings and smaller workshops. The multipurpose room can house larger events, saving the forum money on renting facilities. A permanent home also allows the forum to be more of a gathering point.

“Now that we have a space, our thought is to have a writers room,” Skinner said, where members can come write, utilizing the free wi-fi and mentor with other writers, if desired.

The forum also wants to reach out to other writing groups, book clubs and related organizations and serve as a clearinghouse of information for anyone who loves the written word.

All this is building on the already successful programs the forum has established, including:

■ Hosting a biennial regional writing conference. In 2013, the theme of the conference was “The Language of the Fantastic.” The two-day conference included fiction and nonfiction workshops with Rick Bass and Melissa Pritchard, science fiction and fantasy workshops with Daniel Abraham and Jim Van Pelt, and poetry workshops with David Rothman, Janice Gould, Luis Lopez and Bella Clara Ventura.

■ Bringing in acclaimed authors for periodic workshops.

■ Staffing the Writers in the Schools program, which is co-sponsored by Colorado Humanities. More than a thousand students in nine schools have participated in the program in the past three years.

■ Starting the Poetry in the Streets program, with poetry published weekly in Out & About in The Daily Sentinel, read daily on KAFM radio and displayed around the city.

■ Facilitating writing workshops for underserved communities such as the homeless, incarcerated teens at the Department of Youth Corrections (DYC), women at Latimer House and veterans.

Skinner said the forum continues to seek grant funding for these and other programs. For instance, she recently turned in a grant request through the City of Grand Junction Commission on Arts & Culture to fund guest-artist workshops.

When looking to move the forum in new directions, Skinner cited the advice of poet and professor David Rothman: “You want to make the community that you want to be part of.”

The forum’s first event of the year will be a March 14 reading and publishing session on the “page to print” process by author Lyn Fraser at the forum’s new location, 740 Gunnison Ave.

Fraser’s newest book is a mystery novel, “Debits & Credits.” The publishing session starts at 6 p.m., with reading and networking from 7–9. Cost is free to forum members and $10 for nonmembers.

Membership in Western Colorado Writers’ Forum starts at $25 for seniors and students. To find out about the forum, go to westerncoloradowriters.org or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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