Craig Poets Society

Group provides platform for local lyricists

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Moffat County's open spaces provide the ideal breeding ground for folks like David Morris, who process outdoor experience through the written word and wish to cultivate their poetic side.

"When I moved here, I really started to explore the remote country," Morris said. "You can't beat it for a place to go hunting for poems."

A self-proclaimed "desert rat," Morris has spent years penning detailed landscape observations in his environmental-based poems, which he has collected in his "Feral Country" anthology, published this week by Outskirts Press.

Morris is not alone in his passion.

Aspiring poets such as Ray Trauffer also seek to understand the natural world through lyric verse.

"I wrote my first verse in 1970 after a great experience I had one time cross-country skiing alone in the woods," Trauffer said.

While Trauffer has not written in 20 years, Morris proudly pursues his craft any chance he can. A small support network helps and encourages Morris with his writing.

Morris credits Al Romano for pioneering a poetry collective in Craig out of his T.U.B.S. -- The Used Books Store -- shop on the corner of Fourth and Rose Streets.

"Al was a plumber that worked hard to support his family," Morris said. "He had a used-book store. The nicest guy, he never made money, (and) sometimes, he just gave books away. He was really the catalyst that got the group going 12 or 13 years ago."

Although the book store is now closed, and Romano has moved away, Cheryl Miller holds together the core Craig Poetry Group members. Morris and other members meet regularly.

Colorado Northwestern Community College humanities instructor Jane Yazzie is one of those original members who can't say enough about Romano's impact on Craig's poet community.

"He served as president of the Poetry Society of Colorado, he voluntarily taught poetry lessons at all the elementary schools," Yazzie said. "He quietly was a total volunteer and a pioneer for us."

Carol Jacobson now hosts the Craig Poetry Group every month at The Bookstore inside Serendipity Coffee Shop, 576 Yampa Ave.

"If people know, then they would realize that there is a venue," Jacobson said. "I want people to write it all down. People have wonderful, valuable and important stories. I want to create an environment where people can feel free to express, to write it down, learn about writing and play with words."

Jacobson's devotion to shared poetic growth also drives her high school poetry workshop, which she teaches Wednesday afternoons at The Bookstore.

"You get to share your work, you can hear what people like and don't like," freshman Sarah Kirk said of the small after-school group. "You can get ideas, get creative with it. Certain people have different styles, and you can work off of them."

"It seems like there's a lot of poets here, but people just don't like to make it known," senior April Rubley added.

Perhaps more aspiring poets would develop their interests if they knew that a group of like-minded individuals existed to listen, support and constructively critique.

"The Craig Poetry Group is good and quite helpful," said Joyce Phillips, one of the group's original members. "Carol's really knowledgeable ... David Morris inspires me to try harder ... Al Romano was the first to really encourage me to enter contests, and over the last five or six years, I won a couple of second-place prizes and an honorable mention."

"People just need to come to the meetings.

"You've got to find an audience, and this is a safe audience," Morris said.

The Craig Poetry Group meets at 4 p.m. Monday at The Bookstore in Serendipity. Call Cheryl Miller for more information at 824-3990.

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