Tag Archives: Mary Ellen Sanger

đź‘» CAMpire đź‘», from the Colorado State University Facebook page

  • An essay of Dan Beachy-Quick’s, “Even,” about Marcel Duchamp and the underworld, won the 2017 Zone 3 price in nonfiction.
  • On October 20th, Kelly Bradbury served on the Editorial Roundtable at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder. She also attended the TYCA-SW Conference in Loveland last week.
  • Matthew Cooperman has an essay on craft, “Day and Night: Time and Writing” up at the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter http://ottawapoetry.blogspot.com/2017/10/on-writing-141-matthew-cooperman.html . There’s a new review of Spool up at the new issue of Free Verse, as well, which also contains poetry by Dan Beachy-Quick. https://english.chass.ncsu.edu/freeverse/Archives/2017/reviews/McKinney_Cooperman.html
  • Sue Doe participated in the Community Writing Conference in Boulder, presenting alongside former Rhet/Comp grad students Lydia Page, Sarah Austin, and Vani Kannan. The title of their session was “Sustaining Performative Interventions in Academic Labor: Theory and Practice.”
  • Tobi Jacobi and Mary Ellen Sanger presented “SpeakOut! Writers on Self-Publication: Reflections from Community Writing” and Michelle Curry presented “Dignifying Quieted Voices: The Role of Self-Publication in Community Writing from Jail” as part of a panel on self-publishing at the Conference on Community Writing on October 21, 2017.



ForkSocket will have a reading on Friday, November 3 @ 7:30 p.m. in the Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House (316 Willow St.). Readers include Margaret Browne, Evan Senie, and Ally Eden.

Student Writing Group 

Do you have writing that needs to be workshopped by fellow writers? Do you want an informal environment of people who can help? My name is Kenna Castleberry, and I may be able to help you out. I’m hoping to start a student writing group (no more than 7 people) to meet up once a week or so and swap and discuss our writing. I’m flexible on timing as well as genres. If you have some work that needs to be workshopped, please contact me via email: kcastle@rams.colostate.edu. Thanks, fellow wordsmiths!


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  • Dan Beachy-Quick has a group of essays from A Quiet Book in the new Copper Nickel.
  • On Saturday February 25th, Camille Dungy will be the Keynote Speaker at the Robinson Jeffers Society Annual Meeting at Occidental College. Her talk is titled: “The View From Hawk Tower Today: A Contemporary Environmental Poet Reflects on What Robinson Jeffers Has Meant to Her.” https://www.oxy.edu/oxy-arts/projects-exhibitions/visiting-artists
  • The opening reception for the CSU Art and Science exhibition is this coming Tuesday, Feb 21 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Curfman gallery in the Lory Student Center. Beth Lechleitner’s collaborative poetry/visual art piece “Mettle” has been is included.  The show runs through March 24.
  • Dana Masden’s short story “Exercise, A Good Book, and a Cup of Tea” is published in the Fall 2016 issue of Third Coast.
  • Mary Ellen Sanger (Associate Director, Community Literacy Center) won second place in the North Street Book Prize contest for her book, “Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison.” This account of her unjust imprisonment in Mexico centers on stories of solidarity and community with the women she met inside. https://winningwriters.com/past-winning-entries/blackbirds-in-the-pomegranate-tree
  • Alex Morrison’s short story, “Life Along the Fault Line,” is available in print in the Winter 2017 issue of The Cardiff Review. 
  • Catie Young’s poem “Hollow Bone” was recently published by Public Pool. You can read it here: http://www.publicpool.org/dope/cl-young/
  • Aby Kaupang was recently asked by the Lincoln Center and the Fort Collins Museum of Art to participate in the Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate exhibit by writing poems and reading them at the opening reception. Her poems can be found mounted in the lobby at FoCoMoA or online through Essay Press’ Radio Radio 11.8.16.
  • Steven Schwartz’s story “The Bad Guest” has been accepted by Ploughshares and will appear in the Winter 2017/18 issue.

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Happy New Year!

  • Dan Beachy-Quick has a set of poems and set of essays nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
  • Roze Hentschell, currently serving as Interim Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts, emceeed the College of Liberal Arts Fall commencement, Saturday December 17th at 5:00 p.m. If you couldn’t be there in person, check out the webcast archives and watch our wonderful graduates receive their diplomas: http://commencement.colostate.edu/webcast-archives/
  • Congratulations to the 2016-17 CLC interns, Dominique Garnett, Alina Lugo, Sarah Von Nostrand, and Shelley Curry and Associate director, Mary Ellen Sanger on successfully designing and facilitating six SpeakOut writing workshops. Three evening journal launch parties were held. Watch for the winter copy in January.
  • Tobi Jacobi’s essay on curating community writing and social action in jail appears in the forthcoming issue of the Community Literacy Journal.
  • Bill Tremblay has a poem entitled “November 9, 2016,” coming out in the next issue of TRUCK magazine.
  • Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s “Song of Rachel” has been accepted for publication at The Molotov Cocktail.

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The CSU Community Literacy Center (CLC) helps create alternative literacy opportunities that work to educate and empower underserved populations, and foment university-community literacy collaboration.  Through the SpeakOut! writing workshops, the CLC confronts stereotypes of at-risk youth and incarcerated women and men, circulating the stories and creative work of community writers through print and multi-media publications, believing that these dynamic literacy activities are key to individual success, cultural awareness and a more socially just world.

Tenth Anniversary of SpeakOut!

For ten years, the Speak Out! Writing workshops have allowed writers to explore who and where they are in their lives through creative expression. The primary philosophy of this program is that every person has a story to tell; each has words that are valuable and necessary.

SpeakOut! Writing Workshops for adults take place at the Larimer County Detention Center with separate programs for men and women, and Community Corrections and Work Release for women transitioning back.  At-risk youth participate in programs from Turning Point, Matthews House and Remington House. SpeakOut! won the “Program of the Year” award at the recent Larimer County Jail volunteer awards banquet.


In weekly workshop sessions, facilitators seek to present a range of approaches and techniques for engaging in writing. Each session involves the presentation of contemporary writing techniques and tools, giving participants the opportunity to apply the concepts discussed to their own lives through guided writing exercises. Writers respond to prompts on issues central to their lives, including confinement, freedom, family, pain, anger, beauty, love, life, place, and home. Participants are then invited to read their work aloud and give/receive feedback.

The writing that results from the workshop is compiled in a bi-annual journal, which is circulated at no charge. Public readings are held at the end of each semester, where community members can hear, in their own voices, the issues prisoners and at-risk youth face, providing an opportunity to counter negative stereotypes regarding incarcerated people and individuals in treatment programs, and hopefully create a society less hostile to prisoner re-entry.


Writing is… in the voice of SpeakOut! writers

Writing is hard, confounding, helpful, hopeful, hideous.
Writing is my mind doing jumping jacks while my heart takes pulse.
Writing is a way to free your mind. Writing is my world when I am so confined.
Writing is a way of expressing one’s self, showing emotions, making people laugh…making people understand.
Writing is a never easy process until you’ve learned at SpeakOut!
Writing is bearing witness to those whose voices have been silenced.
Writing is the voices of those that I have been and those that I am.
Writing is alive.  It is a universe where the pen is exploration and exploration is endless.
Writing is diving into the soul while breathing out the cosmos.
Writing is a way to get feelings, ideas, songs, and poems expressed.  Then, we can share them or not!  But at least they’re not burning idly inside of us.
Writing is a way to thing about and reflect back on past experiences—good or bad.  Writing can help channel emotions you thought couldn’t be tamed.
Writing is freedom, joy, and happiness.

What’s Happening Now

This year SpeakOut! is ten years old. Look for a ten-year retrospective of the community voices that have collected in their volumes over the past ten years, and special events to mark the beginning of their next decade.

The CLC has a record number of workshops and volunteers excited to work at the Larimer County Detention Center, Community Corrections and Work Release for adult women and men, and Turning Point, Matthews House, and Remington House residential treatment centers for youth.

Through the interns who have chosen to work with this program (graduate students in the English and Sociology Departments this year), the CLC continues to develop new ideas for workshops, support research in the field by co-authoring academic papers and create new ideas for grant funding.

CLC Intern Lily Alpers

CLC Intern Lily Alpers

CLC Intern Kate Miller

CLC Intern Kate Miller

CLC Intern Cara Ramsay

CLC Intern Cara Ramsay

CLC Intern Sarah Rossi

CLC Intern Sarah Rossi

CLC Intern Larissa Willkomm

CLC Intern Larissa Willkomm

On the CLC blog you can get to know CLC facilitators and read their reflections on their work within the community through their blogs.

The CLC is back in Eddy Hall, in a newly refurbished space.


The CLC has a new Associate Director, Mary Ellen Sanger. Learn more about her in this recently published profile on the blog.


CLC Associate Director Mary Ellen Sanger

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Mary Ellen Sanger
Associate Director Community Literacy Center


What brought you to CSU?

Since moving to Fort Collins two years ago (for love), I have volunteered at CSU: with the Community Literacy Center leading writing workshops at Larimer County Detention Center, and with Mary Ontiveros and the Diversity team on a project they had in hand at that time.

What is the Community Literacy Center (CLC)? What is it doing that we should know about?

This year the CLC celebrates ten years of promoting literacy through SpeakOut! writing workshops, enhancing opportunities for creative expression for confined populations and at-risk youth. From its inception in 2005 when SpeakOut! consisted of a single workshop for the women in the Larimer County Detention Center (LCDC), this year we expand to six – maybe even seven – workshops at the LCDC for men and women, Community Corrections for women, and Turning Point, Matthews House and Remington House for young men and women. These workshops promote community action and social change, culminating at the end of each semester in a creative journal compiling the voices of writers who have participated in the program. Please stop by the CLC office – we would love to share a journal with you! The voices are surprising and clear and need to be heard.


What is your current role at the CLC?

As the (first ever) Associate Director of the center, and after two years as a volunteer workshop facilitator, I assist Tobi Jacobi in the administration of the program and mentoring and guiding volunteers and interns.

What does your typical day of work there look like?

Thankfully I haven’t experienced anything typical about my days yet. One day I will be meeting with the six inspiring interns who chose to enrich their university experience through learning to facilitate creative spaces with SpeakOut!, another I will be polishing several grants we are putting in place to help fund our anniversary activities, or hanging a solidarity poster in our refurbished office, making appointments to get to know the contacts at our workshop sites, or devising a new spreadsheet to record attendance statistics. It’s a great position for me, where I get to use a lifetime of career experience in one small but powerful office.

What is one of your favorite things about the CLC?

The CLC provides safe spaces for expression for so many whose voices may not otherwise be heard – important for the writers and for the listening community as barriers blur and diverse groups come together. That this work is facilitated by energetic, curious and visionary interns (and volunteers) is one of my favorite things. They invest their time, intellect and hearts in facilitating important spaces for literacy, writers develop and share their voices, and the model moves forward as interns carry the experience into their post-workshop life, enriched and enriching.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I like knowing that some of what I do may make a difference in how someone experiences the world and their space in it.

What special project are you working on right now?

The CLC is working on activities around our tenth anniversary. Depending on funding, we are planning a ten-year retrospective publication, with material compiled from the journals published each semester containing writing from all the programs, and one or more special activities that can celebrate the reach of the program and as importantly, its future.


Why are the Humanities important?

Long ago I was a science and mathematics nerd, who just happened to read and write a lot. I tripped over foreign languages (particularly Spanish) and appreciated the doors that opened as I rubbed up against a broader range of human experience.

That is a great part of the strength of the Humanities – with a base in Humanities, we are able to contemplate our role as intellectual, moral and spiritual members of society, grapple with social justice issues, imagine and express a better future.

What had the greatest influence on your career path?

My “path” was a meandering one. I moved from publishing with Academic Press in San Diego in the 80s, to tourism in Mexico in the 90s and 00s, to nonprofit administration in NYC during the past ten years. I think that the experience of living in a country where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line (that, plus advancing age) has instructed me to devote my time to matters that matter, and not to a stranger’s bottom line.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a doctor. Until I realized I had to dissect cats in college. Nope.

What or who inspires you?

Solidarity inspires me. Yes, definitely solidarity.

What accomplishments are you the most proud of?

I was in jail in Mexico. That’s not the thing I’m proud of. After 17 years living and working there, I was falsely accused and imprisoned for 33 days. I wrote a book about the experience, and while I am proud of having written the book, I am more proud that those who have read it, close the cover and say – “what an amazing community of women you met inside!” I am proud to have been able to bring something of their voices home with me, and release their solidarity into the world.

What book or reading experience had the biggest impact on you?

We just lost one of my favorite writers earlier this year. Eduardo Galeano, from Uruguay, who wrote: “We are all mortal until our first kiss and our second glass of wine.”

What are you currently reading, writing?

Currently reading: Lucia Berlin short stories – “A Manual for Cleaning Women”

Currently writing: in my head, the next great Mexican-American novel. On paper, poem-esque scribbles with the women of Community Corrections.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

Every spring I grow a whole garden from seed. I can’t survive without that miracle. When the garden fades in fall/winter, I make altered-photo transfer prints of the blooms. I pet two rescue cats throughout.

What’s one thing you dream of being able to accomplish in your time at Colorado State University?

I dream of unearthing hearty, steady, earnest funders who understand the importance of keeping alternative literacy spaces vibrant and growing.


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  • The SpeakOut! writing program won the “Program of the Year” award last night at the Larimer County Jail volunteer awards banquet.  Congrats to the facilitators and writers!
  • Two of Dan Beachy-Quick’s  essays, “Heraclitean Thirst” and “Circles” are featured at the online journal Fogged Clarity: http://foggedclarity.com
  • Doug Cloud presented a paper titled “Coming Out Queer, Coming Out Atheist: Building Rhetorical Infrastructures for Marginalized Speakers” at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder on October 14.
  • Next week, Doug Cloud will be leading a workshop on talking about difference in public and professional contexts for the oSTEM chapter at Colorado State University. oSTEM, which stands for “Out in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics,” aims to “identify, address, and advocate for the needs of LGBTQA students in the STEM fields.” The workshop will take place in Eddy 100 at 6:00PM on Wednesday, November 11.
  • Sue Doe presented at the recent, national Community Writing Conference in Boulder where she and former graduate students Vani Kannan, Lydia Page, and Sarah Austin presented a panel entitled “Conversations on Labor: Report on a Cross-Campus/Regional Organizing Approach Using Participatory  Theatre.”  In their presentation, Sue and her colleagues engaged in participatory methods during the panel itself, querying traditional panel models and demonstrating how engagement works for not only social justice efforts and community engagement but also for enlivening and deepening the meaning of conference presentations themselves.
  • Tobi Jacobi presented an interactive workshop focused on remixing archival documents from the 1920s NY Training School for Girls with contemporary justice reform efforts at the 10th biannual Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference in Tempe, AZ on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
  • EJ Levy’s short story “I, Spy” has been accepted for publication by The Missouri Review, where it will appear next spring.
  • EJ Levy also spoke at the NonfictionNow conference in Flagstaff, AZ, last week on the subject of women’s bodies, sex, and sexuality in writing nonfiction.
  • Mary Ellen Sanger, Tobi Jacobi and the Community Literacy Center are pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded a $1500 engaged scholarship grant from Campus Compact of the Mountain West.  The award will support an assessment project for the SpeakOut! writing workshops in Spring 2016.
  • Eleven of our English department faculty members will be working at this year’s Senior Scholarship Day on Saturday, November 14, 2015, 9:00-4:00 PM: Dan Beachy-Quick, Pam Coke, Ashley Davies, Katie Hoffman, Kathryn Hulings, Tobi Jacobi, Ed Lessor, Tatiana Nekrasova Beker, Sarah Louise Pieplow, Jeremy Proctor, and Lynn Shutters.  This committee has been developing writing prompts for a writing workshop and a writing competition for high-achieving Colorado high school seniors.  Thanks to all of them for their hard work!
  • Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub is leading two final workshops before the end of the year at Om Ananda Yoga. “Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom: Yoga, Meditation, and Writing” on Saturday, November 28th, 1:30 – 5:30 pm, and “Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom: Meditation and Writing” on Sunday, December 6th, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. You can find out more about these workshops and preregister at http://omanandayoga.com/. She also teaches a weekly Hatha Yoga class at Om Ananda Yoga every Tuesday at 7 am and would love to see you there.
  • Meghan Pipe first-year MFA student (fiction) was awarded a residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in May 2016.
  • Garrett Marquez (English Education, Class of 2015) is working as a special education teacher at Alamosa High School.

Upcoming Events


Please join us Thursday November 12, 7:00 pm for the second (and final) colloquium of the semester as we gather, with fine appetizers and drinks in hand, to enjoy one another’s company and hear about the work that our colleagues are doing. All department faculty and graduate students are invited.

Here’s a preview of the evening:

Drawing from an on-going scholarly webtext that is under production, Tim Amidon will share a variety of genre ecology maps and visualizations that have been created using D3 (a data visualization program). By leveraging these digital tools, Tim suggests, digital humanists might render visible the textual assemblages that are instantiated through and circulate amidst sites of production. He will discuss ways that such modeling and visualization might be leveraged pedagogically to not only support literacy learning but also to critique and reconstruct systems supported by discursive activity.

Zach Hutchins is the founder and editor in chief of TEAMS, a scholarly collective dedicated to transcribing the unread manuscript sermons of colonial and antebellum America. Those transcriptions are then coded and housed in a searchable database. Searching even the small collection of sermons currently transcribed and published by TEAMS suggests that opening up access to these texts will challenge foundational beliefs about the religious beliefs and experiences of the individuals who laid the groundwork for revolution and the new republic.

Jaime Jordan will discuss how she has used the podcast Serial in her comp class as an example of digital rhetoric and share some introductory research she’s done on the podcast as well as literary research using textual-analysis tools.

If you missed the last gathering, you really owe it to yourself to come to this one! A good time will be had by all.


NCTE Presents:  Standards-based Grading
November 12th, 2015, Eddy 5

Join NCTE@CSU for a discussion on Standard-based grading. We will be joined by local teachers to lead the conversation and end the evening with time for questions. As always, there will be free food and drinks.

Another exciting addition to the November meeting will be the officer elections. The positions of treasurer and secretary will be open.  If you are interested in running, please email an intent to run and statement as to why you are qualified for the position to both: pamela.coke@colostate.edu and ncte@colostate.edu by November 10th.

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