Youth Programming

Writers in the Schools is an educational outreach program that brings accomplished professional writers to public schools in the greater Roaring Fork Valley, from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. These writers interact with students in class, at all-school assemblies, and in connection with extra-curricular activities. The goals of this collaborative program are:

  • To broaden and enrich the literary landscapes of entire school communities: students, teachers, administrators, and parents.
  • To demonstrate the power of language and storytelling to develop empathy and understanding.
  • To augment and enhance the existing language arts and social studies curricula.
  • To expose students to active contemporary writers, for inspiration, mentorship, and as positive role models.
  • To bring the written and spoken arts alive for students.

TESTIMONIALS

“This project [Poets in the Schools] has been an ongoing inspiration to the students at Yampah [Mountain High School]. The excitement has generated a dedicated slam poetry class that runs all year with great attendance. Having the poets come to town adds an element of excitement and continues to generate a great deal of interest among the new students.”

– Kether Axelrod, Yampah Mounatin High School teacher

“Even though we didn’t really know anyone else in the room, it was a comfortable enough environment to want to share what I wrote. I put a lot of emotion into my poem, and even though I never thought I would share it, I ended up feeling a lot better after I did. There was a lot of encouragement.”

– Yaqui Arreola, Glenwood Springs High School student

“Even though we didn’t really know anyone else in the room, it was a comfortable enough environment to want to share what I wrote. I put a lot of emotion into my poem, and even though I never thought I would share it, I ended up feeling a lot better after I did. There was a lot of encouragement.”

– Yaqui Arreola, Glenwood Springs High School student

“Myrlin [Hepworth] was good at getting us to open up about deep things because he opened up to us first. Because he showed courage, he inspired us to be brave.”

– Coral, Roaring Fork High School student

“Myrlin [Hepworth] was good at getting us to open up about deep things because he opened up to us first. Because he showed courage, he inspired us to be brave.”

– Coral, Roaring Fork High School student

“THANK YOU for bringing Bruce Machart to our school — he was incredible. The kids loved him! And I love his writing and can’t wait to get my hands on his book.”

– Krystal Wu, Roaring Fork High School teacher

“THANK YOU for bringing Bruce Machart to our school — he was incredible. The kids loved him! And I love his writing and can’t wait to get my hands on his book.”

– Krystal Wu, Roaring Fork High School teacher

“Aspen High School has been privileged to work with Aspen Words for many years. We have particularly benefited from the Writers in the Schools program. World famous authors come to our classrooms and discuss their work, their individual writing processes, and how they came to be writers; in addition, some writers have also led writing workshops. By giving our students an opportunity to have authentic and meaningful experiences with these authors, AW helps us create a community of readers and writers. We love this addition to our curriculum and look forward to welcoming more authors into our classrooms.”

– Sarah Strassburger, Aspen High School teacher

“Aspen High School has been privileged to work with Aspen Words for many years. We have particularly benefited from the Writers in the Schools program. World famous authors come to our classrooms and discuss their work, their individual writing processes, and how they came to be writers; in addition, some writers have also led writing workshops. By giving our students an opportunity to have authentic and meaningful experiences with these authors, AW helps us create a community of readers and writers. We love this addition to our curriculum and look forward to welcoming more authors into our classrooms.”

– Sarah Strassburger, Aspen High School teacher

“Students in middle school either love or hate poetry. These poets work magic! Students leave the workshops and assembly feeling more positively about poetry because they discover that there is no right or wrong way to write poems. As a language arts teacher, it is always nice to have another voice/style teaching kids about poetry.”

– Brittany Bergin-Foss, Carbondale Middle School teacher

“Students in middle school either love or hate poetry. These poets work magic! Students leave the workshops and assembly feeling more positively about poetry because they discover that there is no right or wrong way to write poems. As a language arts teacher, it is always nice to have another voice/style teaching kids about poetry.”

– Brittany Bergin-Foss, Carbondale Middle School teacher

“Ann Patchett’s visit to the classroom inspired me because she is doing what she is passionate about. As a musician, I often find the thought daunting that most cannot make a living by making music alone, but Ann made me want to continue pursuing my art even if it never brings me fame or fortune. Most of all, she reminded me that the pleasure in life is in ‘the doing’ rather than the rewards you might reap from the final product. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to meet a woman who reached out to my class as a writer, an artist and as a human being.”

– Dayle Dunan , Basalt High School student

Poetry Project at RFV Middle Schools

Aspen Words brought renowned teaching artists and performance poets Natasha Carrizosa, Logan Phillips and Joaquín Zihuatanejo into every English Language Arts classroom at Aspen Middle School, from October 9-13. Aspen Middle School students performed their work at an all-school assembly and at an evening poetry showcase for family and friends on October 19 at Aspen High School’s Black Box Theater. 

The program also include a week of poetry workshops led by Carrizosa, Phillips and Zihuatanejo for every student at Basalt Middle School, from November 13-17. Basalt Middle School students showcased their original work at an in-school assembly on Friday, November 17.  

About the Teaching Artists

Natasha Carrizosa is a vessel of the word – poet, writer, speaker, and creative writing teacher. Her grounding work is deeply-rooted in her BIPOC living experiences, mindfulness and truths. She is the author of “mexiafricana,” “heavy light,” and “crown.” Her work has also been published in Manteca! – an anthology of Afro-Latino poets, CONTRA: Texas Poets Speak Out, The Ascentos Review, Learn Then Burn 2, defunkt magazine, cutthroat magazine, raising mothers, and R2: The Rice Review. She has collaborated with Aspen Challenge, Aspen Youth Leadership Forum, Aspen Words, Bezos Scholars, Write About Now, Public Poetry, Tintero Projects, WITS (Writers in the Schools) and Poets & Writers. She is a Coolspeaker (youth engagement company.)

Logan Phillips, poet, is author of “Sonoran Strange” (West End Press / University of New Mexico Press, 2015) which was selected as a Southwest Book of the Year by the region’s librarians. A serial collaborator, Phillips has worked on a wide range of performance, music and community education projects in the US, Mexico and beyond. He holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he lives with his family.

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is an award-winning teacher who received his MFA in creative writing with a concentration in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has been featured in Prairie Schooner, Sonora Review, and Huizache among other journals and anthologies. His poetry has been featured on HBO, NBC, and on NPR in Historias and The National Teachers’ Initiative. He was the winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. His book, “Arsonist,” was published by Anhinga Press in 2018 and was short-listed as a finalist for both the Writers’ League of Texas Best Book Poetry Prize and the International Latino Book Award Best Book Poetry Prize. Joaquín’s book, “Dollars for Scholars,” which moved Joaquín from the world of poetry to the world of nonfiction for the first time, provides insight and inspiration to underserved students, giving them a wealth of information on the scholarship process and advice that can help them with their transition from high school senior to college freshman. Joaquín has offered readings of his work or facilitated creative writing workshops in 49 of the 50 states and 16 different countries. Joaquín is currently working on two poetry manuscripts and a quasi-autobiographical novel for young adults about a homeless teenager who finds refuge in a world of poems. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his partner Aída and poetry, always in that order.

Poetry Project at Bridges High School

For six weeks in January and February teaching artist Jose “Jozer” Guerrero will led a long-format, intensive poetry and spoken word course. These once weekly workshops will promote students’ self-expression, introduce them to different types of poetry and spoken word, and encourage them to generate their own collection of work by the conclusion of the program.

About the Teaching Artist

Jose “Jozer” Guerrero is a spoken word poet, stage and screen actor, and member of Chicano Funk band Los Mocochetes. He is inspired by his students’ strength, compassion, determination, and willingness to change. He has been featured on HBO, Univision, PBS, and American Theater Magazine. Guerrero is also a three-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist.

Aspen Middle School Fall 2022 Poetry Project

With support from the Aspen Education Foundation, Aspen Words brought renowned teaching artists and performance poets, Natasha Carrizosa, Logan Phillips and Joaquín Zihuatanejo, into every English Language Arts (ELA) classroom at Aspen Middle School. The artists led workshops focused on written and spoken word poetry. The program concluded with a showcase where students performed their original work.

The community was also invited to a Spoken Word Poetry Showcase at Marble Bar in Aspen where Natasha, Logan and Joaquin performed their original work.

Writers in the Schools

Aspen Words brings published authors to public schools in the greater Roaring Fork Valley in conjunction with its Writers in Residence and Winter Words programs. The participating authors visit high school and middle school classrooms, providing students with inspiration and mentorship. Past authors who have participated in this program include Juan Felipe Herrera, Ishmael Beah, Geraldine Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Ann Patchett, Luis Urrea, Ruth Ozeki, Richard Blanco, Cheryl Strayed, Ruth Ozeki, and many others.

Sandra Cisneros at Basalt High School

Juan Felipe Herrera at Glenwood Springs High School

Luis Urrea at Glenwood Springs High School