La Junta Writers and Artists

Description: Three Phantasmagoria and The Secret Bird Digital Donnie Hollingsworth

La Junta Writers and Artists

Last year I was able to form a creative group with the help of Total Health. For a town this size, there are tons of helpful people, from the local librarians to the Barista. Our group was based on the idea of trying to corral all the creative people into one place, no matter the medium.

In October I was in NY speaking to Phong, the head of Brooklyn Rail. Creative workshops were on every level and everyone was generous with their time. I left with the certitude that art is important.  

I knew that I had to carry this feeling, the fact and reality that art is important back to La Junta. Let me say that again: art is Important.

Poetry is the art of meaning what you say

-Richard Hugo

There’s an air of the mysticism--a mystique--and sharing this mystique with your neighbors through spoken word to an audience of your peers helps to form a narrative for ourselves...for the town. Stories are crucial. We’re shaped by our self-narratives, by our story of the world and our place in it.

All knowledge is storytelling.

At Total Health I met Rowena Portch, a local multi-award winning author, writer of the Spririan saga among other titles. She networked in La Junta until all the writers came to one place. Elizabeth, a playwright and director of over 20 plays, is also part of our group (there’s a large undercurrent of theatrical drama here). We met regularly at the library and Barista until the pandemic, but still continue through Zoom meetings and gazebo gatherings. We workshop, edit, talk about publishing (I’ve been publishing poems for 20 years), and work with prompts.

For example, this poem was written with a spring prompt in mind:


Nature's Mordant Que


(to kamikaze into desire

the honied nectar

hiding inside like animals

(I tear open heartily voiceless

past the lone bent Cottonwood and blasted rock


by the steady stare of the sun


mordant fingers pinches

off (the mesa before us: blood-dried brown and burnt umber all around us

by edges of wind

off into worlds of mineral


and air stroking into the next

seamless: ocean drinking into ocean (noticing how a rattlesnake

uses the shadow of a horse's hoof print for an entrance)


I’m in the act

of arching (the windy field

walks up to the edge of me)

in the exhaust

disappearing like a tongue into wine

I have a blueish soul

like a bed of water (I long to become a vision of the flood

the sound of a red-winged black bird      brimming from

thorn and nettle-sided first before flowering the pinprick: the flash of birth




under the horizon ready to rush the contour of a thigh

before me flows the solid breath of time

called earth


and the sides curve the shape of a shoulder collapses into generation

the sunlight is a body laying on top of me a gilded nerve recreates my entire life


I am a river holding the glare of the sun like a wildfire that becomes whatever it touches

carried in its pulse


the steady stare of the sun a death stare

a thousand yard stare


like a jealous God


I watch bright red ants spill out of a hole in the ground

like a jackal

I'll run towards the wildfire

there's something about the pale blue smoke--like a hand opening and closing

fire sliding around in its palm                     a firefly held in a fist

the windy sky tearing around the borders                   that sets the struggle


that feels like home


Because of my involvement with the group, with its support and diversity, I've become a better writer. Anyone who wants to broaden their creative horizons are welcome. If you're an artist, and you think you're alone in La Junta (or the surrounding area), you're not.