Steamboat Reads

'Pass the Poetry, Please,' one project of monthlong literacy campaign


— For the past three weeks, office and retail employees have taken a break from their work to arrange and rearrange the order of magnetic words, hoping to create a turn of phrase and then a poem.

The local librarian's scheme to get the community writing poetry worked.

The Steamboat Springs Arts Council wrote one. Springsips wrote one. Pilot Office Supply, Sportsmed and the Pet Kare Clinic each wrote one. Their poems are posted on the Internet at and on Poet-Trees at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

On Tuesday, the students from Steamboat Springs High School's leadership class picked up the last of the magnetic poetry kits.

The project, called "Pass the Poetry, Please," was just one part of the monthlong "Steamboat Reads" campaign.

Every school and library in Steamboat participated in the campaign, each with their own events.

Community members who struggle to write poetry were given a chance to take a poetry workshop from Kate Krautkramer at Colorado Mountain College.

"She talked about how, in your life, things don't happen in an orderly manner, and poetry can happen in the same disparate way with a collection of thoughts," SSHS librarian Martha Oman said.

Krautkramer told students to write down a wish, a promise or a reminder. Each writer then followed his or her statement with descriptive words. The poems they produced were then copied on a strip of paper and twisted into a Mobius Strip, creating a one-sided circle.

The poems are hanging in the SSHS library.

On April 11, SSHS brought performer David Skipper to town, paying him with grant money from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, to perform the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. He visited the high school for an afternoon assembly and performed again for the public at The Depot Arts Center.

He recited three of Poe's poems, "Annabelle Lee," "The Raven" and "Eulalie."

"He told us that all three poems were about his wife dying," Oman said.

After the performance, Skipper takes questions from the audience, remaining in character.

"People always ask him how he died, but he can't answer that in character. If he was dead, then he wouldn't be on stage talking to us," Oman said. Skipper turned away and "broke the spell" in order to answer the death question as David Skipper.

Poe's death remains a mystery, but it is assumed by many he died of alcoholism or drug addiction on the streets of Baltimore.

"(Skipper) put a lot of rumors to rest," Oman said. When an audience member asked him if he/Poe was a drug addict, he answered that he had only taken drugs once when he tried to commit suicide. He also said Poe did not die a drunk; he theorized instead that the poet died of syphilitic rabies.

"I guess it was not unusual at that time," Oman said. "And Poe took in a lot of stray cats. He could have gotten it from the cats."

About 50 people attended the performance at the Depot.

The Poe performance and other events were all part of the second annual Steamboat Reads campaign.

"As soon as this ends, we will have to think about what Steamboat wants to read next year," Oman said.

Other poetry related events:

n SSHS students studied poets in their modern literature classes and wrote poems in the style of that poet. The student poets shared their poems in a coffeehouse style open mic night.

n Students at Strawberry Park Elementary School wrote "shape poems" with words written in the shape of their poem topic.

n Strawberry Park Elementary students completed "Pass the Poetry" magnetic poetry kits in each classroom.

n Steamboat elementary students wrote poems for the national "Love that Pet" contest held by HarperCollins Publishing House in conjunction with the children's book, "Love that dog," by Sharon Creech. The winner of the contest gets $500 for his or her classroom.

n Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools exchanged poems.


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