Current Laureate: Susan M. Peiffer

Susan M. PeifferSusan M. Peiffer was inaugurated as the 5th Pikes Peak Poet Laureate on April 24, 2016. Susan will serve as Poet Laureate until April 2018.

Susan Peiffer is a published and nationally recognized poet who studied creative writing and theology at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. With graduate degrees from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Susan taught at a private high school in Delaware for six years, toured the United States as a poet, and then worked as program director for a non-profit in Philadelphia until 2012. Since relocating to Colorado Springs in 2012, Susan has become deeply invested in the local community. Currently executive director of Hear Here Poetry, she amplifies her intention to encourage all people to listen, write, share, and engage the world with their words. She facilitates workshops and classes on different aspects of writing and performance and hopes to help inspire the unique circumstances into which crafted poems arrive. Susan is eager to continue connecting different facets of the Pikes Peak Region through the shared experience of poetry.

This has been the longest sort of a short month—and I hope you have had time to be alone, but not much time lonely. We celebrated this month with Joe Hutchinson—the Colorado state poet laureate. Several local poets, including past laureates Price Strobridge, Janice Gould, and Jim Ciletti read their own poems and “Oh! The purple of it all…”
It was a celebration of Valentine’s day in the shadows of Pikes Peak. Sometimes we prefer our own company to anyone else’s and sometimes we are able to revel in shared intimacy with others. Love is transitional and changing and a choice—let us all attempt to be more charitable, truthful, and merciful with ourselves and with all those we encounter along the way.


[You will find Susan's poem "Dreaming DE" in her hand in the images attached below]

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It is the middle of winter and I am back east at my cottage on a northern most cove of the Chesapeake Bay on the eastern shore of Maryland. I would love to diagram that sentence. It is snowing and the stillness is tangible for the geese have gone quiet. This home is under the migratory pattern of so many birds—but the Snow Geese, the Canada Geese, and the Starlings are my favorite. It’s best to put seed out just before dawn and just at dusk to draw the most curious creatures. There is a squirrel I adore—he’s a wee thing I call Reepicheep as he is spry and has no tail. He’s been here the whole year and hasn’t grown much bigger…but he certainly is quick. It’s a different world at sea level. It’s been sunless and dreary and cold—but there is peace. There is quiet. There is the constant variation of tides swelling in and out. There are journals and there are pens and there is curriculum to be written. There is a fire, red wine, and my dog. Winter is a time of underground and rejuvenation and rest—and I wish you all the best hibernation.

Dreaming Delaware

I went to the top of a mountain—
collected shooting stars in an old cigar box— laid them at the foot of your bed last night fireflies at midnight a night light to keep you company—

I quiet wondered if silence
tells stories of questions
& kisses

I swung pendulum triplet counts
from tree-swing orchestrations—
swam striations
—a soul filled with sentiments—
sediment on insomnia’s spiral pathways
to the shores of Delaware
where ocean sneezes tickled
the bottoms of our pants
& sleep was something
adding brushstrokes
to our kisses—

You looked up at
a polka-dot explosion of sky—
saw a star with a slight shade of blue
& named it after my skin—
I wore short curly hair
& you held a holster for my lips on your jaw—

I picked up a seashell
the color of coming dawn
& held it at my ear
as silver dolphins poked heads up from waves & carried the wish I made to deeper waters—

Keep me.

We dove into the ocean
where freedom beat so strongly
baptizing us in salt water
and fishes clapping—

We tried to keep waking at bay
as long as we could
while the pesky neighbor of morning
crashed the party
& heaven played an encore
with the moon—

The sunlight wrapped around your smile
& I haven’t kissed anything as holy since— my lips still taste of salt & wonder & I will never let you go…

I woke
& saw us the next day
& the day after that
& thirty years from now
finishing each others’ sentences
in the middle of silence,
& kisses.

Believe me when I tell you—
you are here
when I am washing my hands
in the porcelain sink—
silver dolphins spilling from the faucet— back in Delaware for a brilliant fleeting moment—

Your name is just underneath my tongue
& with every line I can taste you.

You left a love letter on my body—
the note I’d withheld from myself—
the one you took
for safe keeping—

& if you’re ever dreaming—
walking that sacred place again
where seagulls become protectors
& sand a layer of skin—
if through your closed eyes
you think of my palm in your hand—
you will hear my wishing voice
in the last waves—
in the last seashells buried on the beach— whispering a promise—


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James Ciletti, Pikes Peak Poet Laureate 2010-2012 presents...
"Every day, walk the Sunfire, breathe the Stardust"

When: Saturday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Hooked on Books, 12 East Bijou Downtown.

In this workshop Jim will lead writers in the art and craft of creating a journal and system of journaling to create daily inspiration.

Everyone who wants to engage in the workshop is expected to bring the following:

  1. A new journal (must be new), as thrifty as a $2 Composition notebook, to $10 spiral bound journals. If you do not have time to pick up a new journal Hooked on Books will have journals for sale.
  2. A pair of scissors, your writing pen, some colored pencils and crayons.
  3. Magazines, cooking, sports, news, the comics/funny papers from the news, whatever- things to cut up.
  4. A glue stick, if you have one (some will be provided).

But, most of all, bring an attitude of engagement and enthusiasm to participate in the work of the workshop. Jim emphasizes the word, WORK. There can be no sideline “auditors” who watch but do not engage in the workshop.

Please RSVP, as required: (719) 419-7660
*Parking Hint* Park for $1 all day Saturday in the city garage right around the corner from Hooked on Books.

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Poet JOY SAWYER will be the guest speaker for Poetry West’s workshop, Deep Play: a Poetry Romp, from 10 to Noon Saturday, February 4, at Hooked on Books bookstore, 12 East Bijou, downtown. HOB doors will open at 9:30. The workshop is open and free to all but reservations are suggested, call (719) 419-7660. Easy parking is $1 all day Saturday in the City Garage right around the corner from HOB.

Poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman wrote, “the spirit of deep play is spontaneity, discovery, and being open to new challenges.” Who knows this better than the poet? Sawyer plans a playful writing workshop to “exercise several ‘poetic muscles,’ and explore ways to nurture more joy and freedom in our creative work.”

Joy Sawyer’s poetry appears in Books & Culture, Christianity & Literature, LIGHT Quarterly, Lilliput Review, New York Quarterly, Ruminate, St. Petersburg Review, The Bacon Review, Volta, and others. Her book of poems is Tongues of Men and Angels (White Violet Press, 2016).
Joy received her MA from New York University, where she won the Herbert Rubin Award for Outstanding Creative Writing. She teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.

PR Contact, Jim Ciletti, (719) 419-7660

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The Fountain Valley School of Colorado is pleased to announce its annual city-wide poetry competition. Now in its 9the year, this competition is open to all students in grades 9-12 in the Colorado Springs region.

Deadline: March 1, 2017

English - First place: $100, Second: $50, Third: $25
Bilingual - First place: $100, Second: $50, Third: $25

The competition has two categories: English and bilingual. You may submit up to three poems in each category. For the second category, please submit your original work not written in English and an accompanying original translation. No electronic translation devices should be used in either version. You may enter both categories.

All winning poems will be published in the spring edition of the Athenaea.
All winning poets will be invited to read their poems at a ceremony in April 2017.

Judge: Susan Peiffer, Pikes Peak Poet Laureate

Each poem must include the student’s name, address, school, phone, and e-mail. Each student may submit up to three poems, each on a separate page, in each category. If e-mailed, paste directly into body. No attachments. The Athenaea will have one-time publishing rights only. Poems must be original and previously unpublished.

Entries should be in the font Times New Roman, or equivalent, size 12
Poems will not be returned.

Submit entries to or to this address:
David Reynolds
6155 Fountain Valley School Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80911

While there are no formal guidelines or topics, remember that good poetry uses fresh language and images with precise words.

The Athenaea is the student literary magazine of the Fountain Valley School of Colorado. Published twice a year and featuring student poetry, prose, and art, the magazine dates to 1930 and honors Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

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