Montana Public Radio

Missoula Writing Collaborative

Nick Littman, Missoula Writing Collaborative

In July 2019, Annie Garde ushered a flock of writers, ages 8-14, in KUFM's Studio B to read poems they'd written with the Missoula Writing Collaborative's "Words With Wings" summer camp. To prime the pump, teachers Dana Fitz Gale, Sheryl Noethe and Anna Zumbahlen dangled before their students art, verbal prompts and the occasional imaginary takeover of a university building.  Listen to "I'm From the Hayfields," "Ode to a Goat," "Non-Existant Pie," "You Are, You Are Not," "The Purple Bug," "The Best Night For Peach," "Ode to Chili" -- and 36 more.

Missoula Writing Collaborative

On August 20, 2018 at 4:30 p.m., board members of the Missoula Writing Collaborative installed the kiosk stand and laptop containing the Missoula Children’s Poetry Map in the children’s section of the Missoula Public Library. The digital map features more than 500 poems written by fourth-grade students about places in Missoula. Accompanying the poems are colorful drawings and recordings by the students. The poems cover well-known Missoula landmarks: the M and L trails, the North Hills, as well as lesser-known areas, such as Skyview Park, Rainbow Hill or Moose Can Gully. 

The map was a collaboration between Caroline Patterson, executive director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative, Ken Wall and Kyle Balke, President of Geodata Services, and Greg and Chris Robitaille of Xplorer Maps. It was funded by a $25,000 National Endowment Our Town Grant as well as a $10,000 grant from the Llewellyn Foundation. The Missoula Public Library and Missoula County Schools were also partners.

Riverbend Publishing

In these stories, Patterson explores what it is to grow up female in the American West. As her narratives reveal the lives of travelers, homemakers, radio show announcers, mothers, teachers, dancers, shop clerks, and the subterranean world of girls, they take the reader from a ferry dock in Resurrection Bay, Alaska, to a two-room school in the Bitterroot Valley, from brash, backpacking college students to young new mothers on the edge, from the 1920s to the 1990s. In Ballet at the Moose Lodge, Patterson explores in delicate and searing prose the visible and invisible negotiations women make to navigate lives bound by the rugged western landscape.

She’s known across the West for her work with Missoula's bluegrass burner-band, Broken Valley Roadshow, and for Stellarondo, a music and spoken word collaboration with author Rick Bass. For the first time, singer-songwriter Caroline Keys steps out on her own with a new solo album, “Mean To Stay." Caroline Keys talks about her solo debut on this episode of "Musician's Spotlight."

"This last fall, I was teaching a poetry class in Arlee, a small Montana town on the Flathead Reservation, just after the first snow fell on the mountains," writes musician-poet-teacher, Caroline Keys. "A junior high student in my poetry class, one in a set of identical twin brothers, turned in a poetry exercise in which he was asked to replicate one of the most famous and enigmatic poems titled "This is Just to Say" by the Modernist poet, William Carlos Williams. The assignment asked him to rewrite Williams's mysteriously potent form with something from his own life.  The student's poem began like this:

This is just to say
yes we have switched classes
you thought I was the other twin
and you have finally figured it out...

Victor Charlo, Salish poet
Sue Reynolds / Sue Reynolds Photography

Good writing often tells a story about a place, and how the people in a place live and come to understand the land around them. That’s what Victor Charlo, a Bitterroot Salish Elder, taught when he visited a 4th grade writing class at Pablo Elementary School last Thursday. MTPR Flathead Reporter Corin Cates-Carney has the story of young writers being taught to find the right words to describe their home.

courtesy of the Hydaburg School District

Every year, Robert Lee spends time as a poet-in-residence at the Haida School of Hydaburg, Alaska. His students teach Lee as much about surviving the elements as he teaches them about self-expression. 

4/15/14 & 4/16/14: This week on "Reflections West:"

Robert Lee reflects on his experiences teaching poetry in a fishing town in Alaska. He pairs his thoughts with a poem by an elementary student from Hydaburg.

Margie Dougherty-Goodburn and several kids who participated in recent workshops through the Missoula Writing Collaborative will be in Studio A this afternoon during Pea Green Boat (4 - 5 p.m.). They'll take turns reading their stories and poems and talk about the process of writing.

"A Poem for the End of Summer"

Aug 26, 2013

All the cracks swerve up the
tree making it look old and
realistic. Its small leaves swaying
and shriveling in the hot sun. When
I look at the tip of the tree, the leaves
are tiny green dots, but up close I can see veins
running down each
and every leaf. The sun shines
through the leaves creating spots
and dots of sun on the grassy ground.
One branch multiplying into another
creating fractals and patterns of
all sorts. You can imagine
the root extending into the ground
making the tree stable and balanced.