Residents share stories of the West with “Words to Stir the Soul”
The Center of the American West, or “the Center,” held “Words to Stir the Soul: Readings from the West” in Old Main on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Throughout the night, men and women read prose and poetry highlighting the hardships and wonders of the West.
The event, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, began in honor of human expression, such as reading and writing but also in honor of the region known as the American West.
The readers shared excerpts of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
“People really like to be read to,” said Patricia Limerick, chairman of the board for the Center of the American West.
In Board Member Nancy Carlston’s reading, she presented an excerpt from Laura Pritchett’s “Hell’s Bottom,” which glorified the simple way of life found in Colorado through a rancher’s tale.
Limerick continued the theme of the night by reading from Roger G. Kennedy’s “Wildfire and Americans: How to Save Lives, Property, and Your Tax Dollars.” Kennedy, the retired director of the National Park Service, details the Cerro Grande Fire and the day it destroyed 45,000 acres of forest.
“I was struck by his courage,” Limerick said. “I also like the theme of responsibility and accountability.”
For next year, the Center hopes to bring back its tradition of having student readers. The student readers are typically the winners of the Thompson Awards for Western Writing, a literary contest held by the Center of the American West.
According to its vision statement, The Center of the American West aims “to help citizens of the West become agents of sustainability – citizens who recognize that their actions determine the region’s future and who find satisfaction and purpose in that recognition.”
Although the Center has become focused on public debates, the Words to Stir the Soul series has helped members remember their original focus.
“[The Center] got involved with public controversies, but we want to remember how public policies are more important using poetry and writing,” Limerick said.
The Center is also celebrating its 20th anniversary, and in order to honor it, the institution will be holding an anniversary gala on Friday, Oct. 20.