Through creative writing, arts and healing-based workshops, emerging writers from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds gain resources and opportunities to share their voices, activate self-confidence, process the past, and receive support to enrich and empower their communities.
We envision story empowering and enriching communities, where every voice is valued and heard, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, nationality, citizenship, religion, ability, age or socio-economic status.
Abby grew up in Park Hill Denver on the corner of 25th and Albion. She was always a lover of story, spending hours playing dolls and making up songs, poems and raps. At the age of 12 she fell in love with the Spanish language, which then gave way to a passionate study of not only language but the many stories that accompany etymology; the story of immigration, travel, culture, activism and voice.
This passion led Abby to 17 years of teaching in title one public schools. She loved her time teaching within the classroom but it also highlighted for her the many broken parts of our current educational system—the need for more student choice, autonomy, more creativity, and more student voice, all this led Abby to officially launch Sidewalk Poets.
As Co-founder and Executive Director, Sidewalk Poets has been Abby’s life dream. A writer herself, she has experienced first hand the transformative power of owning one’s story and being able to share that story with others. Abby originally started Sidewalk Poets as an after school program at Coliseum Street School in South Central LA in 2008.
Abby has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Gettysburg College. She is the author of three books of poetry: A Blue House to Sleep In, Prayer from a Magdalena Jail Cell and An Avocado Slowly Falling. She holds a workshop lead certificate from Amherst Writers and Artists and is the proud mother of two.
“You make the thing because you love the thing and you love the thing because someone else loved it enough to make you love it.
And with that your heart like a tent peg pounded toward the earth’s core.
And with that your heart on a beam burns through the ionosphere.
And with that you go to work.”
Courtney has always had a passion for writing and the creative arts—and in particular their power to support processing, healing and change, on both individual and social levels. After receiving her MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2012, Courtney has taught creative writing in a variety of places, including CU, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, The Gathering Place homeless shelter, Denver and Jeffco Public Libraries, UC Health Cancer Center, as well as in a research study on the impact of creative arts therapy at UCH Anschutz.
Her favorite part about leading workshops is witnessing the personal transformation that happens as people share their voices and stories, and are received, seen and heard. As well as the community connection and collaboration that builds when we use creative expression to open to vulnerability and shared humanity.
Sidewalk Poets is a shared dream and vision with Abby Templeton-Greene. After working in and with nonprofits for over five years, Courtney is thrilled to be able to collaborate on healing-based creative writing workshops, art installations and nature retreats with communities that are typically underserved and ignored by arts programming, as well as mental health and therapeutic supports.
Morgan is the author of The Seven Autopsies of Nora Hanneman, a semifinalist for the FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize. Her writing has also been published in Lunch Ticket, Pleiades, American Book Review, and others. She is also founder of The Embodied Creative, where she offers writing and creativity coaching, as well as writing courses incorporating a multiplicity of topics, including healing arts, the erotic, astrology and more. She lives in Louisville, CO with her son and dog, and is working on a speculative novel between workshops.
Rocío Almanza Guillén is currently a Digital producer at Fred Rogers Productions, overseeing the creation of games and digital content for the animated series Alma’s Way and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. She is a bilingual specialist in design for learning with a focus on children and their families.
Prior to joining Fred Rogers Productions, her vast experience included product management, production, creativity, and strategy for educational and non-profit organizations such as the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Discovery Kids México, and more. Rocío has served as a consultant on programs such as Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, STEMblazers, the National Center for Women & IT, and TECHNOLOchicas.
Rocío is also the co-founder of Buenas Causes Studio, a multicultural creative studio for good that specializes in content and story creation that spark vast opportunity, impact, and ultimately promote change.
Rocío holds a B.A. in Communications and Journalism from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, with a specialization in Social Education from Universidad de Sevilla, and an M.A. in Digital Media Design for Learning from New York University.
Quote from El libro de los abrazos
de Eduardo Galeano
No hay dos fuegos iguales.
Hay fuegos grandes y fuegos chicos
y fuegos de todos los colores.
Hay gente de fuego sereno que ni se entera del viento,
y gente de fuego loco que llena el aire de chispas.
Algunos fuegos, fuegos bobos, no alumbran ni queman;
pero otros, otros arden la vida con tantas ganas
que no se puede mirarlos sin parpadear,
y quien se acerca, se enciende.
Hailing originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Erika DeShay Lowenkron is an English teacher and writer living in East Colfax. Erika studied poetry under Mary Kinzie at Northwestern University and is still reeling from Robert Pinsky calling her a poet when she introduced him at her college graduation. In her 23 years teaching, she has taught 4th-12th grade and facilitates a writing class for other teacher-writers. Erika’s poetry can be seen in Spoken Black Girl, Fatal Flaw, and 45 Magazine. A short fiction piece is upcoming in Half and One this year. When not writing or grading essays, she’s probably baking her love into pies.
“A writer is a world trapped inside a person.” Victor Hugo
Vic Gómez Betancourt (they/them) is a fundraiser extraordinaire who leverages 20 years of resource mobilization at the grassroots level and trust building with both state and national funding partners. In 2022, Vic launched Alquimia LLC to support small and mid-sized BIPOC and QTPOC-led organizations to amplify their impact by building capacity and strengthening their grassroots fundraising and grants management programs as well as helping to build the bench of development professionals of color. As a political creative, gender migrant, disabled, queer feminista uplifting the struggles of the latine diaspora, Vic is one of Colorado’s abortion storytellers, spoken word performers, and visual artists committed to stigma busting.
Abuelito was enamorao, says mamá
he spotted Abuelita at harvest, eying the full
length of the Venezuelan savannah
he thought of his future with a blanca
Abuelita was fair,
golden brown hair tied in a trenza
that brushed her nachas
when she walked
at fourteen she wore a timid smile
to her arranged wedding,
dread clenched in her chest when she moved
from her papá’s ranch to her marido’s
but Abuelito was a man with a querida
he only had to cross the river to pat another
woman’s plump belly and count his hijos
he had many
chasing lice out of black haired children
Abuelita was too busy to care about la otra
Abuelito was enamorao, says mamá
he had many
Dan is an award-winning literary arts advocate whose passion is people and their stories. As an author and editor he’s published community anthologies as well as a nationally recognized arts and culture community engagement toolkit. The storytellers he works with include people experiencing homelessness, incarcerated people and returning citizens, veterans, older adults, and writers struggling with substance misuse. In 2021, Denver’s Mayor and City Council appointed Dan to the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, where he currently serves as co-chair.
“Inside the needle’s eye, a turning night of stars.” ~Rumi
Eileen Roscina is an artist, experimental filmmaker and naturalist from Denver, Colorado. She earned a BFA from Emerson College in Boston, MA, is an MFA candidate at University of Colorado, Boulder and trained at the School of Botanical Art and Illustration in Denver. Through biomimicry and the study of biophilia, her work examines human’s spiritual and social (dis)connection with nature, and seeks to raise questions about realizing a radically different metaphoric mapping of time, space and our place in the world. She has exhibited film internationally, and visual art at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Boulder), Museo de Las Americas (Denver), Vicki Myhren Gallery at University of Denver (Denver), Center for Visual Art (Denver), Arvada Center (Arvada), Dairy Art Center (Boulder), University of Colorado (Boulder), Salina Art Center (Kansas) and was the 2019 Resident Artist for the National Western Stock Show, a 2018-2020 resident at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Denver. She is represented by Walker Fine Art Gallery in Denver, CO
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