Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #4

Who Are The Columbine Poets?

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Columbine Poets are a state poetry society affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) whose sole purpose is to foster the appreciation and writing of poetry within the state of Colorado among people of all ages. A Columbine membership automatically makes one a member of the NFSPS. The fee for state and national membership is $15.00.

Anita Jepson-GilbertAccording to Anita Jepson-Gilbert, it started in 1978, and was mainly based in Ft. Collins. Later, it became based in Denver when the Foothills Poets from the Foothills Art Center in Golden comprised the core membership. The membership runs between 90 and 100 members across the state of Colorado with two chapters, the Foothills Chapter, based in Denver, and the Shavano Chapter, based in Salida.

Membership in the Foothills Chapter is $35, allowing one to participate in all the weekly poetry workshops at no extra cost. The Chapter hosts weekly poetry workshops in Denver at Daphne’s Deli at 393 Corona, from 10-noon every Saturday. These are designed to focus on the work of a famous poet and then use that work as a springboard to start writing something new. Once a month they hold a critique session.

Once a year the Chapter hosts a Poetry Fest, an all-day event with workshops and readings. This year’s Fest was held Sept. 20 at Arapahoe Community College at which the new members’ anthology, 30 Years and 30 Miles from Here, was introduced and celebrated and Joe Hutchison of Denver gave a workshop and reading. Every year they sponsor a student contest for junior and senior high schools in Colorado, the winners going on to the National NFSPS Contest.

Asked how successful the Columbine poets have been, Anita responded, “I’d say, from the growth of the organization, it’s been successful in that it has provided a much needed community of poets where everyone is welcome, regardless of type of poetry s/he produces. Members attend the Saturday workshops as often as their busy lives will permit. Every week you will find between 10 to 15 people there.”

Anita emphasized that all styles of poetry are appreciated. Anyone who is 18 or older can join this active organization. Inquiries can be sent to her at or call 303-431-6774.