Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #5

Spreading the Light: The Lighthouse Writers

Spotting ads for a number of activities sponsored by the Lighthouse Writers in Denver, I had to find out what all was going on with that group. After all, in 2007 they attracted over 2,000 students for their workshops and over 1,000 attending parties, receptions, and other events. They turn out to be one major group!

The Lighthouse is a non-profit, independent creative writing program for writers of all ages, genres, and walks of life. "We’re kind of like a graduate MFA program," Mike Henry said, "but without the competitiveness, grades, and exorbitant costs. Our mission is to support literary community all along the Front Range, to educate writers, and to
support working and publishing writers."

Mike Henry

Mike Henry

The project was started in Boston in the mid-1990s by Mike and his wife, fiction writer Andrea Dupree. "When our first workshop quickly filled with a very interesting mix of folks – a working mother of two, a post-doc Japanese student from Harvard, an advertising writer, and a software developer – we thought that our crazy idea of offering workshops to individuals just might work out." Mike and Andrea moved to Denver in the summer of 1997, taught a few free workshops at the Denver Public Library, and "things gradually built from there."

The Lighthouse group offers weekly workshops in all genres, one-day intensives workshops, a two-week literary festival each June, and a writer’s retreat in Grand Lake every July. They also hold monthly free talks and readings, called the Writer’s Buzz, as well as book release parties and get-togethers.

Mike is especially proud of their thriving young writers’ program, through which they teach creative writing in neighborhood schools, as well as workshops in the Thomas Ferril House in Denver. "It’s amazing to find young writers who are passionate about the craft and feel that writing is an integral part of their lives."

The faculty of over 30 writers, and "some heavy hitters," according to Mike, include Nick Arvin (Articles of War, the 2007 One Book, One Denver choice), Janis Hallowell (author of She Was), Laura Pritchett (author of Sky Bridge), William Haywood Henderson (author of Augusta Locke), and poets David Rothman (author of Colorado Book Award finalist Elephant’s Chiropractor and founder of Conundrum Press) and Chris Ransick, current Denver Poet Laureate.

Everyone at Lighthouse is proud of their members who’ve achieved great successes of their own – including Gary Schanbacher, whose book, Migration Patterns just won the Colorado Book Award for fiction, and Kim Field, whose memoir No Place Safe also received the Colorado Book Award. And then there’s Sarah Ockler, who received a generous two-book deal from Little Brown from two Y A novelsthe first of which, called Twenty Boy Summer, will be out early next year.

 However, Mike says, "Lighthouse is not just about big deals and publications. We’re very proud that there are over 500 current Lighthouse members who are engaged in learning and practicing the craft. We believe in the transformative power of writing, because, as the memoirist and historian Richard Rhodes says, "Writing is a form of making, and making humanizes the world."
To get in touch with Lighthouse, call 303-297-1185, email at, or check out their web site: