Local writers featured at Harvest of Voices

By Leah Morris

"One of the things I like best about local authors is they usually deliver their books by hand, so you get to meet them," says regional manager Lea Hart. This is more than an occasional occurrence at the Delta County Libraries, as western Colorado has a wonderful abundance of local authors, and the libraries work hard to collect and exhibit their books. Subjects vary from fishing to domestic violence to fantasy to poetry. Some books are self-published and some have won national awards. Given Delta County residents' diverse range of backgrounds and interests, it makes sense that so many subjects are represented locally.

With the coordination of Paonia's Literary Committee, the Delta County Libraries and the Blue Sage Center for the Arts are collaborating to give area writers, known and unknown, a chance to share their work with the community. The event, Harvest of Voices, was started by the Blue Sage many years ago, and the two groups have worked together much of that time to make the event a success. It coincides with Paonia's Mountain Harvest Festival. Paonia Library staff member Laura Lee Yates has worked on the Harvest of Voices for the past eight years. She explains, "Since the Mountain Harvest Festival celebrates the bounty of the North Fork Valley, it was decided that we should also celebrate the plethora of great writers that call this home."

Every year has included a remarkable share of quality authors and poets. Yates describes, "Past readers have included international sci-fi star Paolo Bacigalupi, award-winner Craig Childs, and critically-acclaimed memoirist Lisa Jones; each year we wonder which rising star or debut reader will knock our socks off."

This year's event, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m., has actually outgrown the Blue Sage, where standing-room-only crowds have historically overwhelmed the building. Event organizer Mary Bachran states, "The most exciting thing for me this year is the simulcast. We are going to live stream the event to the Paradise Theatre to accommodate the overflow crowds we have had in the past. The lineup of readers is stellar, with old favorites like Eric Goold presenting as well as new faces."

Library calendars highlight several other upcoming events incorporating local and Colorado authors. Award-winning Colorado author Lou Dean will give a presentation at the Delta Library Monday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 p.m. followed a month later by Colorado writers and ghost hunters Mark and Kym Todd on Halloween. Katherine Colwell will visit the Paonia Library Oct. 24 with a 22-foot-long art book she created to reflect her experiences living in Utah, and Paonia's Literary Committee has several other events in the works. All the Delta County Libraries offer author events throughout the course of the year.

Blue Sage director Annette Pretorius describes the challenges faced by writers in the area, saying, "There aren't many opportunities for local writers and poets to get up in front of the community and say, 'Hey! This is what I'm doing,' the way it is for musicians and visual artists." The libraries work to support and promote local talent as much as possible; community members can help show their enthusiasm for area writers by visiting their libraries and other community organizations like the Blue Sage, attending events, and reading the books that represent the work of so many local residents.