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The Boulder Daily Camera recently reported on the social media full-court press launched by current and former students at Boulder-based Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in response to the June layoffs of 23 staff members at the school. Posting under the tag SaveTKS on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, the students have released a list of demands, including the desires, as Scott Schlaufman of the Daily Camera wrote, "that the ideals and values of the Jack Kerouac School are retained, that student participation in decision-making at the school is increased, and that the school's diversity advocate position -- cut in the June 15 layoffs -- be reinstated." Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa founded Naropa in 1974, and he invited Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage and Diane di Prima to start a poetics program there shortly after it opened. Because it was founded by such anti-institutional figures, Naropa has always seemed a freewheeling place, but Stuart J. Sigman, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Naropa, responded to the people behind SaveTKS with a statement written in standard academia speak. Also in the Roundup: Julianne Couch reports on Wyoming's many writing groups, and news about the Sun Valley Writers' Conference.

Social Media Uprising at the Jack Kerouac School and Wyoming Writers Band Together

The Boulder Daily Camera recently reported on the social media full-court press launched by current and former students at Boulder-based Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in response to the June layoffs of 23 staff members at the school.

Posting under the tag SaveTKS on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, the students have released a list of demands, including the desires, as Scott Schlaufman of the Daily Camera wrote, “that the ideals and values of the Jack Kerouac School are retained, that student participation in decision-making at the school is increased, and that the school’s diversity advocate position — cut in the June 15 layoffs — be reinstated.”

Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa founded Naropa in 1974, and he invited Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage and Diane di Prima to start a poetics program there shortly after it opened. Because it was founded by such anti-institutional figures, Naropa has always seemed a freewheeling place, but Stuart J. Sigman, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Naropa, responded to the people behind SaveTKS with a statement written in standard academia speak. It begins:

“Concern has been expressed that major decisions have been made concerning the future structure of Naropa University’s academic departments and programs, without involvement of the full university community. I’m writing to assure you that no such decisions have been made and won’t be undertaken without fully engaging students, faculty and staff so all concerns and viewpoints can be considered.”

I don’t know if I advise reading the whole statement, reprinted on Save TKS’s Tumblr page, unless you’re suffering from insomnia, but basically, Sigman says Naropa has no intention of dismantling the Jack Kerouac School. Still, the whole thing sure riled these poets up. Maybe they’ll be inspired to write some poetry about it.

• The Wyoming Arts Blog made note of Julianne Couch’s recent article for The Daily Yonder, “Wyoming Writers Circle The Wagons.” Crouch writes:

“…In the frontier state of Wyoming, where the population averages five people per square mile, finding anyone to give sound advice about storytelling might be tough. It isn’t, thanks in part to an active arts council, a statewide writing organization, and writers groups that are scattered around the state. From Cheyenne to Cody, Casper to Jackson Hole, Sheridan to Sundance and up to what is probably the highest writing group in America—at Atlantic City (pop. 39)—Wyoming writers are creating, critiquing and, yes, publishing their work.”

Crouch goes on to describe several of the writing groups in far-flung areas of Wyoming, and their publishing successes. She also notes how relatively well-funded Wyoming’s Art Council is, “to the tune of $2 million a year.”

So not only can Wyoming boast that Cody is the new Literary Capital of America (as I’ve declared it to be), it also hosts the Highest Writing Group in America. I won’t make a joke about how that distinction used to belong to Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, but you can.

• But what if you’re not in Wyoming, state of artistic brotherly love, or at Naropa, that font of inspiration? Don’t despair, because there are plenty of writing conferences and book festivals throughout the region, as we’ve been covering in our new Western Book Festival series. The organizers of two such conferences recently wrote in to spread the word:

The 15th Annual Sun Valley Writers’ Conference will take place at the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho on August 20 through 23. This year’s conference features many nationally-recognized writers including poet and memoirist Mary Karr, travel writer Pico Iyer, and Dennis Lehane, a novelist and screenwriter who has elevated crime fiction to new literary heights. Liaquat Ahamed, whose book Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, will interview Henry Paulson, the former Secretary of the Treasury, and many other writers and thinkers will make presentations throughout the conference. Tickets to individual talks are on sale now for $35 each, and a four-day pass to all the events is $850.

And in Portland, Oreg., Ibex Studios sponsors several summer writing workshops that combine writing with outdoor adventures: “Living Room Series: Readers Write in Southeast Portland” (Wednesdays, July 28-August 18, $30-50), “Writing our Bellies Full of Garden Goodies: A Full-Day Retreat in the Columbia Gorge” (August 1, $75-90), “Maps and Terra Incognita: A Women’s Writing and Backpacking Adventure on the Salmon River” (August 22-24, $80-125).

I like that second one, which seems to involve writing, hiking, and eating at the same time.

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