Since its inception, The Colorado Sun has been committed to introducing readers to a variety of Colorado-connected writers and their fiction and nonfiction work through the weekly SunLit feature that offers book excerpts and author interviews.
Starting this summer, The Sun also will directly encourage writers to explore their creativity in a rural setting by supporting the inaugural SunLit Writer-in-Residence on the Eastern Plains, a new program stemming from a wide-ranging arts initiative in the region.
Anita Mumm, a student in Western Colorado University’s Master of Fine Arts program in nature writing, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the SunLit residency. She’ll spend one week writing and engaging with the community from a century-old home in the town of Joes, two hours east of Denver and about 30 miles due south of Yuma.
SunLit will add an honorarium to help cover incidental expenses.
Mumm grew up in rural western Kansas and has been a writer and freelance editor of fiction and nonfiction. After two decades in education and publishing, she decided to pursue her MFA, which she’ll complete this year.
“During my time at the residency, I plan to focus on my children’s novel and essay projects, all rooted in the landscape of the plains,” Mumm said. “I grew up near Atwood, Kansas, on Highway 36 east of Joes, and through my work I seek to illuminate the complexities — hardship, joy and everything between — of life in rural America. I also look forward to connecting with the community through sharing my work and listening to the experiences of others.”
The writing residency marks a new chapter in an arts initiative emanating from Joes called the Prairie Sea Projects, which aims to highlight rural creativity ranging from film to music to biodiverse gardening in the age of climate change. It receives financial support for the programs offered in 2023-24 from Arts in Society, Colorado Creative Industries and the Gates Family Foundation.
Directors Kirsten Stoltz and Maureen Hearty are introducing the literary component this summer by inviting writers to explore rural perspectives through one-week residencies from May through August. Loveland-based author Claire Boyles — whose short story collection “Site Fidelity” was a Colorado Book Award finalist last year and featured in SunLit — also is among those participating in the program.
“It’s a good exercise to get out in these spaces,” Stoltz said. “It’s creativity on a different level. Standing in a wheat field. Going to a tiny store, engaging with a quilting circle. Different ways of being in a rural space allow for a different kind of creativity.
“Ultimately,” she added, “our goal is to have folks create work based on the High Plains to further the reach of work produced in isolated rural places.”
Participants in the SunLit residency will be selected in conjunction with MFA programs at Colorado colleges on a rotating basis.