Use your words – (Re)introducing news poetry

Dear readers,

You may have noticed The Independent’s occasional departure from straight news into postings with stanzas and without punctuation. We call those news poems, a project launched by former Indy reporter Tessa Cheek, a talented writer who left our newsroom in 2015 to “write pretty,” as I remember one of my kids describing it. It’s poetry to our ears to learn she’s back in Colorado (Ridgeway) after two years in a creative writing program on the right side of the continent. Welcome home, Tessa!

The past year in news has struck us as especially poetry-worthy, and we at The Indy – like you, and most Coloradans, and most Americans, and, hell, pretty much everyone on the planet – have been having some especially big feelings about the headlines. Some newsrooms balk at feelings. Ours isn’t one of them. It is as much our job to recognize how news hits the gut as how it hits the head.

Poetry, like journalism, can help us see and hear each other. The poet-as-witness relays the experiences of news that go beyond the merely factual who, what, why, where, when and how. Some questions need to be chewed on. Sometimes you’ve got to bend the genre.

That’s why, after two years without news poetry, we’re proud to announce that Jackie St. Joan, a poet and former Denver judge, is relaunching the project for The Indy. Jackie has been working with a group of active poets, including Karen Douglass and Kathleen Willard, whose poems, “Fracking Elegy”  and “Fracking Accident, Firestone, Colorado” we posted over the weekend. But we invite the work of all poets, including closeted ones and those who’ve never published, and are calling on submissions.

Send your stuff to

A few guidelines and clarifications…

– We’re looking for poems about issues that are of particular interest in Colorado.

– We’re partial to free form.

– Less is more.

– We won’t publish all submissions because we’re picky. Picky how? Suffice it to say that we know a good news poem when we see one.

– And, no, news poetry isn’t fake news.

Use your words, Colorado. We can’t wait to read you.

-Susan Greene, editor