Dear Reader,

Hello. This is a temporary website to let you know I exist, particularly if you’re interested in taking a mythic voice workshop in writing & mask-making at the Art Center in G.J., Colorado this summer or a the same workshop in the fall at the Sitka center in Oregon. A new permanent site should be up by early fall.

I’m a fiction writer, essayist and poet, originally from Minnesota, and I’ve taught and coached writers for 25 years. My goal is always to hear a writer’s strongest, singing voice, and to help each person write honestly, without fear and with authority. A shelf of books in my office has emerged from their hard work.

Living and Dying

Right now I have an unusual job; I write poems about the dying and those who possess the skill and compassion to take care of them. It’s a year-long poet-in residence position, to culminate in a book that a Colorado hospice, Hope West, will publish this fall.

I hold the hands of families and patients and follow them and doctors and nurses and social workers and chaplains into this great mystery. It keeps me steady. It makes my heart open until I can hardly stand it any more, and then another poem comes. Humbling, life changing, every day.

I believe in a radiant divine that lives in any gesture of love, the touch of the unknown, the sound of owls echoing in canyons before dawn, in something incarnate and more immense than any idea or name, though, like most, I keep trying to name it.

Upcoming Workshop: Discovering Your Mythic Voice

Offered in two locations:

July 22-23, The Art Center, Grand Junction, Colorado
September 18-19, The Sitka Center for Art & Ecology at Cascade Head, Oregon

This is a class about discovering the wildness and the mythic voice within, and it’s my very favorite workshop to teach. It grows out of studying and writing poetic myth and concretely following elk herds on Cascade Head and kayaking on the Salmon River, and gathering bones and fossils in ancient villages in the Southwest.

Class description: Come write your own myth, in prose or poetry, and make a mask, about this time in your life. Read and listen to sensual tales and poems by Isak Dinesen, Sara Teasdale and several native American writers as echoes of inner openings to explore. Choose bone, leaf, shell or cone, or bring your own to embed in a mask, which we’ll wear in a final reading on Sunday after discovering our own images of the sea or desert.

July 22-23, 2017 - The Art Center, Grand Junction, CO

Cost: $135 member / $175 non-member
To register, click here.

Sept. 18-19, 2017 - Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, Otis, OR

Cost: $220 ($7 materials fee) $227 total
To register, click here.

If either course interests you, and you have any questions, please contact me at I’ll also be happy to chat with you on the phone.

Some Back Story

After attending, as Garrison Keillor did, the U of M, and some post-graduate years of journalistic writing in Europe, I worked as an editor and script analyst in New York City for seven years. Landed, through great luck, my first agent, Gloria Safier, a literary mother to many, who sold my first short story to Ms.

As dazzling as the city is, it’s a tough place to live, enfolded in a zillion layers of metal and concrete. I finally escaped to Boulder to finish an M.A. in creative writing, then to Wyoming for a Ucross residency, where I met my husband (which still brings up jokes about “colony affairs,” but it turned out rather well) and had our first child, Julian, in our house on Piney Creek in Story, Wyo. Picture enormous Ponderosa pines in the foothills of the Bighorn mountains, and everywhere the sound of water.

After an idyllic year, where I taught for U. of Wyoming, we moved to Portland, Oregon, in the 1990’s. Magnificent community, a city I’ll always love. I had the great pleasure of teaching writing and literature at Portland State University, Linfield College, Pacific University, and Lewis and Clark College, then directing a writing program for four years at WSU-Vancouver.

With Julian and our second child, Lillian, we moved back to the interior West to start a green building company, Serra Homes, and to live again near wilderness in the company of cougars, coyotes, and Bighorn sheep. We built our own house, the four of us, with some help of some fine subcontractors, on the edge of BLM land in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Here I’ve wound up teaching writing retreats and intensives in Buddhist and Christian monasteries, out in wilderness sanctuaries, and on river rafting trips, in Oregon, Utah and Colorado. I founded and directed a nonprofit, the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum, an essential writing community in a town that’s four hours from Denver or Salt Lake.


I’ve had over 200 articles, editorials, essays, poems, scripts, radio pieces and short stories published and/or performed (NPR, Oregon and Colorado Public Radio, Earth on the Air, many journals -- Rosebud, The Writer, The Bloomsbury Review, the Denver Post, the Taos Review, others). There’s also twenty-one literary awards, including the American Fiction prize, the Colorado Poetry award, N.E.H. and other national awards, and nine residencies at Yaddo and other colonies.

My first two books were nonfiction, about travelling and women’s health; my third book, Desert Water, a collection of poems, was published by an exquisite regional publisher, Lithic Press, in 2009. After finishing Girl in the Sea, I hope to travel to Spain to work on a love story that’s entangled with a classic Spanish poet.


Safe journeys, happy writing, stay tuned, come back soon.

Sandy Dorr