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Carol Murphy

Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy

Poetry Faculty


Ph.D., Denver University, 1989
M.A., Denver University, 1985
B.A. University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Indian Teacher Corps, 1975


Carol Guerrero-Murphy has a significant history of publishing while teaching creative writing from preschool through graduate levels in Southern Colorado. Her latest book, Bright Path Dark River (October 2020) is a finalist for the CAL poetry award. Chained Dog Dreams is her second full length book (finishinglinepress November 2019). Her first book, Table Walking at Nighthawk (Ghost Road Press, 2007) was nominated for a Pushcart and earned a WILLA Award. She is semi-retired, writing and teaching in the Adams State Prison College Program, bringing to students her belief in the restorative power of literature and writing, and is affiliate faculty in the Western Colorado University M.F.A. Creative Writing program. Six poems from Bright Path, Dark River, are featured in The Missouri Review. Journal publications among many others include Southwestern Literary Review, Pilgrimage, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review and many others. Anthologies include Pilgrimage: Thirty Years; and Even Cowboys Carry Cellphones. Many of her poems are set in the Huerfano and San Luis valleys of Colorado and in Alaska where she spent her childhood. She is a professor emerita from Adams State University. She has a doctorate from Denver University’s program in English/Creative Writing.

How did you discover Western?

I have lived in the area and visited Western many times over many years. I was invited to be a part of the M.F.A. affiliate faculty.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Published three books of poetry, many poems and short stories in journals, taught many interesting and excellent students, and have gotten to work as a leader for equity and inclusion at my institutions. I thought I was retiring but discovered again how much I am inspired by working with faculty and students.

What most excites you about your field?

The infinite potential to learn: Every other field can be relevant to it. And of course, words, words, words–gotta love them. Of biology, Darwin wrote: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” While I celebrate this reference to our planet’s biodiversity, I also like to toy with the statement as a metaphor for language. For me, being a writer nurtures a sense of hope despite reasons for despair. It is exciting, too, to nurture or ignite this creative energy with students.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

The light of high altitude, the open spaces, good memories, the river and the town.

Courses taught:

CRWR 630 First Year Poetry Intensive
CRWR 694 Poetry Capstone Course.


Bright Path Dark River, October 2020
Chained Dog Dreams, November 2019
Table Walking at Nighthawk, 2005
Multiple Journals

External Professional Affiliations

Adams State Prison College Program
One Earth Future Foundation (for Peace)
Freelance Writing Coach


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