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Current Course Offerings

Below is a current list of workshops being offered by Molly Murfee. Check back often for updates on courses to be offered in the various seasons as the year progresses.

Weaving the Web:
Myth, Metaphor, Meaning & the Muse 

Friday, May 27. 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
with the Mountain Words Literary Festival 

Writing is a lifestyle, a physical practice in mindfulness and awareness, ending in a story. As authors, it is up to us to find the seemingly disparate thematic threads floating in the air, and weave them into a cohesive web of metaphor and meaning. Work with your core beliefs, translating them into a defined theme in your story, and iterating them through writing devices such as characters, conversations, symbolism, and landscape. This interactive, immersive, experientially-based workshop first taps into the muse through a sensory conversation with physical nature, and what Greek philosopher Plato called the anima mundi, or World Soul. What inherent metaphors exist in the red-tailed hawk spiraling overhead, the wind in the trees? How do these players of an animate nature spur memories of mythology, folklore, fairy tales, or natural history from your past knowledge? We’ll bring in Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theories of the collective unconscious and archetypes to tap into the universal themes and characters in relationship with your own. How might they be showing up through synchronistic conversations you hear on the street, or serendipitous encounters giving you just the piece of information you were missing? Bring in your own emotions around your theme, as well as identify what stands in opposition to it. In the end you’ll weave the web, pulling together all the threads into a cohesive story shimmering with layering, depth, and meaning.


Any genre—fiction to poetry to creative nonfiction and beyond—is welcome. Generate new material or apply the activities to a current project (consider bringing a copy). This is an outdoor workshop with a small amount of easy walking, and sitting on the ground. Wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring a small backpack with water, warm layers, and a portable camp chair if you have one. We will work visually with the material, bring colored pencils if you have them. Otherwise, they will be provided. A journal or blank paper and pen or pencil is strongly recommended for the generative freewrites and other activities (instead of a laptop, tablet, or cell phone).

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Writing the Wild

Saturday, July 6

8 a.m. – 3 p.m

Do you feel overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape and wildflowers but aren’t quite sure how to express it? Do you have something to say about nature but nothing you put on paper seems to quite hit the heart of your feelings? Let the wild writer inside of you free! In this full day backcountry hike seize the opportunity to experiment with a variety of writing exercises to describe what you’re seeing or find the words to communicate with others about your passion. Find inspiration from contemporary nature writers and learn from their techniques on how to capture emotion. With the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.  


Regenerations - Art, Writing & Mindfulness in Nature

Saturday, July 13

8 a.m. – 3 p.m

To regenerate means to bring into renewed existence. This day-long “mini-retreat” from the modern world is a technology-free experience allowing you to sink deeply into just being in nature and re-establishing your connection to it. Through a backcountry hike into the wildflower-clad wilderness, slow down, tap in, take a deep look around you, and notice. Uncover your creative expression through a variety of landscape art, creative writing and mindfulness exercises designed to establish a relationship to place. Hear inspirational readings form nature writers and philosophers and engage in nature-oriented meditations. Instructors: Ivy Walker & Molly Murfee. With the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. 


Gunnison Valley Literary Festival: 

Friday, August 9 – Sunday, August 11

Rooting Into Place

Friday, August 9

8 – 10 a.m.

Begin the weekend from an inspired and relaxed, open and connected place! Register and pick up your nametag, to-go pastries and coffee, then set out for the woods. We’ll initiate the day with a slow saunter in nature, sipping in the place we are, heightening our awareness and loosening up our creativity through readings of dreamy poetry and exploratory writing prompts. Root down in the forests and fields to discover this mountain environment’s both flagrant and nuanced personas. What is it trying to communicate? To teach? What metaphors lurk in its elements? Bring your reusable to go coffee mug and small backpack to carry a journal, writing utensil, water, breakfast pastries and a warm jacket (as mornings are cool). This is a saunter, so only flat soled footwear is required – flip flops are fine (just leave the stilettos at home)! With the Gunnison Valley Literary Festival.


Creative Writing Taster Series – Nature Writing:

Saturday, September 7 & Saturday, October 5

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Connect with nature and your own personal creative expression by wandering blissfully through words in this half day outdoor immersion writing workshop. Tucked into a “backcountry classroom” readings from established nature writers inspire and inform your own style and demonstrate the world of possibilities while the surrounding forests, fields and streams stimulate the imagination and provide the content. Specially designed freewriting exercises help uncover your unique language for expressing your sentiments about nature. While experimenting with metaphor, word choice and descriptive techniques, you simultaneously hone your skills of observation and awareness. Explore your relationship with nature, and what the wild means to you. Participants may take one or both classes as topics and exercises will change. With the Literary Arts Department of the Center for the Arts Crested Butte.


Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

This is a fall course offering. Specific dates to be announced soon!

A field-based, graduate level immersive writing course for non-MFA degree seeking students. 3 credits available. CRWR 696
Writers from E.O. Wilson and Michael Pollan to Terry Tempest Williams and Robin Wall Kimmerer inspire how our culture defines and interacts with nature. This course introduces authors such as these, as well as the creative nonfiction genre. Examine major works of the genre and consider the history, culture, philosophies, and policies shaping them, as well as their real-world impacts. Through intensive freewriting, creative storytelling, workshopping, editing, and rewriting, learn effective techniques in descriptive, narrative, analytical, and persuasive writing. Strong emphasis is placed on developing a professional writing practice that supports scientific and other professional work. Designed for graduate students outside of the MFA Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Note: This course includes a field component in addition to "regular" class time.
Offered through the Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Nature Writing Concentration at Western Colorado University

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Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

An elective for non-Graduate Program in Creative Writing students who want to develop writing skills. An intensive genre-based survey of major approaches to Creative Nonfiction. Considers the subgenres of memoir, lyric essay, meditative essay, literary and cultural criticism and journalism, social, historical and political writing, travel writing, writing about science and technology, and other forms. Students read, analyze and imitate major works in each genre. CRWR 696 (3 credits). With the Graduate Program in Creative Writing: Nature Writing / Earth StoryCraft with Western Colorado University. 


Craft Your Bio 

Wednesdays, April 7 & 14

5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Get ready for the summer season and the increased web traffic of the times by crafting a compelling bio for use with websites, brochures, publications and other venues. Through instruction, guidance, exploratory creative exercises and research on existing effective and inspirational biographies, participants workshop aspects of their career into a cohesive and effective bio expressing their personal and professional endeavors. Supportive peer review from instructor and fellow participants provides valuable feedback. Additionally, learn basic requirements for choosing quality and size-appropriate photos for both digital and print outlets. Participants leave the workshop with a completed bio. Course takes place on Zoom.

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Creative Writing, Alternative Education & the Field Experience 

Wednesday, June 23 - Friday, June 25

8 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day

A graduate level, accredited course designed for secondary educators seeking their continuing education credits. 3 credits available. ENG 510


Get creative out in nature in this stimulating and active field-based writing course! Experiment with creative writing and the field experience as inspiring tools for gathering information, processing emotions, and finding a constructive, energizing and motivating outlet for interacting with the complex environmental and social issues of our time. Connect to the natural world through the combined use of a Creative Writing Portfolio and field experiences. Incorporate experiential education, student-centered learning and interdisciplinary studies into a traditional classroom. Explore the effective writing techniques of creative non-fiction focused on nature and the environment. Each day sends students out into nature to complete inspiring guided freewriting prompts and conduct independent research; then return in the afternoon for synchronous Zoom classroom time for sharing the writing experience, and thought-provoking author and teaching strategy discussions.


This is a fun, yet intensive, three-day course and it is not advisable to take other courses in the June 23 – 25 window. Students should block out Wednesday, June 23, Thursday, June 24 and Friday, June 25 for planned course activities from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day, and an expectation of completing readings in the evenings. Synchronous Zoom class time meetings will specifically take place from 2 – 6 p.m. each of these three days. Participants will participate in pre and post course work (predominately reading) approximately a week before and a week after the course with all assignments completed by July 3. While perfect for English, composition and the natural sciences, techniques can be applied to most any subject. 


Offered through Western Colorado University's Teacher Institute.

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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing:

Nature Writing  Concentration 

I am a faculty in Western Colorado University's Graduate Program in Creative Writing (GPCW) in the Nature Writing Concentration. The GPCW offers Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees with concentrations not only in Nature Writing, but in Publishing, Genre Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Ecopoetics. This low-residency program offers an ethically alert, cutting-edge program in an incomparable natural setting in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The program is established on the core belief that art can be an agent of change, that writing can change the way we live, our policies, and our values. Our practical focus on publication, professional development and partnerships with relevant nonprofits, newspapers, and think tanks underscores our belief that writers can participate in this field immediately and with gusto. Through extensive reading, intellectual inquiry, and rigorous professional and creative writing, students will engage with diverse voices, challenging questions and critical issues facing our world today. 

You begin the program with a Summer Residency in Gunnison, Colorado on Western Colorado University's campus meeting with your specific cohort as well as other cohorts and students in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

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Crested Butte Wildflower Festival

Come hike with me in the wildflowers July 8 - 17!

Wildflower hikes are one of my absolute most favorite things. I love the natural history, folklore, medicinal uses, and role in the ecosystem these bright blooms play. And you can learn all of these things too on a hike with me through the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. I'm leading half days, full days, easier saunters, and more difficult hikes to mountain passes. Click on the links below to find out more on individual hikes. You'll be taken to the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival website where you can register. 
Lily Lake Wildflowers: Friday, July 8. 8:30 a.m.  - 1 p.m. FULL

Splendor on Snodgrass: Saturday, July 9. 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. FULL

Wildflowers & Waterfalls of the Oh-Be-Joyful Valley: Sunday, July 10. 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. FULL

Lily Lake Wildflowers: Monday, July 11.  8:3o a.m. - 1 p.m. 1 SPOT LEFT!

Poverty Gulch & Daisy Pass: Thursday, July 14. 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. 1 SPOT LEFT!

Trail 403 to Viewpoint: Friday, July 15. 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. FULL

Scarp Ridge:
Saturday, July 16. 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Lily Lake Wildflowers: Sunday, July 17. 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. 1 SPOT LEFT!

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