Dec 032006
Authors: Geoff Johnson

Todd Simmons got naked in the Poudre River. Actually, he did it twice.

Along with 10 people the first time and 12 the second, Simmons was trying to raise awareness about what he said is an endangered Cache la Poudre River.

“Nudity works in this culture,” said Simmons, editor of Matter, a Fort Collins-based literary magazine.

Friday night at the New Belgium Brewing Company, about 200 others attended an event in honor of the release of “Pulse of the River,” a collection of poems and essays by Colorado writers in defense of the Poudre River.

Simmons contributed to the book in the form of an essay: “Death and Decay in the Poudre,” which is about a dead bear he and a friend found in the Poudre Canyon.

One of the book’s editors, Gary Wockner, said in addition to raising awareness about the book (the proceeds of which are going to the Colorado Water Trust), the event sought to “spread the word about dangers to the river.”

“We’re trying to get activists and advocates excited to protect the Poudre,” he said among vats of brewing beer and a growing crowd.

At the heart of the issue for Wockner, his co-editor Laura Pritchett and others in charge of the event was the proposed Glade Reservoir, a water body that could be complete as early as 2013 and would be slightly larger in size than Horsetooth Reservoir.

Glade Reservoir would be located about a mile north of Ted’s Place, near the intersection of US 285 and Highway 14, and would be filled with water diverted from the Poudre River.

The New Belgium event featured readings by four authors featured in the book. Introducing the authors, Wockner asked those in attendance, “What do you think of dams and reservoirs?”

The question was met with a resounding “Boo!”

Wockner then asked, “Do you think we should save the Poudre?”

The crowd roared affirmatively: “Yay!”

John Calderazzo, a creative writing professor at CSU, contributed to the book. He said the Poudre River is particularly close to him, both emotionally and physically. He lives less than a mile from it.

“I’m proud to be in this book,” he said. “It’s got a lot of good literature, and a lot of great activism.”

The free-beer-fueled crowd had to be quieted with what Pritchett referred to as “kindergarten tactics”: “Shhh!”

With the crowd a little quieter, Calderazzo read two of his poems published in the book: “Herons” and “Highway Flagman.”

After reading, Calderazzo said the poems are a departure from what he usually writes. “Usually, I’m traveling, going somewhere to find things to write about,” he said. “But these poems are based right where I live. (Writing the poems) was different for me.”

The evening also featured an installment of an ongoing documentary film project called “Drop by Drop,” by local filmmaker Bryan Simpson.

The film featured interviews with people in Northern Colorado who would, in one way or another, be affected by the construction of Glade Reservoir – including Simmons.

“Todd (Simmons) brought my attention to (issues surrounding the Poudre River),” Simpson said.

Of Simmons’ participation in the film-making, Simpson said, “He throws his energy into this. He’s a wonderful guy to be in the center of a thing like this.”

Sipping on a complimentary 2 Below Winter Ale, Simmons said, “I’m tired of (society’s) inability to see value in things that can’t be bought and sold,”

“I want to do things that matter,” he added. “I’m going to be a father soon.”

Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at

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