“I Wouldn’t Be Here If It Weren’t for Jack Collom” by Jonathan Montgomery

Jack Collom passed away on July 2nd, 2017 at the age of 85.  Here’s a link to the Daily Camera’s write up on him 

I wrote the following acrostic for Ellie Swensson’s Turnout Zine this spring while taking Jack Collom’s final Eco Poetics class.  


I Wouldn’t Be Here If It Weren’t for Jack Collom


I don’t know why I went to Naropa’s Summer


Writing Program just before my senior year of college. I’m

Open to the idea The Mystical Forces of the

Universe drew me in. And outta some kinda divine

Luck I was placed in Jack Collom’s class, even tho I

Didn’t know anything about him. It ended up being

Nothing but writing games – acrostics, exquisite corpses,

Trade-offs. It felt like kidstuff, and I loved it. I


Belong here, I thought and applied for and

Enrolled in their MFA program that next year.


Here I am sitting in Jack’s class almost 15 years later for

Eco-Poetics at the Boulder Writer’s Warehouse, and he

Reads, with a magnifying glass, all the

Eskimo words for ‘snow’ out loud, and then his grey whiskers


Invite us to do do an acrostic poem, and it’s so

Fun. Everyone reads there’s out loud, and you feel an


Instant sense of community. All eight-

Teen of us are of such different ages and experience levels.


We have elders, middle aged, young adults, and

Even a child, yet somehow we can all

Relate with each other thru poetry and a common concern for the

Environment. I try to understand Jack’s teaching magic since I’m

Now a college professor myself, and I

Think it has to do with the


Fact that he never presents himself as some kind of master

Of poetry. In fact, he makes you feel like everyone is

Really already a master themselves. We


Just need a good prompt and form to play with,

And we’ll discover we’ve had all the instincts for poetry we need since

Childhood. Jack smiles at us. Jack laughs. Jack is just an old

Kid himself, and I


Can’t help but feel good around him. Now it

Occurs to me that my whole current writing

Life would not have happened without

Lucking out and getting his class all those years ago. The

Open mics and books and jobs community and love. So thank you

Mystical Forces of The Universe for drawing me to Jack!


Finally here are a couple of audio clips I recorded from his class this spring

  1. Jack reads all the Eskimo words for snow
  2. Jack reads his letter to the editor defending the environment 

And also a link to Marcus If’s article on Jack from 2016