Literary & Writing Arts

What are the Literary Arts?

The literary arts involve artistic works that use written words and language. This category of art includes books, short stories, essays, and poetry. These artforms are often part of our everyday lives as letters, newspaper articles, and other creative expressions describing experiences, feelings, and/or various perspectives.


While we are further developing our efforts in the literary arts, currently we focus on one literary event annually. Future plans include classes, readings, and other activities to assist residents in experiencing literary works and developing their own creative expressions.





An anthology is a compilation or collection of literary works that can be of the same genre and/or the same author and/or the same theme and/or disparate in nature.

The Sanders County Arts Council chose “Anthology” as the title of their literary arts efforts to highlight inclusivity for all types writing.  Long-term strategies include sharing the works of published authors and promoting the creativity of local writers.


Our Valley Is...

A Poem by Residents of Sanders County, Montana
In Collaboration with Melissa Kwasny Montana Poet Laureate

Photo by Rudi Boukal

The Origin of
"Our Valley Is..."

On February 15, 2020, Montana Poet Laureate Melissa Kwasny visited Sanders County to share her creative process and her poetry.


The event was a collaboration between Humanities Montana and the Sanders County Arts Council.

As part of her presentation, Melissa highlighted how poetry brings focus to what we experience and how our senses reveal those experiences to us in unique, personal ways.

She asked the group of participants to offer suggestions for a poetic refrain for a poem about the Clark Fork River Valley. From suggested refrains, the one chosen was “Our valley is...”

Melissa asked each participant to write phrases to follow the refrain describing how their senses reveal to them the Clark Fork River Valley in which we all live.

After sharing phrases with tablemates, each small group submitted four or five of the most descriptive phrases as contributions to this unedited poem.

Melissa read the collection of phrases and the response from participants was one of awe at how the phrases came together and described this amazing place, touched everyone’s emotions, and created a special, shared experience.

We felt the power of this poem was an important contribution to our collective experience of Montana and this beautiful valley. So, we (the community poets who created this poem) share it with you as a tribute to where we live and to the creative spirit in each of us waiting to be heard.

Our valley is...
the smell of pine trees lingering in the morning mist
the river’s flow like liquid emeralds
the mysterious song of a loon and the distant response of its mate

smell of fresh baked bread on the kitchen counter

Our valley is...
river rushing over the rock dam in spring
sound of intense lightning during a spring thunderstorm

the crackle of a cooling crust on a loaf of bread

discordant music resolving
the mother doe brings her fawn to share with me


Our valley is...
the peaceful fragrance of gardenias, a babbling brook

pines whispering in the wind
the loud quiet of the mountains
the taste and feel of fresh huckleberries


Our valley is...
the sound of the trail ride, hooves on the dirt
the sound of grouse wings, the meadowlarks in the distance

the smell and sound of the rain
ombre of pink, purple, blue sunrise and sunset


Our valley is...
the sound of loons landing on water as one flapping wing

curly lime green moss on the fence posts
tapping of pileated woodpeckers deep in the forest
the depth over the bench outlook


Our valley is...
the smell of burning brush on a fall day
the comfort of river mud enveloping old cold hands

patches of fog and mist on a mountainside
the sight of a solitary eagle soaring overhead
watching the harvest moon climb over the mountain top


Our valley is...
the sound of the loud train blaring; the weight shaking the town

snow on the mountains
tasting chocolate brownie fudge ice cream
smelling the clear air of early fall
the warming feeling of friends around a fire


Our valley is...
the terrifying big sky of stars
surrendering to the pace of the river
lunatic calls of geese on full-mooned nights
the trailing V’s of dabbling ducks as they scurry in liftoff


Our valley is...
the taste of hand-to-mouth huckleberries on the summer trail

birdsongs overlapping at dawn
a gravel path felt on the soles of my feet
the crackle of river ice, a conversation of “yard” crows


Our valley is...
sound of wings slicing through the air
glow of full moon through bare winter branches

otters, beavers, muskrats swimming in the aqua water

I reach out, but they move stately away


Our valley is...
the hardness of the rocks under my boots
the coolness of the river water as I float in summer
the jagged cliff along the river and the feel of sand on my feet

both telling of the draining of the ancient lake


Our valley,
the Clark Fork River Valley,
the last best place in the last best place!