Don Welch


“Nebraska has a treasure
of unsurpassed poetry and
it was written by Don Welch.”


– Dr. Jason Miller


“Don Welch was a Nebraska icon who inspired countless students.”


– UNK Chancellor
Doug Kristensen

Will you help us protect this treasure?

Don chose to keep his family in Nebraska even though that meant he received less national notoriety in his lifetime than he should have. Yet, from his home in Kearney, and the many classrooms in the Midwest in which he taught, he impacted countless lives.

Don Welch tapped deep into the land of Nebraska, and the living water that came out of his life continues to inspire and encourage.

We want to do everything we can to make sure Don Welch’s life’s work is appreciated and not lost to time.

Bringing Don Welch's poetry proper recognition.

This is a story of overcoming the obstacles of pride and selfishness, pursuing excellence in the face of apathy, and inspiring others to do the same.

Don Welch lived a poetic life. Deeply rooted in everyday disciplines, his transcendence is seen through the lens of the land he loved, the Platte and the plains of Nebraska. His ethics and philosophy are borne out in family and classroom.

Don Welch shows us how to pursue Beauty, Truth and Goodness in an era that is often tone deaf and vicious. His poetry helps us see the value in the people around us, the intrinsic and deep connection we have to nature, and the great privilege we have to use our minds well. Spending time with his work and teaching helps bring vividness to the “everyday” and helps make sense of the apparent chaos around us.

Don Welch’s poetry needs to be discovered and taught. His life and contribution to students in Nebraska needs to be an inspiring example to all of us. It flows from the stream of the best thinkers and writers from the past and can help remind us what it means to aspire to the best we can be.

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We can't let years go by until people start understanding the contributions of a poet like Don Welch.

- Dr. Jason Miller

Plain Sense Movie:


Beauty Truth & Goodness

With Poetry Art & Philosophy

Expanding Don Welch’s legacy
with the craft of filmmaking.

Plain Sense is an ambitious documentary film project that aims to celebrate and advance the work of Don Welch by weaving his poetry and teaching throughout the narrative of his life.

The project is ambitious because, in order to do justice to the poetic and philosophic heights Don reached, the production needs to inspire and transport, it needs to resonate and engage the imagination. In short, it needs to be poetic.

We believe that Don’s way of humble excellence, in his craft of poetry, and deep connection with people and place, is something that our culture needs to rediscover and fight to retain.

Borrowing from the title of Don’s book “The Plain Sense Of Things” the Plain Sense Movie aims to continue Don’s life’s work. It seeks to help people see the Beauty, Truth, and Goodness that is right in front of them… if they are willing to take the time to see it and cultivate it.

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    Main Production


    Archive Footage


    Rough Edit


    Secondary Production


    Finish Edit




    1 CREATE

    Our first priority is to have something worth sharing. Don Welch has led the way with a body of remarkable work. We intend to honor Don’s work by creating something that continues his legacy.


    The film project will be partnering with the growing Don Welch Archive. Interviews and Segments from our production will be available as teaching aids.


    We are going to spread awareness by trailers, online progress, launch events, film festivals, etc. We believe Don Welch’s message will change people’s lives and we hope to spread it as far and wide as possible.


    The ultimate goal of this film project is to achieve distribution far and wide. We will be pursuing Netflix, Hulu, Public Television, etc. We may also look at self distribution options like Vimeo On Demand or YouTube.

    *NOTE a portion of any distribution deal will go to the Don Welch Family Scholarship Fund.

    Behind The Scenes



    Tory & Annie Hooton


     *Grateful Students of Don Welch

    My Wife Annie and I (Tory) had the great fortune to be able to take Don Welch’s “Philosophy of Poetry” class. Don was technically retired but still teaching in the philosophy department at UNK. His teaching has likely done more to influence our craft than any other class. Don was able to connect all that we were learning about as Philosophy students to rhyme and meter, imagery and resonation.

    We have translated his passion for the techne of poetry into our own craft of filmmaking. We have been able to find meaning in the small aspects creating videos like exact edit placement, pacing with music and the nuance of light. Connecting these small elements to the larger framework of Philosophy (or the ultimate goal of the film) brings about something much greater than the sum of all parts.

    Welch taught in a way that drew the poet out of his students. He showed us how the mundane elements of craft, when seen in the light of the eternal and polished with artistic effort, can lift our heads to the clouds while simultaneously rooting us to the earth.

    When we started our production company, Red Orchid Productions, back in 2008 our goal was to create art and redeem marketing.

    For over 10 years we have honed our craft making videos for non-profits and businesses always striving to connect with the poetic.

    Plain Sense Movie for us is a project of passion. My wife and I have committed to do this documentary with all the artistry and effort it deserves. This has meant that we have matched in personal effort the generosity of donations. For a man that poured his life out for his students, and labored over words and meter, nothing but art can capture his life.

    In striving for excellence we can both follow Don’s example and say thank you for his influence.

    ~ Tory & Annie Hooton