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Thanks to a generous donation from Elaine Cantor’s family, this year the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds program will add a $500 Cantor Award to its national Fischer Prize contest for the best poem by a Colorado poet.

Judge for the contest will be Santa Fe Poet Laureate emerita Joan Logghe, one of the founders of New Mexico’s Tres Chicas Press. And the Cantor Award will be presented at the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, May 18-20, in Telluride.

“Since Elaine was such a champion of the arts in Colorado,” said Talking Gourds co-director Art Goodtimes, “we wanted to reward Colorado poets with a special incentive to participate in the Fischer Prize.

The award will be in addition to the national competition’s $3000 in prizes and travel allowances. A Colorado poet winning one of the national prizes — $1,000 first place and five $200 finalist award – will receive $500 in addition to the national awards. If no Colorado poet places in the national competition, the best poem submitted by a poet residing in Colorado will win the Cantor Award separately.

For over 20 years, Telluride has held a Fischer Prize contest in honor of attorney/poet Mark Fischer, who died in 1987 [CE]. And three years ago his wife, politician/painter Elaine Cantor Fischer, passed away as well. The Fischer Prize, and now the Cantor Award, are given in memory of these two beloved members of the arts community in San Miguel County.

For contest rules visit <>. Contest deadline is May 1, 2018 [CE].


Inspired by San Juan Mtns climber, skier, and deep ecologist — the late Dolores LaChapelle, Talking Gourds is a poetry program sponsored by the Telluride Institute <>. Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville are co-directors.

The Talking Gourds program encompasses six projects where it acts as lead agency or partner: the national Fischer Prize, the monthly Poetry Club, the occasional Guest Gourds, the biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection, the annual MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and the annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival.

Our current Western Slope Poet Laureate is Dr. David J. Rothman of Crested Butte, Colorado Public Radio’s poet-in-residence.

After three years, our Traveling Gourds Tour of the Western Slope was cancelled due to admin demands that overwhelmed our volunteer staff. But we will continue our Guest Gourd series in April with national slam poet and California poet-in-the-schools performer/teacher Claire Blotter. We’re planning to bring her to Colorado for readings at Telluride Arts Gallery in Telluride and Lithic Bookstore & Gallery in Fruita, as well as workshops for youth at local schools in Grand Junction, Telluride and Norwood.

The Talking Gourds Poetry Club will have Colorado Mesa University professor and poet Jennifer Rane Hancock of Grand Junction as featured reader March 27 at 6 p.m. at the Telluride Arts offices across from the Wilkinson Library.

May 18-20 are the dates for the Telluride Literary Arts Festival with Craig Childs of Naturita Canyon as featured fiction writer and Esther Belin of Durango, along with CMU professor/poet John Nizalowski, as featured poets. The Fischer Prize and the Cantor Award will be presented at the festival.

Then, after taking our usual summer break, except for the annual MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Sheridan Opera House on Saturday, Aug. 18th, at 9 p.m., we will continue our regular fall Poetry Club series with Kathleen Cain of Denver followed by Elle Metrick of Norwood.


Talking Gourds programming survives through the generous support of private donors and Club members.

There is a one-time fee of $25 to join the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. That makes a person a permanent gourdita o gourdito and qualifies one as a full member in good standing for a year. There’s a cyber list available to all members for announcements of readings, festivals and contests.

“Helping Talking Gourds means that you are one of those generous supporters who believes in the importance of the literary arts on the Western Slope,” said Goodtimes.

A $10 annual renewal fee keeps one up-to date as a full member after the first year grace period.

Full members only have to pay half-price on all Fischer Prize contest fees. And up-to-date full membership gives one free Poetry Club broadsides when in attendance at Club meetings.

Talking Gourds Poetry Club, the Traveling Gourds Tour and Gourd Guests are collaborative projects of the Telluride Institute — in partnership with the Wilkinson Public Library, Between the Covers Bookstore, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Lithic Bookstore & Gallery, the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, Telluride Arts, the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and our club members.

Talking Gourds is indebted to generous contributions past and present from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, the Cantor Family, the late Elaine Fischer and her anonymous friends, Peter Waldor, Gabe Waldor, Audrey Marnoy, Eduardo Brummel, Vicki Phelps, Dean Rolley, Daiva Chesonis, Laura Colbert, Elissa Dickson, Jill Wilson, Jess Newens, Kris Kwasniewski, Judy Kohin, Danny Rosen, Kyle Harvey, Craig Jackman, Sean Murphy, Kate Jones, Molly Perault, Meg Nagel, Tara Miller, Sam Brown, Elle Metrick, Scott Doser, Craig Childs, Kyra Kopestonsky, Lee & Billi Taylor, Allyson Snyder, Amy Levek, Sus & Clint Viebrock, David Oyster, Michael Olschewsky, Ruth Duffy, y todas las gourditas y gouditos.

Call 970-729-0220 (voice or text, but no voicemail please) or visit the Gourds website <> for more info.

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