Poetry festivals, readings, workshops, prizes popping up like mushrooms in the region
The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program handed out
its national Fischer Prize and statewide Cantor Award this past spring, and now
is gearing up for an extensive summer/fall season of literary events.
Judge Rafael Jesús González, poet laureate of Berkeley (CA), chose Carlos Andrés
Gómez of Forest Hills (NY) for his poem “C(h)ord” as the 2019 Fischer Prize first
prize winner ($1000), and Renee Podunovich of Dolores (CO) for her poem “The
Poet’s Broken Heart” as this year’s Cantor Award recipient for the best poem
submitted to the Fischer contest by a Colorado poet ($500).
Finalists included Kurt Luchs of Kalamazoo (MI) for his “Tokyo Rose,” John Macker
of Santa Fe (NM) for his “Happiness,” Rev. Donald Marbury of Rockville (MD) for his
“Sunday Dinner,” Phyllis Klein of Palo Alto (CA) for her poem “A Compassionate
Judge at the Veteran’s Court,” and Susan Browne of Oakland (CA) for her poem
“Critical Thinking.” Each received $200.
Runnersup got a Talking Gourds Club membership with its half-price entry to next
year’s Fischer/Cantor contest: Greg Bell of Los Angeles (CA) for “Oración del Sueño
Americano (Prayer of the American Dream), Jonathan Greenhause of Jersey City (NJ)
for “Un Incendio Difícil de Traducir,” Albert Flynn DeSilver of Woodacre (CA) for
“The Dolphins at Big Sur,” Devreaux Baker of Mendocino (CA) for “Finding Solace,”
Robert J. Hejna of Ann Arbor (MI) for “Grandpa Frankie’s Notes,” Deborah Kay Kelly
of Boulder (CO) for “Brother on the Bridge,” and Gwylum Cano of Edgwater (CO) for
“Chat at the End of the Pier.”
In a new partnership, Talking Gourds has teamed up with the Gunnison Arts Center,
the Crested Butte Center of the Arts, and Western Colorado University’s Graduate
Program in Creative Writing to co-host the first Gunnison Valley Literary Festival
The poetry component of the event will feature an open mic, some poetry
performances, a couple poetry workshops and the presentation of the Karen
Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Achievement in Colorado poetry to Chris Ransick,
former Poet Laureate of Denver. For more information, visit here.
Talking Gourds co-directors, Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer will
both be presenters at the second annual Intersect Conference on Science &
Spirituality at Christ Presbyterian Church in Telluride Aug. 11-14. This year’s theme
is Consciousness. Art will lecture on Terence McKenna and Dolores LaChapelle’s
perspectives on consciousness, while Rosemerry will do a “playshop” and a poetry
performance. For the schedule, click here.
Talking Gourds’ biggest summer event is the MycoLicious. MycoLuscious
MycoLogical Poetry Show as part of the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival. That
opens at 9 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House on Friday, Aug. 16 th . A host of local and
regional poets will perform, including Nathan Brown of Austin (TX), Sarah Pletts
(Aspen), Danny Rosen (Fruita), Wendy Videlock (Palisade), Seven Stevens of
Portland (OR), Ascentia Fox of Minneapolis (MN), Craig Childs & San Miguel County
Poet Laureate Daiva Chesonis (Norwood), Charris Ford (Horsefly Mesa), Peter and
Gabe Waldor (Telluride) and a host of others.
Following that extravaganza, former Marin County (CA) Poet Laureate Albert Flynn
DeSilver will be in Telluride Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Wilkinson Library to
offer a free writing and mindfulness workshop entitled “Writing, Truth and
Community.” DeSilver is the author of the well-received Writing as a Path to
Awakening (Sounds True Publishing, Colorado, 2017). Albert teaches at Shambhala
Mountain Center, the Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, 1440 Multiversity, and at
writing conferences nationally. He has spoken at TEDx and shared the stage with
Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and many others. You
can find out more about him at www.albertflynndesilver.com.
The Talking Gourds Poetry Club resumes its reading series in September, the
day after Blues & Brews with New Mexico poets Mary Oishi and her daughter Aja
reading from their new Swimming With Elephants book, Rock Paper Scissors. And
local vocal acapella group Heartbeat doing some blues.
Monday Sept. 16th in Norwood at Million Miles Away and Tuesday Sept. 17th at the
Telluride Arts Gallery across from the Wilkinson Library. Since 1996, Mary has hosted
Albuqerque’s KUNM-FM “The Blues Show.” The theme for the reading will be (surprise) Blue.
In October, the 14 th in Norwood and the 15th in Telluride, Marie Luna of Paonia will
be the featured reader. The theme will be Growing.
In November we will have two readings. Nov. 5th Barbara Rockman of Santa Fe will
be the featured reader at the Telluride Arts Gallery. Author of Sting and Nest: Poems
(Sunstone Press, 2011), which won the New Mexico-Arizona book award, she
teaches at the Santa Fe Community College and has a new book out: to cleave (Univ.
of New Mexico Press, 2019). The theme will be Going Home.
Nov. 18 th in Norwood and Nov. 19 th in Telluride, local poets Suzanne Cheavens,
Joanna Spindler, and Steph Osan will share the spotlight. The theme will be Fall
And for our last reading of the year, on Dec. 16th in Norwood and Dec. 17th in
Telluride, San Miguel County Poet Laureate Emerita Elissa Dickson will give a
holiday show before she leaves for a six months sabbatical. Theme will be Time.
Inspired by San Juan Mountains 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 various projects where it acts as lead
agency or partner: the national Fischer Prize, the Colorado Cantor Award, the
monthly Poetry Club, the occasional Guest Gourds, the biannual Western Slope Poet
Laureate selection, the biannual San Miguel County Poetry Laureate
recommendation, the annual MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show
at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, the annual Karen Chamberlain Award for
Lifetime Poetry Achievement in Colorado at the Gunnison Valley Literary Festival
and other projects. For more info visit here.
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