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6th Telluride Literary Arts Festival Features Eclectic Events for Lovers of Books, Reading, and Poetry
May 17-19, 2019

Writers, readers, and poets will gather in Telluride on the weekend of May 17-19 for the 6th annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival, aka LitFest. Between kids making books from scratch, a cerebral burlesque created by four regional women poets, the festival will pool a stunning collection of narratives and words into the valley. “LitFest is an opportunity to get together and celebrate the joy of reading and the craft of writing. Reading’s not just an ole fashioned past-time, it’s as fresh as you want it to be, you’re the driver.” says Daiva Chesonis, Between the Covers Bookstore co-owner and one of the original conspirators behind the event. Quoting American writer George Saunders, Chesonis agrees there is “a common architecture between the writer and the reader” and a gathering like LitFest is simply the drafting table that inspires and creates.

Tellurideʼs LitFest is cobbled together by a coalition of regional writers and literature-loving organizations and businesses, supporting—and sustaining—the literary arts. Its organizing entities include the Ah Haa School for the Arts, Between the Covers Bookstore, Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program, Telluride Arts, and the Wilkinson Public Library.

With an award-winning library, a thriving poetry scene that includes several resident Poet Laureates, an arts school that hosts writing workshops and a nationally recognized bookbinding academy—plus an indie bookshop that’s been serving the literary needs of the area since 1974—Telluride is a town that naturally embraces the literary arts.

All LitFest events are free with the exception of the infamous Literary Burlesque on Saturday, May 18, at the Black Box at the Michael D. Palm Theater, this year titled “Coming to Our Senses.” Tickets—available at Between the Covers Bookstore for $20—always sell out so don’t delay in securing your seats for this poetic trip through the senses, and not just the regular five. The ever-morphing troupe of regional women poets will, in their reveals, appeal to what makes us human, from the sensual to the nonsensical. New to the LitBurl stage will be Sound Therapist Steven Veillette, bringing vibrational frequencies of the gong. Also debuting in 2019 are members of the Telluride Dance Collective. In preparing a piece for the sense of touch, Burl Gurl poet Elissa Dickson is excited to share the storytelling stage with this group determined to “create a joyful, supportive community of dancers in Telluride by practicing and performing authentic, expressive movement.” A glimpse, a whiff, a tone, a taste, a caress … you’ll be touched.

For 2019, LitFestʼs Featured Author will be Pam Houston, currently touring with her new book, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Elk calves and bluebirds mark the changing seasons, winter temperatures drop to 35 below, and lightning sparks a 110,000-acre wildfire, threatening her century-old barn and all its inhabitants. Through her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, she explores what ties her to the earth, the ranch most of all. Alongside her devoted Irish wolfhounds and a spirited troupe of horses, donkeys, and Icelandic sheep, the ranch becomes Houston’s sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of horrific parental abuse and neglect. In essays as lucid and invigorating as mountain air, Deep Creek delivers Houston’s most profound meditations yet on how “to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief … to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive.”

Of the book, Nathan Deuel of the L.A. Times said, “… good writing can make you envious, no matter how foreign the terrain. Other times, you read a good memoir and find yourself wanting to track down the author and become friends. A third kind of book is so insightful and evocative, you shelve it beside other favorite and instructive titles. ‘Deep Creek’ might just do all three.”

Widely known for her earlier work, Cowboys are My Weakness, Houston teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. LitFest is thrilled to welcome her back to the Telluride valley on Sunday, May 19, at 7pm, at the Wilkinson Public Library.

Other signature events include a Kids LitFest Day at the library, a Poets Walk Up Bear Creek, a live recording of Emerging Form Podcast with poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and science writer Christie Aschwanden, a reading by current San Miguel County Poet Laureate Daiva Chesonis of 1903 Telluride-born poet Ettore Rella’s “Onorina Rudelat / Immigrant Woman” (with his grandnieces in attendance at Telluride Arts HQ!), the naming of the new Western Slope Poet Laureate and their celebratory poem, plus the annual awarding of the Fisher and Cantor Poetry Prizes. [The number of qualifying submissions for this year’s $1,000-$1,500 cash prize are being tallied; stay tuned for this usually astounding stat that will include from how many states submissions were sent.]

Speaking of poetry, the Featured Poets for 2019 are Rafael Jesús González, the Poet Laureate of Berkeley CA, and Luis Lopez, Professor Emeritus from Colorado Mesa University where he taught English, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Mythology. Both will perform during Spotlight Poetry at Liberty Bar on Friday, May 17, at 7:30pm. An openmic will follow so bring your words!

For the complete 2019 LitFest schedule and presenter bios, visit . For more in-depth poetry info, also visit . Facebook handle is Telluride Literary Arts Festival.

Featured Author contact, personal website, publisher website: / /

NOTE: Pam Houston’s book Deep Creek is available for review loan at the bookstore.

Click the image to see the full schedule:

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