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Cantor Prize winner Mark Oreskovich to kick
off new Bardic Trails poetry club Zoom series


TELLURIDE … At the urging of Joanna Spindler of the Wilkinson Public Library, the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program has joined with the library, Between the Covers Bookstore and the Telluride Arts District to host a new virtual poetry club gathering on the first Tuesday of each month this winter and spring.

A Covid-sensitive continuation of the popular Talking Gourds Poetry Club meetings, we’ve decided to call the online series, Bardic Trails, to distinguish it from our face-to-face gatherings, which we hope eventually to resume, post-Covid.

The first Zoom meeting takes place Tuesday, Jan. 5th, at 7 p.m. Register on-line at the Wilkinson to get URL & password.  Go to

This year’s Cantor Prize winner, Mark Oreskovich of Pueblo, will be the featured reader for the first half-hour or so, to be followed by a virtual Gourd Circle “open mic.” Club members will get preference for the pre-event sign-up sheet. For those who like writing prompts, Rosemerry suggests Adjust.

Happily married to his soulmate and guru, Oreskovich says he is “lucky enough to be the dad of two lovely brilliant daughters who teach him about what life has to offer outside of his own head.” In fact, he talks a lot about luck. “I’m lucky enough to have had, and to still have, people in my life who have given me undeserved love and kindness,” he adds.

While some writers feel compelled to be self-promoting and competitive in our materialist society, making their bios long lists of publications, awards and previous jobs, Oreskovich is a bit humbler. Calls himself, “A walker of dogs, a watcher of birds, a singer, a tamburitza player, a lover of poetry and all things guitar.”

He grew up in Pueblo. Moved to Pittsburgh and Chicago for many years. Now he’s back home in Colorado and writing about “love, death, and the beautiful things you might notice when you open your eyes and look around.”

This will be our first Talking Gourds Poetry Club Zoom gathering as Bardic Trails.

Joanna Spindler will run the Zoom meeting from the library, muting folks while Mark performs for 20 minutes or so from Pueblo. Participants can propose questions on the Chat function that can be enabled on the Zoom screen. For 10 minutes or so after Mark’s reading, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Art Goodtimes in Placerville will ask those questions of Mark.

Then the sponsors will make some brief announcements, like we usually do to start Talking Gourds. Finally, we’ll move to unmuting each signed-up Gourd Circle reader in order. Each will then get to read a piece of three minutes or less.

We’re hoping to keep Bardic Trails to an hour or just over to start, so we’d like to discourage time hogs. “I always like to say,” notes Goodtimes, “to keep the audience wanting more, do less.”

We’re initiating membership changes this year. A one-time donation of $25 or more gets one on our mailing list permanently and makes one current for one year. Memberships help support all we do. Each calendar year after that, to keep current, there’s a $10 renewal fee – payable online, as we are trying to minimize physical handlings during the pandemic.

Members in good standing receive a monthly pdf copy of Daiva’s handsome broadsides for each featured reader. According to Spindler, those pdfs can be printed for free at the Wilkinson. Chesonis will also have copies available for purchase at her Between the Covers Bookstore.

Current members also get preference for Gourd Circles, Guest Gourd readings and special workshops.

Our winter First Tuesday dates will be January 5, February 2, March 2, and tentatively April 6.

Inspired by the late climber, skier, and deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle and her Way of the Mountain philosophy, 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, Galaxy Dancer is our Administrator, and Brooke Shifrin is our high school graphic design intern.

The Talking Gourds poetry program includes a number of projects where it acts as lead sponsor or as collaborative partner with local and regional groups, although some are on temporary hold because of the Covid pandemic.  These include:

  • A national Fischer Prize and a state Cantor Award in poetry with $3000 in prizes
  • A seasonal monthly Poetry Club face-to-face with featured guest poets from around the region (on hold)
  • The annual MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival
  • The annual Karen Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Poetry Achievement in Colorado given jointly with Gunnison Valley’s Mountain Words Literary Festival
  • The annual Ettore Rella awards for Telluride middle & high school students (on hold)
  • The biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection (extended a year)
  • The biannual San Miguel County Poetry Laureate recommendation (extended a year)
  • The occasional unscheduled Guest Gourds performances (on hold)
Talking Gourds is indebted to generous contributions past and present from the Cantor Family of North Carolina, the late Elaine Cantor Fischer and her many friends, the Guttman Foundation, Peter Waldor, Audrey Marnoy, Joan Shapiro, Eduardo Brummel, Terry Tice, Daiva Chesonis, Elissa Dickson, Laura Colbert, Jess Newens, Judy Kohin, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Danny Rosen, Kyle Harvey, Kate Jones, Molly Daniel, Elodie Jacobson, Brooke Einbender, Austin Halpern, Jereb Carter, Elle Metrick, John & Maggie Metrick, Kyra Kopestonsky, Lee & Billi Taylor, Allyson Snyder, Kathy Green, Amy Levek, David Oyster, Michael Olschewsky, Ruth Duffy, Rick & Marty Hollinbeck, Vicki Phelps, Dean Rolley, Brooke Harless MacMillan, Chris Zieve and our many friends and Club members.


For more info, visit here.

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