RESTRUCTURING: Under Construction

As the Telluride Institute is restructuring its programs, we too are going through changes. Rosemerry and Galaxy are stepping down, although both will continue on our Advisory Board. Emma Youngquist is being hired as Institute program director and Talking Gourds co-director with Art Goodtimes. She will handle most of the administrative duties and work with the Institute to bring the program’s procedures into line with their new protocols.

The Fischer and Cantor Prize contests are being separated rather than being joined, as they have been. Memberships are being discontinued, although donations will still be most welcome. A big thanks goes out to those who’ve been members – your support has been crucial in keeping this program going. In the future, those who donate $50 or more will receive a complimentary copy of Dolores’ last book Return to Mountain: Tai Chi Between Heaven and Earth (Hazard Publ. Ltd., New Zealand, 2002, $39.95).

The live Poetry Club readings in Telluride are on hold during the current Covid crisis.

Check the icons below for info on individual programs.

2021 Program Update

Updated information for 2021 Talking Gourds programming:

  • The Covid pandemic has forced some changes in our programming — putting a temporary hold on some projects, allowing us to go forward with others, and pushing us into some new ones. We’ve received some important grants that have helped sustain us, and we’re initiating a Membership Drive to carry us forward into the new year.
  • We had over 250 poets and 500+ poems submitted for both 2020 & 2021 Fischer Cantor Prize Contests. The 2021 winners have been announced on the Fischer Prize page and the winning poems may be viewed here. We will be accepting submissions for the 2022 contest in January. Donald Levering of Santa Fe was this year’s judge.
  • In January San Miguel County named Daiva Chesonis of Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride to a second two-year term as County Poet Laureate, as we recommended.
  • Also in January we initiated a new Bardic Trails Zoom meeting series on the first Tuesday of each month, featuring Fischer and Cantor Prize winners and finalists as featured readers. Free registration occurs on the Wilkinson Public Library website.
  • We continue partnering with the Center for the Arts in Crested Butte in awarding the annual Karen Chamberlain Award for lifetime achievement in Colorado poetry. The dates for the Mountain Words Literary Festival have been moved into the spring and will take place May 28-30, 2021.
  • We continue to offer Gourd Circles at the Crestone Poetry Festival (February 27-28, 2021) and the annual Headwaters Conference at Western Colorado University in Gunnison (fall of 2021)
  • Our Western Slope Poet Laureate L. Luis López of Grand Junction is continuing for an extended term. Website
  • Planning is underway for the MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the 41stannual Telluride Mushroom Festival (August 18-22).
  • Our monthly Poetry Club gatherings at the Telluride Arts Office & Gallery are on hold until it is safe to meet again face-to-face.
  • Our special Guest Gourds gatherings are on hold as well.
  • We cancelled this year’s local Ettore Rella Youth Awards for poetry and hope to reinstate them next year.
  • As part of our Membership Drive we’ve started a new category beyond the regular $10 a year sustaining membership for Gourditas y Gouditos, as we call our members. The Muse is one who donates $50 or more to the program. They will receive a copy of our program mentor Dolores LaChapelle’s last book, “Return to Mountain: Tai Chi, Between Heaven and Earth,” (Hazard Press, New Zealand, 2002).

2020 Program Update

Talking Gourds continues to sponsor multiple poetry projects throughout the year and also collaborates with various organizations.

Collaborators include the Wilkinson Public Library, Between the Covers Bookstore, the Telluride Arts District, the Ah Haa School for the Arts, San Miguel County, the Headwaters Conference (Western Colorado University), Mountain Words Literary Festival (Gunnison), the Center for the Arts in Crested Butte, the Crestone Poetry Festival, the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum (Grand Junction), and Lithic Press and Bookstore/Gallery (Fruita).

Learn more about our history and legacy below:

Inspired by the late mountain climber, skier, and deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle, her book, Sacred Land Sacred Sex Rapture of the Deep (Finn Hill Arts, 1989), spoke of bardic poetry as one of seven pathways to reconnect us to the earth. She called her walk of many paths the Way of the Mountain.

Talking Gourds began as a poetry festival in 1989 with Ethnopoetics as it focus and as special guests: Jerome Rothenberg, Anselm Hollo, Ann Waldman, Pierre Joris, Judyth Hill, Joan Logghe, and many others.

It changed shape several times as an annual gathering of wild poets, moving from Telluride to Faraway Ranch to Wrights Mesa to Windy Point on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Additionally, for almost 20 years Dolores and Art Goodtimes, together with the poet Judyth Hill and sculptor John Townley of New Mexico, held numerous other gatherings in Colorado and New Mexico to put bardic poetry into practice.

In 2013 the project came under the aegis of the Telluride Institute as the Talking Gourds poetry program.

Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville are co-directors of the Talking Gourds poetry program, and Galaxy Dancer is our administrator.

Our current partners in lyric high crimes & misdemeanors include Daiva Chesonis of Between-the-Covers Bookstore; Elissa Dickson, Laura Colbert and Sarah Landeryou of the Wilkinson Public Library; Molly Daniel, Brooke Einbender, and Kate Jones at Telluride Arts; Jess Newens, Kristin Kwasniewski and Judy Kohin at the Ah-Ha School for the Arts; Kris Holstrom, Hilary Cooper, and Lance Waring at San Miguel County; and Mary Hearding, Jacqui McCormick, Pamela Sante and Andy & Emily Shoff at the Telluride Mountain School.

We are indebted to the Cantor Family, Wu Xing, current and former Telluride Institute board trustees, the Bardwell Donachy Family and our Club members for their generosity.

We also honor previous collaborations with the Arroyo Gallery & Wine Bar in Telluride, Cimarron Books in Ridgway, La Zona Coffee in Colona, Wisehart Springs Inn in Paonia, Lithic Books in Fruita and the Montrose Regional Library.

The Talking Gourds program includes a number of projects where it acts as lead agency or as collaborative partner:

The monthly Telluride Poetry Club readings with featured guest poets from around the region

The annual national Fischer Prize for poetry with its Cantor Award for Colorado

The annual Mushroom Fest’s MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show & Open Myc

The annual Rella Awards for local student poetry

The annual Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Poetry Achievement in Colorado (awarded at the Gunnison Valley Literary Festival)

The biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection

The biannual San Miguel County Poetry Laureate recommendation

The occasional pop-up Guest Gourds performances for Club members

Our Poster Archive offers select Talking Gourds posters for sale

The former Literary Arts Festival, an annual gathering in Telluride to celebrate reading and writing

And other poetry Initiatives & Collaborations

Program History

Talking Gourds is a local and regional poetry program of the Telluride Institute that was inspired by the Silverton mountaineer, skier, independent scholar and wise woman, the late Dolores LaChapelle. In her magnum opus, Sacred Land Sacred Sex Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life (Kivaki Press, 1992), she identifies bardic poetry as one of the seven ways moderns can reconnect to the natural world. And the Gourd Circle practice that we use to share poetry stems from her research into the gourd as a primal symbol of partnership culture.

Talking Gourds grew out of the Telluride Writers Guild founded in 1979. Both Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer served as directors of that group and sponsored many poetry readings in Telluride and Norwood over the years.

For the past nine years Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville has been co-director of Talking Gourds with Art Goodtimes of Norwood. Galaxy Dancer of Santa Fe has been our administrator. We have sponsored many projects: Poetry Club live readings in Telluride, Norwood and the region, the national Fischer Prize in poetry, the Colorado Cantor Prize in poetry, the state Karen Chamberlain Award for poetry in collaboration with the Arts Center of Crested Butte, the Bardic Trails zoom poetry series in collaboration with the Wilkinson Public Library, the Western Slope Poet Laureate designation, the San Miguel County Poet Laureate recommendation, the annual MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the
Telluride Mushroom Festival, and the Ettore Rella youth awards. Due to Covid, several of the projects have been on temporary hold. Benefactors have included the late Elaine Cantor Fischer of Telluride and the Cantor family, local poet Peter Waldor of Trout Lake, local Audrey Marnoy of the Mountain Village, the Guttman Family Foundation, the Bardwell Donachy Family Fund, as well as our Talking Gourds Poetry Club members.



Fischer Cantor PrizesTalking Gourds

2021 Fischer/Cantor Prize Winning Poems

October 7, 2021
2021 Fischer/Cantor Prize Winning Poems (Click each poem title to see the poem.) Fischer Prize Winner Ja’net Danielo for "We…
CommunityFischer Cantor PrizesSpecial EventsTalking Gourds


October 5, 2021
Ja’net Danielo of California wins 2021 Fischer Prize Fischer Prize winner Ja'net Danielo The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program…
CommunityFischer Cantor PrizesSpecial EventsTalking Gourds

October Bardic Trails: Renee Podunovich

September 25, 2021
Renee Podunovich set to read at Oct 5th Bardic Trails Zoom poetry series Colorado writer Renee Podunovich will be the featured…
CommunityTalking Gourds

Anna Scotti will read for September Bardic Trails Zoom series

August 26, 2021
Acclaimed poet and fiction author Anna Scotti will be the featured reader at the Bardic Trails Zoom poetry webinar Tuesday, September…
CommunityTalking Gourds

Claire Blotter Performs in August Bardic Trails Zoom Poetry Series

July 27, 2021
Poet and performance artist, Claire Blotter, of California, will be the featured reader at the Bardic Trails Zoom poetry webinar Tuesday,…
CommunityTalking Gourds

Detroit Writing Room Awards Open & Writer Wednesday Features Fischer Prize Finalist A. Kaiser

July 5, 2021
2020 Fischer Prize finalist, A. Kaiser, of Brooklyn, NY was recently interviewed by the Detroit Writing Room for their "Writer…

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