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Talking Gourds is a local and regional poetry program of the Telluride Institute inspired by the late mountain climber, skier, and deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton. Over the past three decades the program has changed shapes several times as Art Goodtimes of Norwood together with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville have worked to promote platforms for poetry in San Miguel County, on the Western Slope of Colorado and across the state and the nation. In recent years Talking Gourds has become a program of the Telluride Institute. Art Goodtimes will be reassuming program directorship of all Talking Gourds projects.

– 2023 Winners & 2024 Entries –

Fischer & Cantor Prizes

Our flagship poetry projects, the Fischer and Cantor Prize contests, continued again last year, judging is complete and we have announced our 2023 winners. Submissions for the 2024 contests will be open April 1 to August 31, 2024. Please click below for further information and contest updates.

– Talking Gourds Poetry Gatherings –

Literary Events

Talking Gourds currently has three poetry series happening. Bardic Trails zoom series meets every month for an online gathering of words, wit, and wisdom and requires pre-registration. Our new live series, Stories & Poems, is happening in two locations: Norwood and Naturita. All programming is free and open to the public. Scroll down for event details.

Bardic Trails Schedule

  • First Tuesday of every month: 7:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom (pre-registration required)
  • An online community gathering of poets and poetry. Register each month to receive the Zoom link:  telluridelibrary.org/events.

Stories & Poems Schedule

  • Stories & Poems: Norwood starts at 6:00 pm at the Lone Cone Library on the third Wednesday of every month
  • Stories & Poems: Naturita starts at 11:00 am at the Naturita Library on the third Sunday of every month
  • A free live performance followed by a passing of the gourd, where community members are encouraged to share stories and poems, their own — or others’ that they know and like.

Poet Laureates

We successfully collaborated with San Miguel County in 2022 to appoint our sixth San Miguel County Poet Laureate, Joanna Spindler (2022-2024). We awarded the Western Slope Poetry Laureate title (2023-24) to Wendy Videlock.

– Telluride Mushroom Festival's –

Mycoluscious Mycolicious Mycological Poetry Show

The MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show  is an annual late-night tradition and part of Telluride Mushroom Festival, held on the third weekend in August.  Featuring regional and guest poets, for fungophiles of all types! 

– Free Giveaway with Donation! –

Support Poetry in Telluride

While we have moved away from a paid membership model, we encourage community donations, as Talking Gourds has been independently funded since 1989. Talking Gourds poetry programming is free and open to all without monetary barriers to entry, and we are deeply appreciative of anyone who wants to assist in the sharing of free resources with others!

By way of appreciation we would like to offer those who donate $50 or more a complimentary copy of LaChapelle’s last book Return to Mountain: Tai Chi Between Heaven and Earth (Hazard Publ. Ltd., New Zealand, 2002, $39.95). Please send your name, snailmail address and date of donation to shroompa@gmail.com after making an online donation.

Gourd Collaborators

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).

The Talking Gourds Advisory Board consists of  Sheldon Cantor of Charlotte (North Carolina), Joan Shapiro of Ridgway, Peter Waldor of Trout Lake, Daiva Chesonis of Norwood, Eduardo Rey Brummel of Salida, Kate Jones of Telluride, Lee Taylor of Lawson Hill, Mike Olschewsky & Ruth Duffy of Nucla, Ellen Metrick of Norwood, Danny Rosen of Fruita and Wendy Videlock of Palisade.

Click the icons below for info on individual programs:

Program History

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.

Joanna Spindler of Hastings Mesa is currently the director of the Talking Gourds poetry program, with Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa as Talking Gourds projects director.

Our current partners in lyric high crimes & misdemeanors include Daiva Chesonis of Norwood, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Programming and Revolution leaders at the Wilkinson Public Library; all of the wonderful staff at Telluride Arts; the delightful collaborators at the Ah-Ha School for the Arts; Kris Holstrom, Hilary Cooper, and Lance Waring at San Miguel County, and so very many more.

We are indebted to the Cantor Family, Wu Xing, current and former Telluride Institute board trustees, the Guttman Family Foundation, the Bardwell Donachy Family, and many other beloved donors.

We also honor previous collaborations with the Arroyo Gallery & Wine Bar in Telluride, Telluride High School, BlueCorn Cafe in Montrose, the Livery in Norwood, 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 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

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 many years Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville served as co-director of Talking Gourds with Art Goodtimes of Norwood. During this time, Talking Gourds 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 shifted form and have emerged in new and welcoming ways.

TALKING GOURDS NEWS & EVENTS

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Talking Gourds

Talking Gourds ‘Stories & Poems’ Series in Norwood

County Poet Laureate rescheduled at Lone Cone Library this month. Stories & Poems: Norwood is held on the third Wednesday…
February 12, 2024
Talking Gourds

Bardic Trails 2024 Series Meets First Tuesday of Every Month

Bardic Trails zoom series meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm for an online gathering of words,…
February 12, 2024
CommunitySpecial EventsTalking Gourds

A New Poetry Program in Naturita: Stories & Poems!

Naturita Library hosts Norwood’s Bob Mckeever for a new Storytelling Series! The Naturita Library has teamed up with the Talking…
February 7, 2024
Poet LaureateTalking Gourds

Esther Belin Durango’s First Poet Laureate

Congratulations to Esther Belin of Durango for being named the city's first Poet Laureate," said Talking Gourds Director Art Goodtimes.…
December 14, 2023
Fischer Cantor PrizesTalking Gourds

Sheetz-Willard Wins 2023 Cantor Prize

Jacob Sheetz-Willard of Leadville wins 2023 Cantor Prize. The Telluride Institute is happy to announce that Jacob Sheetz-Willard of Leadville…
December 5, 2023
Fischer Cantor PrizesTalking Gourds

2023 Fischer/Cantor Prize Winning Poems

The winning poems from the 2023 Fischer & Cantor Prize contests are published below. 2023 Judge Deborah Kelly of Boulder…
November 2, 2023

Need more information?

+ please contact Program Director, Art Goodtimes
shroompa@gmail.com

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