Inspired by Silverton climber, skier, author and deep ecologist, the late Dolores LaChapelle, Talking Gourds has become a poetry program sponsored by the Telluride Institute. Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville are the co-directors.
Talking Gourds began in 1989 as a project of 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. For almost 20 years Dolores and Art, together with the poet Judyth Hill and the sculptor John Townley of New Mexico, held numerous wanderings in and around the San Juan Mountains to put bardic poetry into practice. Dolores passed away in 2007.
In 2012 Talking Gourds became a program of the Telluride Institute. Talking Gourds continues to sponsor multiple poetry projects:
- The Poetry Club brings regional poets to Telluride for monthly performance readings. Afterward, there’s a Gourds Circle where club members and guests are given a chance to share a poem, a song, or a few words;
- The annual Fischer Prize – a national poetry contest – commemorates artist Elaine Cantor Fischer and poet Mark Fischer of Telluride. Both were local champions of the arts;
- Talking Gourds sponsors the poetry component of the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, where the Fischer Prize is awarded and the bi-annual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection is made;
- Talking Gourds hosts special Guest Gourds readings for visiting poets at public venues and private homes around San Miguel County throughout the year.
- Talking Gourds hosts the MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival;
- Every two years Talking Gourds selects a Western Slope Poet Laureate at the Telluride Literary Arts Festival;
- Every two years Talking Gourds also recommends a San Miguel County Poet Laureate to the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners;
- Talking Gourds participates in various arts collaborations with other non-profits in Telluride throughout the year;
- For three years Talking Gourds hosted a Traveling Gourds Tour that brought visiting poets to venues around the Western Slope;
- A gallery of Posters of past events is available for viewing.
Talking Gourds events and programming are made possible by individual memberships in the Poetry Club, partner in-kind donations and generous private grants from the late Elaine Cantor Fischer, the Cantor family, an anonymous friend of Elaine’s, Institute trustee Audrey Marnoy of the Mountain Village, San Miguel County Poet Laureate emeritus Peter Waldor, Terry Tice of Telluride and Eduardo Brummel of Salida.
The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds program works in collaboration with various local and regional partners, including Telluride Arts, Between the Covers Bookstore, Wilkinson Library, Ah Haa School for the Arts, and Lithic Bookstore & Gallery. We also honor previous collaborations with Arroyo Gallery & Wine Bar, Cimarron Books, La Zona Colona Coffee, Wisehart Springs Inn, and the Montrose Regional Library.