The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program is proud to announce that poet Wendy Videlock of Palisade has won this year’s Cantor Prize. Two finalists were also announced: David Feela of Cortez and José A. Alcántara of Carbondale. Videlock receives a $500 cash award and Feela and Alcántara $100 each.
Judge Anna K. Scotti of California had this to say about Videlock’s winning poem, “Ode to the Slow” which first appeared in the Hopkins Review: “This beautiful poem is deceptively simple, using repetition, internal rhyme, assonance, and alliteration to paint a gorgeous portrait of the high desert. The impossibly slow passage of time is juxtaposed with the immediacy of the speaker’s world, portrayed only in the first and last lines.”
Regarding Feela’s “My Father Retires,” Scotti noted this poem “shows us what a talented poet can achieve using very few words — a bittersweet acknowledgement of a parent’s mortality, illustrated by an old man’s daily nap in a reclining chair in which he ‘levitates/like a magician.’”
Finally, Scotti explained that Alcántara’s poem “To a Friend Who Does Not Believe in God” is “a surprise from beginning to end, packed with cultural references ranging from the saccharine (‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’) to the classical (‘…when the Furies stopped their gorging’) as the poet illustrates the relief religious faith grants an old woman in extremis.”
The Cantor Prize is named for the late Telluride painter, mayor and county commissioner Elaine Cantor Fischer who was a great supporter of the arts. For many years she sponsored the Fischer Prize in honor of her late husband, the brilliant lawyer, poet and polyglot Mark Fischer. Since Elaine’s passing and with the support of her family, the Cantor Prize has been part of the Fischer Prize contest. This is the first year where the Cantor Prize stands alone as an award for Colorado poets and poets writing about Colorado.
Videlock’s poems, reviews, and essays appear widely, most notably in Poetry, O Magazine, Hudson Review, Best American Poetry, Rattle and The New York Times. Her most recent books are Wise to the West (Able Muse Press) and The Poetic Imaginarium, a collection of essays and poems on language, landscape and the imagination (Lithic Books).
Feela is a retired teacher, columnist, poet, and all-around quirky person who has made Montezuma County his home since 1982.
Alcántara has worked as a bookseller, mailman, commercial fisherman, electrician, baker, carpenter, studio photographer, door-to-door salesman, and math teacher. He is the author of The Bitten World: Poems (Tebot Bach, 2022). His poetry has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and the anthologies, The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy and America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience. His poem “Divorce” won the 2021 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle.