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The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program announced the winners of a local school district student poetry competition: Kelly Stellmacher in the High School category, and co-winners Mikayla Ialeggio and Forest Olson in the K-9 category. Stellmacher will receive a $200 award, and Ialeggio and Olson will receive $100 each.

Stellmacher is a student of Emily Shoff of the Telluride Mountain School (TMS) and her poem is called “One Nod”. Ialeggio is a Fourth Grade student of Sue Hehir at the Telluride Intermediate School (TIS), and her poem is “The Light Blues.” And Forest is a Second Grade student of Cici James at the Telluride Elementary School, and his poem is “Watching the Stars.”

An awards ceremony was held Tuesday Jan. 14th at 4 p.m. at the Telluride Mountain School with readings by student poet winners, as well as those who received Honorable Mention in the contest.

View the winning and honorable mention poems by clicking on poem titles.

Honorable Mention winners are:

Delaney Spires, “To Write.” (Junior, Telluride High School, Bonnie Emerick)

Ruby McHarg, “No More Wolves.” (Frosh, TMS, Mary Hearding)

Gabriel Waldor, “A Reflection on the Human Condition.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Siri Shoff, “Where Does Santa Go?” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Charlotte Guest, “Shoes.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Ellery Welch, “Tucked Away.” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Jula Cieciuch, “Passion.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Breton Hampton, “Fire Fly.” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)

Lana Kenworthy, “Polar Bear.” (6th Grade, TIS, Caroline Farkouh)

Peter Calderon, “Snowstorm.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)

Rita Hynes, “Fire.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)

Miles Silbergeld & Finnegan Smith, “Inside a Snow Globe.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)

Abigail Pepper Tyson, “Turquoise.” (4th Grade, TIS, Jill Anderson)

In total there were 81 entries from high school juniors to a kindergarten student. View the winning poems and the honorable mention poems by clicking on the poem titles.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Bardwell Donachy Family Fund and help from Peter Waldor, Talking Gourds was able to initiate this student poetry contest this year. The intent is to make it an annual event.

Born in Telluride in 1907, Rella studied at the University of Rome, taught at Bennington College and eventually lived in New York City. As he explains it in the introduction to one of his books:  “My most exciting times as a child in the mining camp up near timberline in the Rocky Mountains were those when I would get my first look at some species of wild animal – right there before me for that breathless moment. The animal, each time, was to me so incredibly and intolerably real that as soon as it had darted off I could hardly believe I had seen it. But I also knew that this animal was to be in my head forever – fabulous and in precise detail, as if I had seen it through a telescope…

“My intense reaction to these sudden discoveries in some open patch in the woods way up above the town has always been related, for me, to my recognition of poetry. It is also, I am sure, deeply related to my interest in the theater – and more completely, to my particular attitude to life as a whole. It was all already there to be seen and felt in those open patches in the woods: the tension of the amazing revelation in the concentrated light – and the claustrophobic coming in upon the light from the dark and inscrutable periphery.”

Rella wrote a large body of plays in verse. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship and grants from the Theatre Guild and the National Foundation for the Arts.  His first play, Please Communicate, was produced in San Francisco. Later works, Sign of Winter and The Place Where We Were Born were off-Broadway productions in New York City.

As the two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz wrote, “Ettore Rella’s work is the courageous adventure of a rich and subtle mind through the labyrinth of our time.”

Student winners will be invited to read their poems at the Talking Gourds Poetry Club meeting that same evening, Tuesday, Jan. 14th at 6 p.m. at the Telluride Arts Gallery HQ across Pacific St. from the Wilkinson Public Library. Featured guest reader will be Eduardo Rey Brummel of Salida. The theme prompt for the evening will be “Snow.”

Our next featured reader will by Kyce Bello of Santa Fe on Feb. 11th (with a storm date of Feb. 18th if we get snowed out on the 11th).

For more information, contact Art Goodtimes at 970-729-0220, by text (no voicemail). Or

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Art Goodtimes says:

    We’re working on getting all the winning and honorable mention student poems up here at the Talking Gourds website.

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