"Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history." — Plato
Friday • May 19 • 5:30pm • Telluride Arts World Headquarters (across from the Wilkinson Public Library) 20th Fischer Poetry Prize Friday evening’s programming begins with the awarding of the Fischer Poetry Prize at Telluride Arts world headquarters, across from the library, at 5:30 p.m. Named for Mark and Elaine Fischer—two Colorado creatives and champions of the arts—Mark was a brilliant lawyer poet who died young, and Elaine his artist widow who went on to become Mayor of Telluride and a San Miguel County Commissioner for four terms (2000-2016). She passed away last Memorial Day weekend. Started in 1997, the Fischer Prize began with the Telluride Writers Guild and was sustained for many years by the Telluride Council on the Arts & Humanities (which became Telluride Arts) and Elaine herself in memory of her husband. Most recently, the award was re-energized and expanded by Art Goodtimes and the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program. What started as a $100 award for local poets moved to a statewide focus, then a regional Southwestern target audience, followed by a Western US scan and has now widened its scope, making the awards available to poets in the entire country. Over 350 submissions were uploaded in 2016. The prize comes with a cash award of $1,000 (plus a $500 travel stipend to cover the journey of the winner to Telluride to read their award-winning poem), plus five finalist awards of $200 each. In the quirky polyglot spirit of Mark, prizes are awarded to entries that best exhibit the qualities of originality, novelty, complex meaning, linguistic skill and wit. The wilder the better. The final judge in 2017 is Chris Ransick, Denver’s Poet Laureate emeritus. Submission deadline is April 22; poems can be submitted via the Talking Gourds website.
Friday • May 19 • 8pm • Liberty Bar Gourds Spotlight Poetry Performance: Aaron Abeyta That's Aaron top-of-page! Following a post-awards dinner break, poetry ramps up again at Liberty Bar at 8 p.m. with a performance by former Western Slope Poet Laureate Aaron Abeyta, winner of the Colorado Book Award for his poetry collection Colcha and recipient of a Colorado Council on the Arts fellowship for poetry. He is currently a professor of English at Adams State College and mayor of Antonito, Colorado, remaining close to his family and culture, both of which greatly influence his work. Before Aaron's reading, outgoing Western Slope Poet Laureate Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer will announce the new Laureate, who will present a few poems before it's all Aaron. An open mic will follow. Bring yer words.
ART GOODTIMES of Norwood CO Poet, weekly newspaper columnist and Rainbow Family elder, Art grows 25+ varieties of heirloom potatoes, weaves non-traditional coil baskets, and is serving his 5th term as Colorado’s only Green Party county commissioner. Poet-in-residence of the Telluride Mushroom Festival since 1981, founder and director of various Talking Gourds poetry events since 1989, poetry editor for the national mycological magazine Fungi, and co-editor of online poetry zine Sage Green Journal, Art served as the first Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope (2011-13). His most recent book is Looking South to Lone Cone: the Cloud Acre Poems (Western Eye Press, 2013).
ROSEMERRY WAHTOLA TROMMER of Placerville CO Having served two terms as San Miguel County’s first Poet Laureate and worked ten years as director of the Telluride Writers Guild, Rosemerry leads writing workshops for hospice, recovery programs, women’s groups, teachers, schools, writers groups and people who think they hate poetry, performs with a poetry troupe EAR, sings with an 8-woman a cappella group Heartbeat, and leads (for 15 years) a poetry discussion series. Her work has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, in O Magazine, on back alley fences, in her children’s lunchboxes, and on rocks she leaves around town. She won the ACC Writer’s Studio Poetry Contest in 2011 and 2013. Author and editor of thirteen books, her latest include Holding Three Things at Once (Turkey Buzzard Press, 2008) The Miracle Already Happening (Liquid Light Press, 2012), The Less I Hold (Turkey Buzzard Press, 2012). Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.
Poets Kyle Harvey, Art Goodtimes, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Eduardo Brummel, Danny Rosen ... and the man he's pointing at, Jack Mueller, hanging out and funnin' at the Talking Gourds Clubhouse AKA Arroyo Wine Bar AKA Telluride's Living Room.
The Talking Gourds Story
In 1989, the Telluride Institute sponsored the first Talking Gourds event in Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House which featured Jerome Rothenberg, Anne Waldman, Anselm Hollo, Joan Logghe, Judyth Hill and a raft of regional poets. Under the tutelage of skier, writer and deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle, the event moved through the ‘90s from in town to Faraway Ranch on Wilson Mesa and eventually to the Uncompahgre Plateau. The Sparrows Poetry Festival in Salida took over in 2000 as the focus for poetry in the mountains. For several years the Festival of Imagination flourished in Del Norte. Most recently, the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival brought poets from the Western Slope to Carbondale. But with that event’s folding last year, Telluride has reclaimed its poetry roots and is hosting a regional Western Slope poetry gathering once again. Plus, a new Headwaters Poetry Festival began this year at the Gunnison Arts Center in April, speaking to the renaissance of poetic energy in Southwestern Colorado.