Do you know what a “squibble” is? Don’t try looking it up. “Squibble” is not in the dictionary. It’s a made-up word Mark Fischer used to describe his rather esoteric (read: eccentric) brand of poetry that was a Rorschach for his Energizer Bunny kind of mind.
You see, Mark Fischer was no ordinary man. The Yale, Harvard, Stanford-educated lawyer – he covered all the ivy bases there, no? – practiced law in Telluride in the 1980s, but he also loved to ski and hike. He was a glider pilot, who played the flute, and Yoga master, who wrote a book on the subject. Mark Fischer spoke five languages fluently and translated philosophical treatises from German, Latin, and Greek into English. And then, in his spare time, he wrote squibbles.
Mark’s widow, now county commissioner and artist, Elaine Fischer (and clearly no slouch in the talent department her own self) described her husband this way:
“Mark was the hippie itinerant scholar and I was the young artist who followed him to town,” she explains.
Telluride Arts’ Mark Fischer Poetry Prize was started by Talking Gourds Brand Poohbah/county commissioner Art Goodtimes in 1997 to honor Mark’s memory. It is sustained by Elaine and the Fischer family. The 14th annual Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, produced by Telluride Arts, takes place Thursday, May 31, 6 p.m., The Steaming Bean.
Prizes are awarded to the entries that best exhibit the qualities of originality, novelty, complex meaning, linguistic skill and wit. The wilder the better. Last year’s winner is this year’s judge: Kierstin Bridger, whose street cred for the daunting job is well established.
Kierstin holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Washington and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Pacific University in Oregon. Her poetry can be found online at the Copperfield Review, Thrush Literary Journal, OccuPoetry, Telluride Watch, and The Mountain Gazette. She has forthcoming award winning poetry in the June issue of Memoir (and). She was a finalist for 2011 Haiku Year in Review by Broadsided Press. Her short fiction can be found in “The Porter Gulch Review,” Smith magazine’s “6 Words about Work, “Bricolage, Stripped: A Collection of Anonymous Flash Fiction” edited by Nicole Monaghan, and at the best of Nail Polish Stories, a tiny and Colorful Literary Journal. Kierstin, we are proud to say, is also regular contributor to “Telluride Inside… and Out.”
From the 100s of poems submitted this year, Kierstin picks for the 2012 Prize – cue drumroll – are:
1st place: “Psalm 656,” Wayne Lee, Santa Fe
2nd place: “Apotheosis,” Julie Shavin, Colorado Springs
3rd place: “Failte Eire,” by Beth Paulson, Ouray
4th place: “Putting Away the Cutlery,” by Ellen Metrick, Norwood
Ellen Metrick is a local favorite. She is editor, journalist and photographer for The Norwood Post, teaches children’s theater at The Livery in Norwood, and is the current San Miguel County Poet Laureate. Ellen also teaches leads workshops around the region, sometimes co-facilitating with the county’s first poet laureate, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Her newest book is “Teasing out the Divine” (Mercury HeartLink, 2012), available at Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride.
The Mark Fischer Poetry Prize: Miss America for Poets – minus the bathing suits and tiaras.
Now there’s a thought totally in line with Mark Fischer’s wonderfully twisted mind…
To learn more about Kierstin and how she went about selecting this years winners and honorable mentions, click the play button. For a teaser about what’s in store on Thursday night, listen to Ellen reading her winning poem.