Talking Gourds: Luis Lopez & Valerie Szarek, 10/24

The monthly Talking Gourds Poetry Tour begins at the Telluride Arts HQ Gallery at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24; moves to a new venue on Wrights Mesa outside Norwood at Million Miles Away, located at 1150 County Road Z42, starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25; appears at the Paonia Public Library beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26; and has its grand finale in Fruita, Friday, Oct. 27, in the Lithic Bookstore & Gallery at 7 p.m.

“Giving poets exposure to audiences in far-flung Colorado communities, and giving local audiences examples of performance poetry in action, has been the motivating impulse behind the Telluride Institute’s Traveling Gourds Tour,” explained Talking Gourds co-director, Art Goodtimes.

Following on the heels of a successful kickoff to the poetry program’s first Fall tour this year with Avon’s Jodie Hollander, one local Western Slope poet, Luis Lopez of Grand Junction, and one Front Ranger, Val Szarek of Louisville, share the spotlight as featured guest poets in Telluride, Norwood, Paonia and Fruita, Oct. 24-27.

Dr. Luis Lopez

“There have been a few adjustments to our schedule,” said Goodtimes. “We’ve moved our Norwood reading to Wednesday nights, while continuing Tuesdays in Telluride, Thursdays in Paonia, and Fridays in Fruita.

Again, the monthly Talking Gourds Poetry Tour begins at the Telluride Arts Gallery at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24; moves to a new venue on Wrights Mesa outside Norwood at Million Miles Away, located at 1150 County Road Z42, starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25; appears at the Paonia Public Library beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26; and has its grand finale in Fruita, Friday, Oct. 27, in the Lithic Bookstore & Gallery at 7 p.m.

Last month the theme for the evening was “Family.” This month is all about “Friendship.” Bring poems of others or one’s own on this theme to read at the Gourd Circle after the featured poet at the Telluride, Norwood and Paonia readings.

 Dr. Lopez is a professor emeritus from Colorado Mesa University, with a Ph.D. in Medieval English Literature. He taught English, Latin, Ancient Greek, Mythology, and was Director of the Academic Honors Program. A now-retired publisher, Dr. Lopiz has five books of poetry to his credit. “Each Month I Sing” won the American Book Award and the Colorado Independent Press Association Award for Best in Poetry in 2008. He also won a Writers Digest Award and his work has been published in numerous literary magazines.

Dr. Lopez’ most recent book is “More Musings of a Barrio Sack Boy” (Lithic Press, 2017). His other books include “Musings of a Barrio Sack Boy,” “A Painting of Sand,” and “Andromeda to Vulpecula: 88 Constellation Poems.”

Lopez is currently the featured poet in the on-line poetry anthology, SageGreenJournal.org. He lives in Grand Junction with his wife Maggie.

He is a sample of his work:

Gusto

I love to hear Enrique laugh and laugh because all the

neighbors can hear him!

I told Sara his wife, “Enrique laughs con tanto gusto.”

she said, “You mean with great gusto like in ‘gust of wind’.”

“No,” I said, “con tanto gusto like in goose.”

And she said, “No, like gust of wind,” because he was laughing

in English at Red Skelton.  If he was laughing at Cantinflas, then

you could say con tanto gusto like in goose.  He’s laughing in

English, not in Spanish.  So now when I hear Enrique laugh,

I remember how Sara corrected me and I don’t like to hear

Enrique laugh no more.

(from “More Musings of a Barrio Sack Boy”)

Originally from Michigan, Valerie Szarek has studied the craft of writing at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and The Summer Writing Program for the past 10 years and gratefully considers herself a lifelong student.

Valerie Szarek

Szarek’s voice and native flute are familiar at open mikes and festivals in the Boulder/Denver area as well as on the Western Slope. She has been a featured poet at the International Young Leadership Conference in 2013, at numerous Stage C performances, at the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale, and won 2nd place as the Ziggies Denver Poet of the Year in 2015 and 2017.

Szarek describes her poems as “human, political, and shamanic,” suggests they cross “between the seen and unseen worlds effortlessly,” and are “medicines for our world.”

She likes to sponsor drum circles and rituals around her medicine wheel in her back yard in Louisville. Her poem, “Letters to an Unknown God,” won 1st place in the National Poetry Federation Winner’s Circle and was a Colorado Author’s League Finalist.

Szarek’s first book, “Signs of Life,” (Breezy Mountain Press, 2014), received a Colorado Independent Press Association EVVY Award (named for the group’s first president Evelyn Kaye). As one reviewer wrote: “Lyrical, reverent, and giddy with paradox, this collection is fearless, an invitation to engage more wholly in the world.”

Other books  by Szarek include “13 Moons on Turtles Back,” “Gratuitous Beauty,” and “14 Days and Nights in Prague.”

Here is a sample of Szarek’s work:

I know this ground

that sprouts

berries and bees

I look up

to the sky

and think yes

we are stardust

most of what is

is unseen

like the stars below

not like mirror

but center

we call ourselves Earth

like we call our country

America

As though a name

defines us

In Telluride, we follow Poetry Club announcements and the featured performance with a short break. Then the gourd is passed and everyone has a chance to read a poem or two (their own, or one from a favorite poet that speaks to the theme).

For info on the Norwood reading, contact Daiva Chesonis at 970-729-2210.

For info on the Paonia event, contact Tara Miller at 970-527-6570.

For info on the Fruita performance, contact Kyle Harvey or Danny Rosen at 970-858-3636.

Following this tour, for the rest of the winter Talking Gourds reverts to just events in Telluride. And the Traveling Gourds Tour may end in March of next year with Jennifer Rane Hancock of Grand Junction, unless a source of permanent funding can be found.

 ADDITIONAL INFO:

Talking Gourds programming survives through the generous support of private donors and Club members.

There is a one-time fee of $25 to join the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. That makes you a full member for a year and gets you on our cyber mailchimp list for readings, festivals and contests. And it means that you are one of those generous supporters who believes in the importance of the arts on the Western Slope.

 A $10 annual renewal fee keeps you up to date as a full member, renews your subscription to our private email newsletter, and gives you half-price for Fischer Prize submissions and free Poetry Club broadsides.

 Talking Gourds Poetry Club, the Traveling Gourds Tour and Gourd Guests are collaborative projects of the Telluride Institute in partnership with the Wilkinson Public Library, Between the Covers Bookstore, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Lithic Bookstore & Gallery, Paonia Public Library, the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, Telluride Arts, the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and our club members.

Talking Gourds is indebted to generous contributions past and present from Audrey Marnoy, Peter Waldor, the late Elaine Fischer and her many friends, Daiva Chesonis, Elissa Dickson, Laura Colbert, Jess Newens, Judy Kohin, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Danny Rosen, Kyle Harvey, Craig Jackman, Kate Jones, Pepper Raper, Molly Perault, Art & Erin Wisehart, Tara Miller, Sam Brown, Elle Metrick, Craig Childs, Eduardo Brummel, Kyra Kopestonsky, Lee & Billi Taylor, Allyson Snyder, David Oyster, Michael Olschewsky and Ruth Duffy.

Call 970-729-0220 (voice or text, but no voicemail please) or visit the Gourds website talkinggourds.weebly.com for more info.

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