Talking Gourds: Late Summer/Fall/Winter Events

Late-summer into fall/winter, the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Club announces a period of poetry festivals, readings, workshops, and prizes, all popping up like mushrooms in the region. For example, Gourds c0-hosts Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Trommer are scheduled to appear at Intersect conference on “Consciousness” at Christ Church, August 11 – August 14. Art leads events on August 16 at Telluride Mushroom Festival, August 14 – August 18. Please scroll down for details.

Art & Rosemerry, co -hosts of Talking Gourds. Both are featured at upcoming Intersect conference at Christ Church.

The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program handed out its national Fischer Prize and statewide Cantor Award this past spring, and now is gearing up for an extensive summer/fall season of literary events.

Judge Rafael Jesús González, poet laureate of Berkeley (CA), chose Carlos Andrés Gómez of Forest Hills (NY) for his poem “C(h)ord” as the 2019 Fischer Prize first prize winner ($1000), and Renee Podunovich of Dolores (CO) for her poem “The Poet’s Broken Heart” as this year’s Cantor Award recipient for the best poem submitted to the Fischer contest by a Colorado poet ($500).

Finalists included Kurt Luchs of Kalamazoo (MI) for his “Tokyo Rose,” John Macker of Santa Fe (NM) for his “Happiness,” Rev. Donald Marbury of Rockville (MD) for his “Sunday Dinner,” Phyllis Klein of Palo Alto (CA) for her poem “A Compassionate Judge at the Veteran’s Court,” and Susan Browne of Oakland (CA) for her poem “Critical Thinking.” Each received $200.

Runner-ups got a Talking Gourds Club membership with its half-price entry to next year’s Fischer/Cantor contest: Greg Bell of Los Angeles (CA) for “Oración del Sueño Americano (Prayer of the American Dream), Jonathan Greenhause of Jersey City (NJ) for “Un Incendio Difícil de Traducir,” Albert Flynn DeSilver of Woodacre (CA) for “The Dolphins at Big Sur,” Devreaux Baker of Mendocino (CA) for “Finding Solace,” Robert J. Hejna of Ann Arbor (MI) for “Grandpa Frankie’s Notes,” Deborah Kay Kelly of Boulder (CO) for “Brother on the Bridge,” and Gwylum Cano of Edgwater (CO) for “Chat at the End of the Pier.”

In a new partnership, Talking Gourds has teamed up with the Gunnison Arts Center, the Crested Butte Center of the Arts, and Western Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing and co-hosted the first Gunnison Valley Literary Festival Aug. 9-11. The poetry component of the event featured an open mic, poetry performances, a couple of poetry workshops and the presentation of the Karen Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Achievement in Colorado poetry to Chris Ransick, former Poet Laureate of Denver.

Talking Gourds co-directors, Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer are presenters at the second annual Intersect Conference on Science & Spirituality at Christ Presbyterian Church in Telluride Aug. 11-14. This year’s theme is Consciousness. Art will lecture on Terence McKenna and Dolores LaChapelle’s perspectives on consciousness; Rosemerry will do a “play shop” and a poetry performance. For that schedule, go here.

Talking Gourds’ biggest summer event is the MycoLicious. MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show as part of the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival. That opens at the Sheridan Opera House on Friday, Aug. 16th, 9 p.m. A host of local and regional poets are scheduled to perform: Nathan Brown of Austin (TX), Sarah Pletts (Aspen), Danny Rosen (Fruita), Wendy Videlock (Palisade), Seven Stevens of Portland (OR), Ascentia Fox of Minneapolis (MN), Craig Childs and San Miguel County Poet Laureate Daiva Chesonis (Norwood), Charris Ford (Horsefly Mesa), Peter and Gabe Waldor (Telluride) and a host of others.

Following that extravaganza, former Marin County (CA) Poet Laureate Albert Flynn DeSilver will be in Telluride Aug. 22, 6 to 8 p.m., at the Telluride Library to offer a free writing and mindfulness workshop entitled “Writing, Truth and Community.” 

DeSilver is the author of the well-received “Writing as a Path to Awakening” (Sounds True Publishing, Colorado, 2017).  He teaches at Shambhala Mountain Center, the Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, 1440 Multiversity, and at writing conferences nationally. DeeSilver has spoken at TEDx and shared the stage with Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and many others. Find out more about him at

The Talking Gourds Poetry Club resumes its reading series in September, the day after Blues & Brews, with New Mexico poets Mary Oishi and her daughter Aja reading from their new Swimming With Elephants book, “Rock Paper Scissors.”

And local vocal a capella group Heartbeat is singing the blues on Monday Sept. 16th in Norwood at Million Miles Away and Tuesday Sept. 17th at the Telluride Arts  HQ Gallery across from the Library. Since 1996, Mary has hosted Albuquerque’s KUNM-FM “The Blues Show.” The theme for the reading will be (surprise) Blue.

In October, the 14th in Norwood and the 15th in Telluride, Marie Luna of Paonia will be the featured reader. The theme will be Growing.

In November, Gourds hosts two readings. On Nov. 5th Barbara Rockman of Santa Fe will be the featured reader at the Telluride Arts Gallery. Author of “Sting and Nest: Poems” (Sunstone Press, 2011), which won the New Mexico-Arizona book award, she teaches at the Santa Fe Community College and has a new book out: “to cleave” (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2019). The theme will be Going Home.

Nov. 18th in Norwood and Nov. 19th in Telluride, local poets Suzanne Cheavens, Joanna Spindler, and Steph Osan will share the spotlight. The theme will be Fall Colors.

The last reading of the year, on Dec. 16th in Norwood and Dec. 17th in Telluride, San Miguel County Poet Laureate Emerita Elissa Dickson will give a holiday show before she leaves for a six months sabbatical. The theme will be Time.


Inspired by San Juan Mountains climber, skier, and deep ecologist — the late Dolores LaChapelle, Talking Gourds is a poetry program sponsored by the Telluride Institute . Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville are co-directors.

The Talking Gourds program encompasses various projects in which it acts as lead agency or partner: the national Fischer Prize, the Colorado Cantor Award, the monthly Poetry Club, the occasional Guest Gourds, the biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection, the biannual San Miguel County Poetry Laureate recommendation, the annual MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, the annual Karen Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Poetry Achievement in Colorado at the Gunnison Valley Literary Festival and other projects. For more info visit the Talking Gourds site.

Gourds’ mailing address is: PO Box 160, Norwood, CO 81423.


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