Tag Archives: Talking Gourds

Back Again

A wee bit more than a month ago, Nov 10th, I headed home after two weeks in Telluride. At the time, I figured it’d be at least until February or March before my next visit. Wound up not taking that long.

A week and a half ago, I got word that the December monthly meeting of Telluride’s Talking Gourds poetry club, had been moved from the 6th to the 14th. Since I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off from work, I would be able to attend. Further, the guest poet was going to be, Elissa Dickson, who is currently the San Miguel County Poet Laureate and also someone whom I wanted to hear read their poetry. Finally, Dec 14th is my birthday. All these plusses converging, what other choice did I have, but attend?

When I arrived at the venue, last night, it was packed. The only time I’d seen as many folks attend a Talking Gourds was the night Jewel (the singer/songwriter) was one of the guest poets. Last night’s draw was Elissa. She works at the library, is outgoing, and has lived in Telluride for a number of years. Her friends, peeps, loved ones, and other supporters had filled the room.

Speaking for myself, I scarcely know Elissa; I’ve seen her a few times at previous Talking Gourds, and have heard a few of her performance and written poems. Even so with such seemingly little to go on regarding Elissa, my regard for her, and my appreciation and respect of her talents, was enough to cause me to come for the night in Telluride: (Four-and-a-half hour drive, each way; three mountain passes, also each way; not to mention the cost of gas and a hotel room, and the sorta “loss” of my two days off from work.) There are very few others I’d willingly do this for. So, if  I, “scarcely” knowing her as I do, immediately decided to come to Telluride in order to hear her, is it any wonder she packed the house with those who know her far better?

Of course, and to be sure, once I’m here, spending time in Telluride isn’t any burden. I’ve lost count of my overnight(s) visits over the past three or four years, but I’m pretty sure it’s in at least the upper teens. As always, I stayed at Mountainside Inn, and stopped by the local Indie bookstore, Between the Covers, (two times, this time), to buy needed books and the like. Also, I got to touch base with some of own Telluridian “friends, peeps, loved ones, and other supporters.”

Even though I’ll have to be at work by 4AM, tomorrow, “what other choice did I have,” but to come? (Place your bets now, on whether I’ll be able to wait until next year’s Lit Fest, in May, to return.)

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Inspiration, re: Writing

How Good Are You?

So, once again, I ran off to Telluride for a couple of days. And, once again, I was there for Talking Gourds, their monthly poetry gathering/reading. And, yup, once again, I was very glad to have gone, and I had a difficult time leaving.

One big difference, this go-around, was getting to spend some time with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, without there being some writerly thing bringing us together. We met at my favorite place in Telluride to have breakfast, and spent a good and solid hour and a half, discussing all sorts of things. For all the times we’ve otherwise met and crossed paths, this was the first time we’ve been able to spend more than a mere handful of minutes talking and being together.

Pretty much the full brunt of what got talked about revolved around poetry and writing. It’s one of the strongest things we have in common, so it was the easiest subject to discuss. Also, I got the ball rolling in that particular direction by asking Rosemerry a question, pretty quickly after she and I had gotten settled in.

“How does one determine the caliber of their writing?” I admit, this is yet another version of my wondering, asking, whether my writing matters. Well, it didn’t take very long at all for this question to be dissipated, kinda tossed aside, and moved beyond to other things. But, still, it was never truly abandoned. We flitted and flirted around it for the rest of our time together.

In a real and true sense, this question “doesn’t belong.” Writing is not a competition. You’re not going up against other writers, trying to surpass them. Each time you write, you’re to be as present as possible, remaining both aware and open as much as you’re able. All the while, as with every other aspect of your life, you’re to be fully and cleanly yourself. Crafting to the best of your abilities is the only caliber that matters. Where your writing stands in comparison to that of others’ is none of your concern. Also, to once again quote Michelle Kodis, “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.”

So… how does one determine the caliber of their writing? By whether you’ve written (at least) to the full extent of your capabilities. And, once again, you’re not going up against any other writer/poet/essayist. Writing, all art in fact, isn’t a competition. Rather, if it’s anything, it’s a collaboration.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Sorting It Out

Telluride: Day Six

Even though there’s still one more full day here to go, in no small way it’s been coming to this: Talking Gourds, the monthly Telluride poetry gathering. As I said, yesterday, I specifically planned this stay to include Talking Gourds. Since I am a writer, and one who is still getting used to the fact that he’s a poet, reading aloud a poem I’ve crafted to a group of others who have done the same, is a good and necessary thing on several levels.

But, I’m too close to the end of the day’s tale. Let me start again, closer to the beginning.

Anyone who knows me even a little, or has read pretty much any of these blogposts, knows I struggle with my writing. I create a fair bit of drama over whether or not to continue pursuing it. The big, real reason for my seven days here, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is to finally, with regards to my writing, either shit or get off the pot.

So I came here looking for clarity, certainty. However, after Monday’s conversation with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, I head-butted a truth I’ve been fighting against in ignorance since, I guess, Day One: An absolute, unshakeable certainty is impossible. As Frederick Buechner has said, “If there’s room for me, then there’s room for doubt.” So, here I was. I’d come to Rosemerry for insight, and I’d gotten it—only it seemed to be exactly the opposite of the insight I was looking for. I was rattled. Yeah, you could say that.

Actually, though, and perhaps oddly, I was comforted and settled by this whack upside my expectations. Whether I was to be a writer wasn’t up to things being certain and clearly so; instead, it was up to my deciding so. In no small intangible way, I’d placed the responsibility onto someone/something else’s shoulders. Removed it from my control. I was waiting for the decision to be made for me. (No wonder I was so frustrated and twisted in knots.) Nothing would ever be certain; but I could certainly make a decision and act on it.

Now each month’s Talking Gourds has a theme. This month’s was, fear. I had a poem nearly finished by the time Rosemerry and I met, Monday. Of course, it came up in our conversation; and out of that conversation, the poem was set on a different trajectory. I worked on it some, that Monday, and even got it completed enough, I felt. However, when I’d gotten into bed and the lights were out, inspiration arrived for another poem. Fortunately, I had enough wits and wisdom to turn the light back on long enough to pen this inspiration to the page before heading back to sleep. Come morning, I began working on this new poem, spending most of the day bringing it into the light, onto the page.

When I’d finished reading it, last evening, there was that hush that confirmed what I knew: I’d been gifted with a poem that struck paydirt. Further, just so the Universe could drive its point home a little firmer, at the end of the meeting, a woman came up to me, asking me to mail her a copy of my poem, because it’d struck her so.

Ah, oh, one more thing: This was the moon as we walked our way back to our cars, our homes, our hotel room(s).

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There’s more to this story than I’m telling. Both in regards to this day, and this whole time here so far. A great number of things are clicking into interesting places. Toggling together in unexpected ways. And there’s still all of today ahead of me yet.

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Sorting It Out, Staying With the Writing

Telluride: Day Five

Well, after Sunday’s “day of rest,” yesterday was a more productive one.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer had agreed to meet with me at 2:30, before she picked up her kiddo from school. I was able to get a hike in along one of the trails she’d suggested, before our meeting.

I seem to have come to Telluride at the right time. The leaves are still turning, making the stunning box canyon valley even moreso stunning. Amy Levek mentioned several times during our own hike together, that it was hard to not be happy amid such scenery. It’s also hard not to be inspired.

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My time with Rosemerry was brief, but wonderful. As it turned out, it was the first time I’ve been with her when there hasn’t been some poetry-related thing going on. Even so, it didn’t take us long to get into deeper conversation. I mentioned my persistence in questioning the value and worth of my writing, and myself as a writer; and she said she still occasionally struggles herself with those same questions. To hear that a poet and writer of her caliber doesn’t have it settled and squared away, still has those existentially pestering moments, is something of a relief. If Rosemerry is still dealing with these issues, then my own dealings are certainly not proof against my own writing.

This evening, I’ll get to see Rosemerry again. The first Tuesday of every month is Talking Gourds, the monthly gathering of poets, here, hosted by Rosemerry and Art Goodtimes. There’s a visiting poet who does a reading and maybe a discussion, followed by the rest of the poets reading poems written to a theme selected at the previous month’s meeting. I intentionally scheduled my time here to include attending Talking Gourds. And I’ll still have one more full day here before returning home to Salida.

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Sorting It Out, Staying With the Writing

re: Not Belonging and Brilliance

Last October, I attended my first Talking Gourds, Telluride’s monthly poetry gathering and reading. It was good being in Telluride and seeing some of the locals whom I knew in some fashion or another. However, I was unable to shake off the sense that I didn’t belong, that I was intruding, being the “not from around here” person that I was. Never mind that I was embraced by no fewer than three of the locals, and introduced as something of a special guest, having come from four hours away, at the start of the meeting. Event though I was a poet among other poets, I was not “one of us.”

Thing is, I don’t think I’m all that alone, thinking I’m the oddball, the outsider, the “one of these things isn’t like all the others…” As I spend more time with more people, I’m seeing that it’s the oddball who doesn’t struggle with feeling like the oddball.

In a recent blogpost, Susan J Tweit writes about her feelings of being an outsider. Because she’s a self-taught writer, not trained in any academic writing program, she’s not a “real writer.” Likewise, because she wasn’t able to produce the journal writings of “real science,” she’s not accepted into their ranks, even with her graduate degree in biology. Never mind she’s been a Colorado Book Award Winner x number of times, and has been anthologized close to a countless number of times—she doesn’t belong and is an outsider because she’s “not a real writer.”

Another local writer of my acquaintance, Trish, often gets sucked into the muck of pondering her place in the scheme of things, especially as a writer. During one of these periods, she received a letter from writer she’d crossed paths with a couple of times, and had recently attended a workshop conducted by. It was a brief letter of encouragement, of persisting onward amid the hazy, foggy times. Trish showed me this letter, pointing out the line that stopped her breath midway in her throat: You bring so much to the world, such generosity of spirit, such clean vision (about everything, it seems, except your own brilliance), such kindness.

A lack of being able to see our own brilliance: Isn’t this what we all, each of us, suffers from?

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Staying With the Writing