Telluride is know for its festivals, and the first one of this season is the fifth annual Literary Arts Festival, which is running from May 18 – 20, and is the third one I’ve attended.
Things kicked off, Friday evening, with readings from two poets, Esther Belin and John Nizalowski, followed by an open mic. (Actually, there wasn’t any mic, but…) I uncharacteristically hadn’t brought anything to read, so I recited, “Jabberwocky.”
Yesterday, was the big day, events-wise. It began with a half-hour walk to Lower Bear Creek Falls, at the east side of Telluride’s Town Park.
Immediately after, there was a lecture by, David J Rothman, PhD, on Belle Turnbull, a Breckenridge-base poet who was well-known during her time, but has since fallen into obscurity. At 2:00, winners and runners-up for a locally-based national poetry prize read their poems, as did the winner of the Cantor Award, for Colorado poets.
The evening brought what has become the signature event of LitFest: Literary Burlesque. Here’s a description of what last night’s performance would hold: “Witness this year’s stirring performance by the morphing troupe of eight regional women who will drop layers, both literal and literary. This year’s show is titled Uncorseted: It’s Not What It Seams and is a nod to the women of the World War I era who unbound themselves from stuffy strictures and the societal constraints of the 1914-1918 time period. In addition, regional artists will create handmade corsets for the poets. ” While this is a factual description, there is absolutely no way to describe the immersive, intimate, and visceral experience that is each year’s Literary Burlesque. The previous four years, it’s been held at one of the larger galleries in town; and it always sold out days before the show. This year, the venue was sizably larger, and it sold out, once again. Last night’s was the third performance I’ve attended. Once again I was gobsmacked, left without the words and ability to describe what I’d seen with any justice. You can be sure I’ll once again make it a point, next year, to get my ticket soon as I can.
Three events, today, the final day: A workshop, a “poetry circle,” where everyone is allowed to read a poem they or someone else has written, and finally, at 7:30 this evening, will be a presentation by Craig Childs.
Tomorrow, I return home; and I’ll be back to work—and non-Telluride reality—early Tuesday morning.