Poet Rosemerry Trommer in Ridgway
I wrote ‘Rosemerry Trommer in Ridgway,’ but I could just as easily have said Rosemerry Trommer Everywhere. And that probably would have been more accurate. While many of us are slowing down for this holiday week, Trommer, the award-winning poet from Placerville who is also a singer and gifted teacher, is gearing up. Over the next nine days, she’ll present a class at Weehawken Ouray entitled Wise Voices From the East, a tour of over a thousand years of Eastern poets including Han Shan, Shikibu Izumi and others “as they explore themes of humility, grateful acceptance, non-duality, contradictoriness, love, freedom, courage and death.” With fellow scribe Art Goodtimes, she’s hosting the latest installation of Talking Gourds, a poetry gathering at Arroyo Art Gallery (this month’s theme is Darkness). And in Ridgway, she’ll be the featured presenter at the Open Bard Poetry Series at the Sherbino Theater, now in its third month.
About Open Bard: it is thriving. Last month, for visiting poet Mark Todd from Western State College, it was standing-room-only. “Not a spare chair in the house,” said Open Bard’s co-founder, Beth Paulson. If you can’t make the series next week and are curious about Trommer and how she writes, she lays it all out on her website and blog, offering specific up poems and approaches to poetry she admires and finds inspiring. She is intensely disciplined, and for seven years has written a poem a day. Her writing style is deceptively simple. Her phrasing and her spirit are frequently tender and gentle. Yet just as frequently, her ruminations are on the edge of despair. This is “Interior Weather Report,” written Nov. 6.
Yesterday, a low gray haze.
A fog. A blur. A sullen shroud.
At dinnertime my young boys says,
Mom, can you guess how much a cloud
Would weigh? I guess a thousand pounds.
No, more, Mom, guess again, he says.
Two million pounds? He says, Go down.
I give, I say. He looks away,
then tells me, Half a great blue whale.
And guess how much a storm cloud weighs?
I say, I give again, and smile.
A whole blue whale, he says, then splays
his hands in thrill, and says, Guess how
much hurricanes would weigh?
This time I guesstimate too low –
Perhaps two hundred whales, I say.
By now I’m curious about
how many pods of great blue whales
could swim in squalls of heartsick doubt
and grief, the pea soup kind that swelled
up yesterday. Three hundred whales
he tells me and I wonder if
the same great number found their way
into my brooding thoughts. He shifts
the conversation to how heat
is what makes clouds suspend up high.
Meanwhile, a foggy thought repeats.
A dozen great blue whales swim by.
Rosemerry Trommer appears at the Open Bard Poetry Series on Thursday, Dec. 3. Local poets are encouraged to bring a work or two of their own to read following Trommer’s presentation. To follow along with Trommer’s daily poetry practice, visit her website (wordwoman.com) and blog (ahundredfallingveils.com).
In Telluride: National Theatre Turns 50
It was not, at the outset, a terribly popular idea. As Beatrice Rubens, producer of The Road to the National Theatre for BBC Radio, wrote on her news organization’s website, “Disdain and hostility are not uncommon responses to major cultural projects in the U.K., but the venomous attacks leveled, over two centuries, against the idea of a national [British] theatre leave a sour taste in the mouth even today.” Or as early 20th Century dramatist Seymour Hicks put it, somewhat less delicately, “The National Theatre! I wonder if there are really half a dozen people insane enough to think it will ever come into existence.”
Yet the National Theatre did just that, and today it’s a national treasure. Its earliest artistic director was Laurence Olivier, and it has premiered works by, among others, Harold Pinter, Peter Shaffer, Tom Stoppard and David Hare. The theatre turns 50 years old this fall, and it brought together some of the best English-speaking actors in the world in order to help celebrate. A few of the familiar faces (and voices) appearing onstage include Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, and many others. The evening surveys iconic productions – and famous speeches – from Guys and Dolls to Antony and Cleopatra to Angels in America. SPARKy Productions and the Telluride Palm present National Theatre Live productions often these days, and this evening should be special. National Theatre, of course, is billing it as a “once in a lifetime event.” And indeed, it’s difficult to imagine where you will ever see so many great actors together in one place – except perhaps, at somebody’s funeral, where they certainly won’t be reprising some of their most famous speeches they way they will next week. This Tuesday, Dec. 3, in a one-time-only show, National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage can be seen at the Palm Theatre. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m.
Challenge Grant for the Sherbino
It’s the giving time of year, and the historic Sherbino Theater – where the Open Bard Poetry Series is happening, and which also hosts movies, lectures and concerts – has just received a matching grant from an anonymous philanthropist. Between now and the first of the year, every dollar that is donated to the Sherbino will be matched, up to $10,000. “It’s been a great sophomore year,” said Pat O’Leary, chairman of the Ridgway Chautauqua Society. “We’ve learned a lot about collaboration across this region” with other cultural arts centers “and rededicated ourselves to programs consistent with lifelong learning and stimulating intellectual content” – the founding principles on which the original Chautauqua Society was based. Over the past year, the Sherbino has hosted a sold-out performance with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, welcomed jazz pianist Doris Merritt, presented photography workshops and presentations with John Fielder and Joseph Sohm, and staged the Open Bard series. Now, O’Leary is hard at work on the Sherb’s new Lecture Series for 2014. The matching grant “means we can close out our second year in the black again,” he said. Nothing better than that, and much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
To learn more, visit sherbinotheater.com.