KAREN CHAMBERLAIN … was a most amazing lady who spent a bit of time visiting Telluride, but mostly lived in the Roaring Fork Valley, writing, running the Aspen Writers gatherings, mentoring young women poets and promising men. We both won Colorado Poetry fellowships back when the state was granting such frivolous things, and we admired the hell out of each other ever after … Thunder River Theatre’s Valerie Haugen has organized a poetry festival in Karen’s name, and elicited help from a lot of poets familiar to San Miguel County – myself, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Elle Metrick … They even caught me by surprise by naming me the first Western Slope Poet Laureate – an honor that I get to pass along to a new laureate next weekend. March 29, 30, 31 in Carbondale. It will be evenings of readings by regional poets, workshops in the day (Rosemerry and I are doing a reprise on our Sacred & the Obscene poetry club workshop, marrying San Francisco’s Lenore Kandel of “Love Book” fame with Persia’s Rumi … And biggest thrill of all – we get to honor longtime Colorado outdoor poet, essayist of the natural, and CU professor emeritus, Reg Saner. I talked Valerie into offering the Chamberlain Award, for lifetime achievement on behalf of Colorado poetry … If you don’t know Saner’s work, check out Climbing Into the Roots (Harper & Row, 1976), So This Is the Map (Random House, 1981), The Four-Cornered Falcon: Essays on the Interior West and the Natural Scene (John Hopkins, 1993) and the Dawn Collector: On My Way to the Natural World (Center for American Places, 2005).
TALKING GOURDS … It’s that time again for our monthly gathering at Arroyo’s Fine Art Gallery & Wine Bar, Tuesday, April 2, at 6 p.m. Spring will be the theme, and there’s a lot of wonderful poets with spring pieces, from ee cummings to most of the poets I know .... Bring poems of your own on spring, or spring poems by poets you admire. Celebrate National Poetry month with a fine cab and some lyric valuables.
WINDFALL … A Portland-based Journal of Poetry of Place <w.heavanet.com/windfall> offered a critique of modernism in their spring 2009 issue, which I just happened upon in my midden heap at Cloud Acre … Editors Bill Silverly and Michael McDowell include an Afterword with each issue, and this one was entitled: “Gardener Poets.” I loved Windfall, subscribed for a year, and was only disappointed in that they limited their submissions to poets of the Pacific West Coast states. Though hardly a fault. Best to keep things regional and not try to get too big – that’s my resiliency model these days … But I’m a gardener poet. I wish the Southern Rockies had its own Journal of Poetry of Place, or maybe it does and I just haven’t learned of it yet … Anyway, lot of the theoretical underpinnings for the Windfall critique rest with Robert Pogue Harrison’s Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (Univ. of Chicago, 2008) … As Harrison puts it, “Modernism found its objective correlative in the wasteland rather than the garden” … Here’s some short excerpts from Silverly and McDowell’s Afterword … “Harrison also contrasts the gardener’s perspective with the cult of consumerism that has seemed to dominate life from mid-twentieth century until now. Harrison borrows the phrase ‘more life’ from Lionel Trilling to characterize our craving to turn the earth into ‘a consumerist paradise where everything is given spontaneously, without labor, suffering or husbandry’” … Then Silverly and McDowell quote Harrison directly – and I find it a quite serviceable rationale why I continue to grow 50+ varieties of potatoes in a busy public and private life… “Our attempts to re-create Eden amount to an assault on creation. That is the danger of the era. Precisely because our frenzy is fundamentally aimless while remaining driven, we set ourselves goals whose main purpose is to keep the frenzy going until it consummates itself in sloth … If at present we are seeking to render the totality of the earth’s resources endlessly available, endlessly usable, endlessly disposable, it is because endless consumption is the proximate goal of a production without end … Or, better, consumption is what justifies the frenzy of production, which in turn justifies consumption, the entire cycle serving more to keep us busy than to satisfy our real needs.”
EUPHEMISMS … What was wrong with those old “Deer Crossing” signs? … OK, maybe “Wildlife Crossing” – if it had to change … But did we really need the yellow hazard square outside Colona that reads “Wildlife Detection Zone”?
SPEAKING OF SIGNS … Had to smile near San Luis Valley’s Casita Park heading east of Moffat at the highway sign for the White Eagle Lodge at Crestone: “Lodging/Tarot. In Crestone I guess getting a room and a reading pairs like chicken and white wine.
SPEAKING OF FOOD … If you do find yourself at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Range, wandering Sedona North in search of sustenance, let me recommend the Bliss Café … Delicious food, simple setting, welcoming service. Highly recommended.
THE TALKING GOURD
Ridgway Reservoir’s got
a big bathtub ring
& a mini-tumbleweed
the highway macadam
like a black cat