ELEVATED | Words & Deeds
by Leslie Vreeland
Oct 31, 2013 | 1447 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Poet Mark Todd in Ridgway


A week from today will mark the second installation of the nascent Open Bard Poetry Series at the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway. Its founders, Beth Paulson and Kierstin Bridger, poets themselves, hoped to encourage continued attendance by offering “Bard Cards,” the $20 purchase of which gets you into every one of these events through May of 2014.

On the first evening, the cards sold out.

Clearly, there’s a healthy appetite for poetry in this region, which Paulson and Bridger hope to slake in their second installation of the series next Thursday, Nov. 7 with an appearance by Mark Todd. Todd is not only a poet, but a professor of English and director of the MFA program in creative writing at Western State in Gunnison. Still (and here I am just guessing), it’s this poet’s numerous extracurricular activities that feed his creativity more than the academic stuff.

Paulson said that hearing her good friend Todd read a poem, “You might feel the weight of your body press against a stirrup, and your fingers tighten on the reins.” Perhaps that’s because his passion is raising and training horses for eventing, a competition which encompasses cross-country riding, dressage work and stadium jumping.

To excel at eventing, in other words, you must do many things well, most of them over daunting hurdles.

That sounds a lot like the task of writing great poetry.

In his few spare hours, when he isn’t, say, translating Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic and Late Kingdom Hieratic texts or playing doumbeks – Middle Eastern drums – with his wife, with whom he is writing a paranormal adventure-comedy series of novels, Todd also serves as volunteer telescope operator and presenter at the Gunnison Valley Observatory.

So, yes, Todd specializes in verse about life on this planet, as Paulson says, “People, animals and the landscapes that connect them.” He’s produced two books of poetry encompassing these themes. But this modern-day Renaissance man has also stretched himself by writing in different forms – such as the sonnet – and about other worlds besides this one. He combines the two in “Eclipse,” from Wire Song, his first collection.



I couldn’t tell you the numbered times I’ve seen

the moon’s arc, its flat medallion a traced

path across the canopy sky, its face

in two dimensions, like a spot-light beam;

or the thoughtless times I’ve assumed its scheme

of things was merely a bright place that effaced

the stars, a celestial disk too long encased

in the time-weary lines of a lover’s theme.


But one still night, when the earth’s shadow licked

away the moon’s full milk-veneer, I stood

on the dark deck, and through a reddish trick

of light, it seemed a suspended world I could

almost touch, suddenly a solid place,

a sphere that hung in the deep room of space.

Mark Todd’s reading at the Sherbino Theater begins at 6:30 p.m. Following the intermission there will be an open reading, during which members of the audience are invited to read a poem or two of their choosing. Admission is $5 (teachers and students admitted free).

The Artful Gift Series in Telluride


There is something soul-satisfying about making a gift with your own hands, something that cannot be found in any store and came from your heart, then passing it on to a loved one, particularly at holiday-time. If you can take a class that teaches you a new creative skill and make that gift in the process, so much the better – you’ve also given something enduring to yourself. It is in this spirit that the Ah Haa School is offering a series of classes entitled The Artful Gift in subjects ranging from cold-process soap-making and canning holiday condiments to print-making on cards and more. “We decided it would be nice to offer a few classes that would not only intrigue people about learning something new and working with unfamiliar materials, but also serve as an inspiration for creating something unique to give away as a holiday gift,” said Jessica Newens, who directs Ah Haa’s courses. Newens is the founder and former owner of the Tomboy Soap Company; she’ll be conducting the one in soap-making. “These classes are purposefully affordable, and relatively short, to accommodate all budgets and schedules,” she said. “We hope multiple family members may even use these as an excuse to spend some quality time together.”

The first class is next Saturday, Nov. 9, in which jewelry maker Jennifer Dewey will teach a class in Beginning Metal Jewelry. The course will focus on ring-making, wherein students “will use hand tools such as hammers, saws and files while they form, solder and finish” their own creation.  Ah Haa is also offering a number of art classes for “the slightly more ambitious” student, such as an introductory fused glass workshop the weekend of Nov. 23-24. The Ah Haa School teaches not only arts and crafts, but also design, and three classes devoted to the digital version of that are also coming soon: Adobe Photoshop, Tips and Tricks runs from Nov. 19-20 and In-Design Basics is offered Dec. 2-3. The classes will be taught by Lauren Metzger, who will teach an introductory session on Adobe Illustrator this January. For more on Ah Haa courses or to register, visit ahhaa.org or call 970/728-3886. The school also offers scholarships and work-study opportunities.


They Came to Telluride: Women Behind the Lens

Telluride Film Festival Cinematheque is a grand title for a simple idea: it’s a collaborative film series between TFF and the Wilkinson Library, where the films are screened. Each series explores a different theme, such as film noir, screwball comedy or, beginning this autumn, female filmmakers from all over the world who have screened their works at the Festival. November’s film is Desert Hearts (1985; 96 min.), a lesbian love story directed by Donna Deitch of the U.S. The Guardian pronounced it “one of the most romantic movies ever made.” Next month brings Salaam Bombay!, the debut film by the Indian director, Mira Nair; it won the Golden Camera award at Cannes. The series continues through March and wraps with the sublime Piano, directed by Australia’s Jane Campion and starring Holly Hunter. Piano garnered three Oscars, including one for Campion, who also wrote the screenplay. Desert Hearts screens Monday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. There will be a pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m. Food, film, provocative conversation – all free.
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