April 2006

Bringing performance back to the world of poetry

By Art Goodtimes

TALKING GOURDS … When’s the last time you gave your mind something outrageous to chew on? The Talking Gourds Spoken Word Festival in Telluride, April 21-23, promises riveting performances and wild mind workshop/intensives. It’s spring energy at its best! … Talking Gourds, a Western Slope tradition since 1989, coincides with National Poetry Month as well as Earth Day, and regional poets, storytellers, singers, actors and dancers, ponderers and wanderers will fill the stage at the Sheridan Opera House … The merriment begins Friday, April 21, at 4 p.m. with the Opening Show where the annual Mark Fischer Poetry Prize will be awarded, followed by short performances from regional performers including Stewart Warren of Del Norte, Bodine of Poncha Springs, Scott Nicolay of Shiprock, Leonard Velasquez of El Valle San Luis, Steven Meyers of Durango, Kit Muldoon of Salida, Mark Todd of Gunnison, and Kit Hedman of Denver. Friday evening the Word Show hosts Zoey Benally from the Navajo Nation, The In-visible from Broomfield (Brooke Hart, Edward Thurston, and Lydia Smith), and ROC‘EM SOC’EM from Denver (Day Acoli, Oracle Speaks, Bianca Mikahn) … Saturday’s Earth Day will showcase eight different interactives from “The Limitations and Bewitchments of Language According to Wittgenstein” with Doug Staton to “Listening to the Songs the Ancestors Sing” with Scott Nicolay. Aaron Anstett of Colorado Springs and Wendy Videlock of Grand Junction will lead writing workshops. And Danny Rosen of Fruita will use his inflatable planetarium to take folks on a magic carpet ride through the galaxies of the night skies … At noon, it’s the Eat Your Words Show at the Sheridan Opera House, with Anstett, Videlock, Rosen, TzoTzollin (Ellen Holly Klaver) of Boulder and Katie Bulfin of Gunnison … Saturday night it’s the Mother Earth Show led off by North Beach legend Jack Mueller, the Budada of Street Poets, who’s currently living in hermitage somewhere outside Ridgway, Larry Goodell of Placitas follows, the grand old man of New Mexico performance poets. The night culminates with two members of the Denver Slam Team All- Stars: Ken Arkind and Panama Soweto … After that, a late-night open-mike reading in the opera house offers opportunities for any participant to get their moment on stage … On Sunday morning participants will travel to Placerville, a half-hour from Telluride, for a potluck brunch and a closing with the event’s trademark tradition – a Talking Gourds circle … For more info, check out the website – www.coyotekiva.org — or contact Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer at 970-728-0399 or Art Goodtimes at 970- 369-5430. Talking Gourds is produced by the Telluride Writers Guild and made possible through the generosity of the Telluride Commission for Community Assistance, Arts & Special Events; the Ah Haa School of the Arts; and ResortQuest of Telluride.

POET LAUREATE … Last month Denver appointed its own poet laureate, Chris Ransick – a star of last year’s Talking Gourds Spoken Word Festival and of this year’s Sparrows Performance Poetry Festival in Salida. A Colorado Book Award winner, Ransick teaches at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton and has several books in print with Ghost Road Press of Denver … Hey, if Hickenlooper can garner political hay with the arts crowd by appointing poets to honorary titles (Owens sure hasn’t – Colorado currently ranks 50th in the nation in arts funding), maybe other cities in the state will follow suit. How about Bruce Berger for Poet Laureate of Aspen, Karen Chamberlain Poet Laureate of Glenwood Springs, David Feela Poet Laureate of Cortez, and Wendy Videlock Poet Laureate of Grand Junction?

WEEKLY QUOTA … from Julian Darley, who said that “We humans are the only creature that does not live within walking, swimming, wriggling, or flying distance from its food.”

PEACE PRAYER … Go to www.behleem.com/prayer.html and listen to the 2005 World Prayer for Peace performed by singer/musician Mohammed Iqbal Behleem. I was one of 62 artists from 22 counties that contributed to this beautiful hymn of international peaceful intent last year. And my words are woven into the fabric of his world word quilt … And you too can participate in 2006. Behleem, a Karachi musician best known for his commercial jingles on Pakistani TV, has dedicated his life to advocating for conflict transformation through his many musical peace projects. He is seeking poems for another World Prayer for Peace from citizens of every nation. Last year 28 of the 62 pieces submitted were from Americans, more so than from any country -- even Behleem’s own Pakistan. And fitting, given the huge threat to world peace that the current American government represents … Join in. Send Behleem your words for peace and be part of his international peace project.

SPEAKING OF PEACE … Can this truly be the third year of America’s Iraqi War? … When will the killing – being done in our name – stop? … How does killing people on foreign soils make us safer? … Or self-sufficient? … If we are, as our President admits, “addicted to oil,” then why not bring the troops home and build a selfsufficient United States using our own energy, growing our own foods, defending our own shores and ports?

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.


Peace Candle

Light a candle.
Let the dancing flame
give witness

to the air we share.
And then blow that peace
out into the world.