August 2015

Don't miss the mushroom parade

By Art Goodtimes

SHROOMFEST … The Telluride Mushroom Festival is celebrating its 35th year Aug. 13-16. I’ve been Poet- In-Residence for the event for most of those 35 years. Easily my favorite event of the year. Mostly because mushrooms have changed my life. I take medicinal mushrooms daily as part of my immune-strengthening regimen. I have huge respect for the insights gained in life-changing hallucinatory sessions with magic mushrooms. And I’ve learned that mushrooms can help cleanse toxins from the environment and help forests grow. But most of all they taste good. I hunt for boletes, hawkswings and chanterelles every season, as well as lots of other less-well-known toadstools. Someday I’d like to find the Hawaiian stinkhorn whose fetid odor gives more than half the women tested immediate orgasms … The mycological world is a fascinating one. Come to Telluride. Go to lectures. Bring mushrooms for experts to identify for free in Elks Park. Eat gourmet meals with wild ’shrooms … All the info about it is on-line. Just google Telluride Mushroom Festival … And if you get the fungal bug bad, subscribe to Fungimag.com, where I’m poetry editor and I get to marry my two favorite pastimes – hunting mushrooms and writing poetry.

THE TALKING GOURD

The New Formalism

Son, it’s not just
unbuttoned shirts or loosened
guys
that match the mountains’ size

Even the smooth engine
of a meter’s day
rhyming blithely away

can ring a cirque of peaks
See, surmise
& take our breath away

McRedeye sez
Some write best
under constraint

WRITING THE ROCKIES … Western State in Gunnison has upped its game. There’s a revamped University Center, a recent business wing, new Welcome Center, new student housing and construction work ongoing. No longer just a college, it’s become Western State Colorado University, offering its own graduate programs … The Masters in Environmental Management (MEM) is ranked as one of the top five environmental science programs in the country by Environmentalscience.org. Dr. John C. Hausdoerffer heads up MEM. He has also assumed the unfunded George Sibley Chair in putting on the annual environmental science conference in the fall – Headwaters – one of my favorite gatherings, where interesting speakers make keynotes and Western Slope progressives go to hash out environmental conundrums and hear new ideas. It seems the model of matching a conference with a graduate program works well for Dr. John. The MEM program has 82 graduate students, with environmental management projects going on all over the world. That’s coming up in September … Another of Western’s grad offerings is run by Dr. David Rothman – his graduate program in creative writing. And the program’s conference component is Writing the Rockies, a four-day national literary gathering, which concluded last month. I was lucky enough to attend for the first time. The conference is in its 16th year. It’s been called “blazingly imaginative” by Dr. Frederick Turner, professor of Arts & Humanities at the University of Texas/Dallas. And been lauded for pulling together the various threads of the literature world that have become increasingly frayed in sub-genres and specialized subject areas. Thus, there were Creative Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Poetry, Publishing and Screenwriting tracks, as well as a special Opera workshop for a newlywritten libretto and score. We heard the first act in a premiere of “The Audubon Dream” in piano reduction, oratoriostyle – ably performed by Central City Opera’s lyric baritone Dr. Adam Ewing and (the dazzling!) soprano Emily Murdock … The event’s multiple foci translated into mornings, afternoons and evenings studded with panels, workshops, readings, film showings, an annual award, interviews, talks, symposia, and interactive speaker coffee circles. And if you wanted to do an intensive three-day afternoon workshop extra, you got to study with incredible teachers exploring literary bon-mots like the intersect of physics and poetry, the works of Robinson Jeffers, neo-formalist writing techniques, the art of teaching poetry to schoolkids … But by the last day more than one of us Colorado poet/writers found ourselves out on Western’s expansive campus lawn, tossing Frisbees and discoursing among ourselves in the shade of Academia.

HIGH POINTS … Angela O’Donnell’s Friday panel “Custodians of Memory: Poetry & Memoir” together with Wisconsin poet laureate emerita Marilyn Taylor and British-American poet, essayist, editor and professor Jane Satterfield … Getting invited to sit in on the last of three workshops on “Poetry, Time and Space” with Emily Grosholz, liberal arts research professor of philosophy, African American studies and English, and a member of the Center for Fundamental Theory / Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, all at Pennsylvania State University … Hanging with a gang of my Western Slope poetry homies at the Parlin home of Alan & Issa & Ellie outside Gunny – we’re talking about Danny Rosen who’s opening a new bookstore home for his Lithic Press of Fruita; & our own San Miguel County Poet Laureate emerita Elle Metrick of Norwood; & mountain poet about-toturn mystery writer Peter Anderson of Crestone; & history scholar/poet Rayne Allinson taking time out from Michigan; & the mercurial poet/artist/provocateur Wendy Videlock of the Grand Valley (CO) … Meeting Caleb J. Seeling of Conundrum Press; & Alan Malnar of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott (AZ), who’s doing a book on Robinson Jeffers and hawks; & poet, Frisbee ace and Fountain Valley (CO) teacher Dave Reynolds; & fellow journalist/ editor writer/writing coach Alissa Johnson of the Crested Butte News; & professional attorney and closet narrative poet Phyllis Knight; & Michigan performance poet Jeff Kass; & fellow paleohippie poet Annie Petrie-Sauter; & award-winning poet, essayist and translator Ned Balbo of Baltimore; & many more … Friday afternoon’s jousting with George Sibley, mentor and friend, over my provocative claim: “I read Scientific American religiously.”

CANNABITOURISM … No one seems to be tracking the number of tourists Colorado towns like Telluride are attracting due to the legalization of personal use of cannabis. Many of us suspect it’s a bigger number than our tourism folks are estimating … Here’s Denver restaurateur and president of the Cannabis Global Initiative Wanda James, speaking about a November municipal initiative to allow limited cannabis consumption in business, bar and patio spaces, in the Cannabist (July 10, 2015 by Ricardo Baca) … “People were terrified and paranoid about Amendment 64 passing. Well, look what happened? The unspeakable happened: We have more college kids coming here and are drawing more conventions and businesses who want to be here in Denver … We’re setting tourism records and, despite what Visit Denver says, everyone knows what caused the spike in tourism in 2014. Denver became hip, and it’s the tourists we want to see coming to Denver. But then they get here and they buy their legal cannabis and they have nowhere to use it.”

POT SHOTS … “It really puzzles me to see [cannabis] connected with narcotics, dope, and all that crap … it’s a thousand times better than whiskey. It’s an assistant – a friend.” – Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, musician (1901-1971)

Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.