Two days with Gary Snyder at Headwaters
By Art Goodtimes
GARY SNYDER … For 40 years I’ve been a student and follower of Gary Snyder. Fifteen years my senior, he was one poet of the San Francisco Renaissance with whom I resonated completely. His move from the city to the rural countryside presaged my own urban-to-rural move. His first book, “RipRap,” changed my life, and marked the foundations of my poetic instincts. His comments to me about the Green Party at a philosophy conference in Estes Park got me on the radical path of alternative party politics. His Deep Ecology and that of Dolores LaChapelle became my deep ecology … So, spending two days with Gary at Headwaters 25 in Gunnison at Western State Colorado University last month was the culmination of a lifetime of respect and inspiration. I got to open for his poetry reading with a performance piece of my own, “The Art of Getting Lost”. It fell to me to honor him with a toast at a faculty dinner at the Sherpa Café the next evening. And after the post-event gathering at Dr. John Hausdoerffer’s house, Gary gave me a hug as we said goodbye, trading mushroom tidbits (he prefers to call them by their Italian name, funghi) … I feel like I’m floating on a magic-carpet poetry cloud house.
THE TALKING GOURD
At some ordinate time
I found myself entangled
Nine-fifths my age, we were reciprocals
We rode paint horses across
Sipped fermented agave
Lay together beneath a
She, counting stars in the
Me, counting stars in the
Later, we wandered
And as we began to disentangle,
Satisfied not to read in between the lines
— Rio Coyotl
JOE HUTCHINSON … Poets around the state celebrated Gov. John Hickenlooper’s selection of Indian Hills poet Joe Hutchinson as Colorado’s eighth poet laureate. He succeeds Colorado College poet/professor David Mason as the state’s honored bard for the next four years … According to Tessa Cheek in The Colorado Independent, Hickenlooper lauded Hutchison as not just a great poet, but an “everyman’s” poet. “The way he looks at poetry is kind of the way I look at politics and at life,” said Hickenlooper. “He is so open and his poetry is positive, there’s a certain optimism there. Not every poet writes that way” … Joe also teaches. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. He has published over a dozen poetry books as a writer and two full-length books as an editor. “Shadow Light” (1982) won the Colorado Governor’s Award. “Bed of Coals” (1994) won the Colorado Book Award. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Poetry Now, Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), The Little Review, Yes Magazine and more. He’s currently teaching at the University of Denver … A long-time fixture of the state poetry scene and a personal friend, Joe visited Telluride many years ago as part of the Telluride Writers Guild poetry series. And he’s committed to come again, next May, as headliner for our Telluride Literary Arts Festival … His new book, Marked Men (WordTech Communications, 2013) includes a fictionalized account of the heroic actions of Silas Soule at the Sand Creek Massacre and the subsequent testimony at a federal inquiry in Denver, for which he was assassinated shortly afterwards. I’ve been urging Gov. Hickenlooper to use the publication of the book to honor Soule in some significant way. Soule is one of Colorado’s most under-appreciated heroes, who gave his life for his beliefs.
QUANTUM CHESHIRE CAT … Physics students, toss out that old textbook. According to Andrew Grant in Science News (Sept. 6, 2014 issue), “Quantum mechanics has reached ‘Alice in Wonderland’ levels of weirdness.” Recent experiments by Dr. Yuji Hasegawa of the Vienna University of Technology appear to have shown the impossible. “An experiment tracking subatomic particles maneuvering past a fork in the road seems to reveal that the particles went one way while one of their intrinsic properties, their spin, went in the other,” continued Grant. “The phenomenon is called the quantum Cheshire Cat, after the Alice feline whose mischievous grin inexplicably remains after its body has disappeared … Hypothesized Dr Jeff Tollaksen of Chapman University in California, co-author of the new study published in Nature Communications, “You can separate basically any property of a particle from the particle itself.” He added that, while the result defies explanation for now, it could lead to better understanding of the quantum world as well as improvements in measuring particles’ most subtle properties.
DETROIT ENTHEOGENIC … Shroomfest speaker Kilindi Iyi has been lecturing around the world about high-dose psilocybe experiences that he claims could perhaps access the genetic code, activating dormant RNA. He’s a mycologist, martial artist and psychonaut who’s made a name for himself and his Tamerrian Institute. Now he’s hosting an Entheogenic Conference at the First Unitarian Church in Detroit Oct. 31- Nov. 2 (313-622- 4024) and promising to present hands-on experts in mushrooms, DMT, ayahuasca and ibogaine … Iyi himself has done research on African martial arts and entheogenic visioning traditions, visited the Ghana site of Anokye’s sword that no Arthur has been able to remove, and spun the machete in a dance of Gambia’s Ogun.
HIGH IN TELLURIDE … Pot retailer Alpine Wellness scored a kind of coup recently, when state labs tested their Cannabis strain, Jabberwocky, and found that its THC count scored at 27.5 percent -- the highest in Colorado. Of course, most of us know that doing ag at our high altitude often means producing the best, most nutritious crops … THC counts are not the only, or even the most important, factor when searching for pain relief or even a particular kind of Rocky Mountain high. But it does get your attention.
CHIVINGTON … There’s a petition at Change.org from Victoria LeftHand of St. Louis to consider changing the name of one of Colorado’s post office towns. Its current designation remains as the unincorporated Kiowa County town of Chivington, perpetrator of Colorado’s most infamous Native American massacre, Sand Creek … I’ve suggested changing it to Soule (see above) for Capt. Silas Soule, who was in command of Company D, 1st Colorado Cavalry, which was present at Sand Creek on Nov. 29, 1864, where he refused an order from Militia Colonel Rev. John Chivington to join the Sand Creek massacre.
UNPROFESSIONAL … New buyers Forethought.net took control of Brainstorm Internet, the Durango- based cyber-connectivity company, and promptly raised the rates $4 a month without notifying anyone beforehand. Their bad … Not a big deal. And not a reason to go back to chronically underwhelming CenturyLink. But noticeably sleazy.
Art Goodtimes is a fifth-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.