Writers Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, cofounders of the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program. The Gourds’ next reading is on Zoom Tuesday night. (Image courtesy of tellurideinstitute.org/talking-gourds)

The first year of the pandemic may have kept us all locked down, yet certain artists found it inspiring.

Santa Fe poet Debbi Brody, for example, has called 2020 “a prolific time.” Everything, it seems, was grist for her creative mill: On Brody’s Facebook page, you’ll find works that capture the moment: rapidly ripening apricots, green and, as yet, “Unshrivelled from heat, protected by leaves/Languishing in eleven percent humidity.”

And a coup-de-grace couplet:

“In a drought, is it best to water

Or let nature have her way?”

There is also gratitude here. Brody’s poem “Pandemic Spring Miracles,” reprinted by the Oklahoma Humanities Council in a semi-annual publication on the theme of hope, is a recitation of blessings, strung together like prayer beads.

“Eggplant seedlings after five weeks silence,

Gold finch eat camouflaged locust tree blossoms,” Brody recounts.

“No one in my family has died this year.

I still have work,

Out of work, my son loves full time parenting,

My dog’s nose compensates for diminished eyesight.

Denial and courage surround,

In tranquility I hold opposing beliefs.

At sunset, wren counts her fledglings

As she trills them back to nest.

Since March 17, I’ve driven 70 miles.

No one in my family has died this year.

I still have work.”

“Your glass has definitely been half-full!” an admirer of this work wrote Brody. Wrote another: “Thanks for this gift.”

Brody — whose most recent publication is the chapbook “A Walk in the Arroyo,” and who has been published in the journals Poetica, Broomweed and Sin Fronteras — is the Talking Gourds’ gift to verse-lovers on Tuesday, when the poetry club’s monthly Zoom series, dubbed Bardic Trails, convenes at 7 p.m. (pre-register by Saturday at telluridelibrary.org/events to receive a link).

Following Brody’s reading of her “most beloved” pieces, there will be a Q&A with the poet, and a chance for Gourds members to read a poem or two of their own, or one that inspires them, on the theme of “the new.”


The Gourds conferred a couple of additional gifts recently on top of the monthly series it offers to the community. Earlier this month, the group awarded its 23rd Annual Fischer Prize to Ja’net Danielo of Long Beach, California, for her poem, “We Thank the Veteran for His Service.” The national contest is named for late Telluride attorney and poet Mark Fischer (the regional Cantor Prize takes its name from Fischer’s wife, politician and poet Elaine Cantor, who passed away a few years ago).

Poet Madison Gill, of Montrose, won this year’s Cantor Prize for her work, “Urraca.” CSU-Pueblo poetry professor Juan Morales called the selection of his former student “Fantastic.” (“Madison has always shown herself to be a strong poet, who works hard,” Morales has said. “Her poems are full of strong lines, tenderness and compelling themes, and I appreciate her use of natural imagery and wonderful landscapes.”)

Gill received $500 for her poem, and national award-winner Danielo received $1,000 for hers. There were also several runners-up, who received gifts of $250 each. All the award-winners will be invited to read at the first six Bardic Trails’ presentations of 2022. Cofounded by local scribes Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, the Talking Gourds is a program of the Telluride Instiute. Learn more about Gourds events and this year’s prizewinners, read this year’s (and last year’s) winning poems, and see a Western Slope Poetry Calendar of Events at tellurideinstitute.org/talking-gourds.