If there is something familiar about his face, it’s quite possible you’ve seen Ed Brummel in Telluride before. The Salida-based poet who is the Talking Gourds Poetry Clubs’ featured presenter Tuesday at Telluride Arts HQ at 6 p.m., loves his frequent visits to the valley.
According to Brummel, he doesn’t get here often enough, which is about five or six times a year.
“Nearly all my visits are for Talking Gourds, and they last just a couple of nights,” he said. “But each year, I stay for two weeks or so, just before Thanksgiving. I kinda wonder if the goddess servers at The Butcher and The Baker think I'm a local (and) wonder why I only show up in spurts, followed by long stretches of absenteeism.”
“Ed has been a wonderful loyalist, attending poetry club offerings for the last four years, coming all the way from Salida almost every month,” said Art Goodtimes, Talking Gourds’ co-director with Rosemerry Wahtola-Trommer.
Besides Brummel’s devotion to the work of local poets Trommer, Goodtimes, Elissa Dickson and San Miguel County’s current Poet Laureate, Daiva Chesonis, Brummel likes the community vibe of Telluride.
“Underneath the façade and shell of tourists, dwells a small-town community where folks know each other and keep an eye out for one another,” he said. “There's a sense of, ‘we're in this together.’ Too, there's a funkiness that still abides. The arts are celebrated and encouraged. And, okay, it's got kinda decent scenery, too.”
Brummel figures he’s been writing poetry for about seven years, since about the time Wahtola-Trommer invited him to join a Facebook poem-a-day group, a moment he calls “the actual start to my poeming.” That, he said, was the moment “it got real.”
Now that he’s gotten “real” he finds that his art keeps him sane and that “it gives me a sense of purpose, of having done something that matters — and not only to myself,” he said.
For Brummel, it’s apparent why poetry is important.
“Poetry touches and engages our deeper selves, which can get buried beneath the towering piles of gaak life places upon us,” he said. “Poetry persistently nudges us, reminds us, ‘Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.’”
Along with local poetry giants Goodtimes, Dickson, Wahtola-Trommer and Chesonis, Brummel is inspired by and taps into work by the likes of Mary Oliver, Naomi Shihab Nye, Thomas Lux, Robert Frost and “a plethora of others.” He also enjoys the work of writers Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass, Craig Childs, Pam Houston and, as he said, “billions and billions of others.”
As he continues to develop his craft, Brummel carries with him an inherent understanding that there’s a use-it-or-lose-it element to the work of writing.
“I'm not so certain whether Muses exist, although I do know there is a something that rewards persistence in writing and staying open and receptive to inspiration,” he said. “If I stop writing, stop paying attention, then whatever ‘It’ is, moves along elsewhere.”
Brummel will read his work shortly after Talking Gourds club news and updates at 6 p.m. The winners of the Rella Awards, Talking Gourds’ new youth poetry contest, have also been invited to read Tuesday evening. There will be a brief intermission and then the gourd will be passed to attendees who can share their own work or the work of poets they admire. The theme is “Snow,” though a poem of any kind is welcome.
Friday, Talking Gourds — a Telluride Institute program — announced the winners of its first Rella Awards for local youth poets. There will be an awards ceremony Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Telluride Mountain School with readings by student poet winners, as well as those who received honorable mention in the contest.
In the high school category, Telluride Mountain School student Kelly Stellmacher won for her poem “One Nod.” Stellmacher studies with TMS teacher, Emily Shoff. She will receive a $200 award.
There was a pair of winners selected in the K-9 category, Mikayla Ialeggio and Forest Olson.
Mikayla is a fourth-grade student in Sue Hehir’s class at the Telluride Intermediate School, and her poem is “The Light Blues.” Forest is a second-grader in Cici James’ class at the Telluride Elementary School. His poem is “Watching the Stars.” They will each be awarded $100.
Honorable Mention winners are Delaney Spires, Ruby McHarg, Gabriel Waldor, Siri Shoff, Charlotte Guest, Ellery Welch, Jula Cieciuch, Breton Hampton, Lana Kenworthy, Peter Calderon, Rita Hynes, Miles Silbergeld and Finnegan Smith, and Abigail Pepper Tyson.
In its inaugural year, the contest garnered 81 entries from students in grades K-11. The winning poems and the honorable mention poems can be read at the Telluride Institute website: tellurideinstitute.org/rella-awards
The contest was named after Telluride poet and playwright, Ettore Rella. Born in Telluride in 1907, Rella studied at the University of Rome, taught at Bennington College and eventually lived in New York City.
Rella wrote a large body of plays in verse. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship and grants from the Theatre Guild and the National Foundation for the Arts. His first play, “Please Communicate,” was produced in San Francisco. Later works, “Sign of Winter” and “The Place Where We Were Born” were off-Broadway productions in New York City.
As the two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz wrote, “Ettore Rella’s work is the courageous adventure of a rich and subtle mind through the labyrinth of our time.”
For more information visit tellurideinstitute.org