Renee

Renee Podunovich, the 2019 Cantor Award Winner for best poem by a Coloradoan in the Fischer Prize contest, is the guest Tuesday evening at the monthly Gourds’ reading at 7 p.m. Register by Monday at telluridelibrary.org/events for a link if you’d like to attend. (Courtesy photo)

“Things are so far apart, light years and galaxies, your life and mine,” the poet Renee Podunovich has written.

“Yet this morning, everything is suspended in the prehistoric dark/the thick lagoon of the cosmos/aquatic universe, sparkling stillness, quiet./Nothing but the churning mind/nothing to do but sit as witness/to the rising and falling/the clinging and letting go/the chronic bubbling up and drifting away/of awareness.”

The poem, “If There is a Center, No One Knows Where It Begins,” is the title of Podunovich’s first book, published by Art Juice Press in 2008, light years away (or so it seems) from the pandemic.

And yet, poetry-as-practice — as nourishment for the soul, as inspiration and motivation — has sustained lovers of words over this past year-and-a-half: meeting on Zoom this past year has allowed the Telluride Institute’s Bardic Trails Poetry Group to welcome guest readers from anyplace in the world, and keep everyone safe at the same time. Podunovich, the 2019 Cantor Award Winner for best poem by a Coloradoan in the Fischer Prize contest, is the guest Tuesday evening at the monthly Gourds’ reading at 7 p.m. (register by Monday at telluridelibrary.org/events for a link if you’d like to attend).

Cofounded by San Miguel County poets Art Goodtimes and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Bardic Trails will host two more online readings in 2021. On Nov. 2, Debbi Brody of New Mexico will be the guest, and poet Al Zolynas of California will read on Dec. 7.

As for Tuesday’s reading, as writer Cynthia West has said of Podnuovich, she “returns from journeys beyond the daily world with medicine which explodes in us ‘with no limits, other than the filter of our hearts.’”

For years, Rosemerry Trommer has written a poem roughly every 24 hours in “the daily world.” She’s instructed this region’s many admirers of her — her classes typically sell out in advance of when they are offered — in both reading poetry, and writing it. Her newest class, “Leaping: How to Wildly Advance Your Writing” begins Oct. 13.

“Absolutely no prior poetry knowledge is necessary to take this class,” Trommer emphasized in an email to the Daily Planet. “I will supply prompts and also accountability, plus lots of ideas about how to meet the blank in a way that feels playful and non-threatening.”

Trommer’s intention to instruct others seems remarkable when you consider that she’s navigating tragedy (“I’ve been cocooned by grief and love,” as she put it).

She said writing has helped.

“I believe that the daily poem practice for 15 years has been in large part what has allowed me to meet this difficult time in life — to be able to meet it all, to feel it all, to stay open to it. I have never been more convinced that a poetry practice is one of the most valuable ways to be in the world,” Trommer explained. “It’s so beyond the poem — the poem is merely an artifact, a by-product of the real gift, which is the process, the practice of showing up.

“In fact, the surprise of the poem-a-day practice is that it isn’t that hard,” Trommer went on. “That once we commit to sitting down and writing every day, that commitment carries us. I fall back on this promise that I made to myself for years — it doesn’t have to be good, but it has to be true. That helps me every time I sit down to a blank page. All I have to do is write the next true thing, and then the next, and then the next. That authenticity and curiosity is what fuels epiphany, and the thrill of learning and unlearning is what keeps me coming back to the blank page every day.”

Trommer hosts a podcast on writing and creativity, “The Emerging Form,” with fellow award-winning scribe (and good friend) Christie Aschwanden, who has also recently endured trauma. They describe their most recent episode, on Sept. 16, as the most difficult they’ve ever done.

“A little more than half way through this broadcast, I bow to each of you,” a listener commented. “What a deliberate act of bravery in bearing yourselves in your states of rawness and vulnerability. This podcast is a precise example of its subject. Papa Hemingway told us to ‘write hard and clear about what hurts,’ which is what each of you are doing. Onward through the slog, Christie and Rosemerry. Onward through. May I be so brave, any time in my own life.”