Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Western Slope poet laureate, will be leading a class about America’s recent poet laureates at the Wilkinson Public Library beginning Tuesday, Nov. 8. (Courtesy photo)


Western Slope poet laureate Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer will be leading a series of classes titled, “Lightning Rods for the Muse: America’s Recent Poet Laureates,” over the next few weeks at Wilkinson Public Library.

The classes will delve into the work and life of the four most recent U.S. poet laureates. It will take place every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. between Nov. 8 and Dec. 13 (except for the week of Thanksgiving) at the library’s Telluride Room. 

The event is free and open to the public.

Trommer has led many poetry discussions at the library over the last 20 years, including courses about contemporary American poets, Japanese poets and mystic poets. 

The course will be comprised of group discussions that focus on the most recent laureates: Philip Levine, Natasha Trethewey, Charles Wright and Juan Felipe Herrera. 

U.S. poet laureates are elected annually by the Librarian of Congress and “represent our society through poetry,” Trommer said. “Looking at the last four poet laureates there is an effort being made to ensure a diversity of voices is being included and we will see that in this series.”

“It’s not like going to college. I won’t lecture on and on,” Trommer said about the class. “It really is a group-led exploration of the poems themselves and how they speak to us presently as Americans, and as rural citizens for that matter.”

Trommer said the class is lighthearted and focused on making poetry more relatable. “It isn’t any secret that poetry has a bad reputation in terms of people thinking they don’t understand it,” she said.

In this class, “We will read the poem to find where we have resonance, and to feel that small thrill of recognition when someone says exactly what your experience has been or speaks directly to an experience that you are curious about,” she said.

Trommer said in the past, participants have been across the board, and few people in her previous classes considered themselves poets. 

“Most of the people who come are people who really like having their hearts and minds broken open, people who are really curious about having conversations about something more engaging than the weather,” she said. 

Trommer is the third Western Slope poet laureate, a position that was created five years ago “to honor the poets on the Western Slope who are contributing to the overall poetry community,” she said. “It is a sweet invitation to consider; what else can I do with the poetry community and how can I broaden it?”

There is no need to register for the class, and there is no class limit. “We will cram them in there if we have to,” she said. 

Trommer added that the Dec. 6 class will depart from the regular format, featuring a reading by Elissa Dickson, San Miguel County poet laureate. The Dec. 6 poetry reading will be hosted by the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. 

Apart from the weekly class at the library, Trommer will teach a drop-in writing class at Ahaa School for the Arts, titled, “Shoot from the Hip, Write from the Heart” on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 from noon-1 p.m. The cost of the class is $15. 

Trommer also has an exhibition on display at Gallery 81435 titled, “In Three Lines,” a joint poetry and art exhibit featuring work by artist Jill Sabella. The showing will run through Nov. 29.