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Playing with poetry in Edwards

Caramie SchnellVail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyPoet Rosemerry Whatola Trommer is known for performing her poetry."Performance is really important to me as a mode for sharing, for allowing the poem to leap off a page and then into peoples ears and into their hearts," Trommer said.
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EDWARDS, Colorado Some people think poetry and think heavy Emily Dickinson or T.S. Eliot and his wasteland. Its not likely that those same people connect poetry with pleasure. Thats just what poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer would like, though. Trommers objective, as stated on her resume, is to help people find the poetry in their lives. As the recently appointed poet laureate of San Miguel County and author of nine books, Trommer is in town today and Saturday; shes speaking to students at Eagle Valley High School today, giving a poetry reading at The Bookworm of Edwards tonight and leading a playshop for aspiring poets with the Vail Symposium on Saturday.

Deb Luginbuhl, a Vail Symposium board member, heard Trommer speak at the now-defunct Festival of Words, which was held in Beaver Creek until 2004.Shes a great writer, and she delivers her written word beautifully, Luginbuhl said. Sometimes you dont have that in the same package.Trommers goal is not only to change peoples perceptions of poetry but to help them find the delight inherent in the art form. Writing a poem is like taking a brief vacation in the backyard of our minds, Trommer wrote on her Web site, http://www.wordwoman.com. Although we enter a familiar world coffee machines, weeds, successes at work, unreturned love, raising children poetry reframes what is commonplace and gives us a new entry point for understanding.

Trommer believes that poetry, especially the performance poetry she often focuses on, is more relevant today than ever.People have been turned off by poetry. They think they dont understand it, that its confusing or academic or even angry or depressed. They have conceptions that make them think, Poetry? Thats not for me, Trommer said. Something poetry performed can do is open doors for people to the pleasure of poetics, she said. In our society right now, at this point in American culture, there seems to me to be a deep longing for connection to the world around us and to other people, and a lot of suffering occurs when that connection isnt made. … Really poetry is the language of connection; it connects the interior, emotional world with whats happening in the outside world.Poetry is also an efficient bridge between the two worlds, she said.Poems are usually very short, she said. You can read one right before you make dinner or while riding the elevator. Its not like a whole novel, where you have to commit a whole evening or a few. You can sit down with one poem and make that connection in minutes.

Convinced youre not a poet? Think again. Trommer believes everyone is a poet in some way and has the capacity to write. Do you write lists? So many good poems are just lists. Zimmer Imagines Heaven (by Paul Zimmer) is just a list of what heaven might be like. If you can write a list, you can write a poem.There are three secrets to writing good poetry, Trommer said. The first thing she recommends is practice. Practice is particularly important because it frees us up in a way. Lets say you only wrote one poem in the last three years. When you sit down again to write that puts a lot of pressure on you to write a really good poem. Thats debilitating looks like writers block to me.As Billy Collins, past United States poet laureate, said, If you sit in the aviary long enough, sooner or later a bird will sit on your head. These kinds of lovely masterpiece poems is what occurs when the bird does sit on your head, Troomer said. In the meantime youll probably get a fair amount of bird poop poems too, so keep trying, Trommer continued, laughing. Trommer herself wrote a poem a day for 300 days, she said.Beyond being fun and creative flexing, it also does something marvelous for your head space and Im missing it for sure. I have a toddler and a husband, Im not getting a lot of time to myself. Its lovely to have that moment, sometimes just five minutes and Id whip out the late night haiku and sometimes Id spend hours and craft a sonnet. Whether five minutes or three hours, I knew every day Id make some time for myself.Second Troomer says to read books in general as well as poetry. Examine what really works, which poems draw you in, and in those poems that draw you in, can you find the line in particular that does? What is it about that line? Is it the rhythm, the sound or is there a repitition or an image that catches you?Trommer, who teaches classes at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, was reading St. Teresa, a Spanish mystic poet, in class recently when she came across a line that resonated, she said.It was I have a lovely habit, at night in my prayers I touch everyone Ive seen that day. I shape my heart like theirs and theirs like mine. I think wow, I love that. Why do I love that so much? Then you look at it, tease it, tickle it, to figure out what makes it so resonant … when we understand, were better able to incorporate that into our own writing, she said.The final thing you need to write a good poem is experience. Part of that means being open, paying attention, Trommer said. One of my favorite poems comes from the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. He says, Youre not paying attention and if you dont pay him, you know he wont perform. Thats what I think about. People who go out into the world willing to pay attention are rewarded so richly.On Wednesday morning Trommers 3-year-old son, Finn, was paying attention, she said.He said, mom, look at the ice in the trees; it looks like smoke. Hes already paying attention and being rewarded. Its going into our world with a willingness to be sensorially present and even sensually present.High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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