Tasting the words of life | VailDaily.com

Tasting the words of life

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyRosemerry Wahtola Trommer kicks off the Festival of Words.

“I’m obsessed with words, have always been obsessed with words,” she said.

And not just words in English. Some of her poems are based on words from other languages, some spiral out from her own made-up words, like lunaria.

“When I was in eighth grade, I remember being very interested in the word “sometimes,'” she explained. “It was so symmetrical, and very stunning.”

She was in a confirmation class at the time, the the priest leading the class discerned her interest. He bought her a book of poems by E.E. Cummings. And the rest is history.

Though she writes her poems on paper, the sound of the words is of utmost importance to the writer.

“For me, poetry really is an oral art,” she said. “So much of the pleasure of poetry is listening to a poem performed, especially in the author’s voice. … And tasting the words before they come out. That’s why I enjoy performances.”

And so she not only has two books, “Lunaria” and “If You Listen: Poetry and Photographs of the San Juan Mountains,” but she also has a CD of poems and songs, “The Nature of Love.”

On the album, she doesn’t limit herself to English.

“One thing that happens when we listen to other languages, is our minds get tuned in to a completely different way of hearing,” said Trommer. “I like listening to the sound of other languages, I think it helps us prepare our ears and receive the poems.”

For Wine and Wit, she’s coming to Vail with two poetic friends, Art Goodtimes and Ellen Metrick. They will each perform poems solo and together. They’ve worked together often in the past. All of them feel that poetry is applicable to contemporary life.

“It’s more relevant now than ever,” said Trommer. “I think poetry allows us another way to understand the world, it’s another way of knowing things aside from facts and news. Poetry is the language of human emotions. I think poems at their core are trying to get to the base of: What does it mean to be a human?”

Though she feels humans are currently being seen at their worst, with terrorism, and at their most scared, with SARS and AIDS. Poetry gives a shape to the madness and creates a bridge between human emotions and the outside world.

For all three poets, the bridge is the natural world.

“That’s the power of poetry,” she said. “To take the human emotions and marry it to the world around us – that’s particularly necessary, especially now.”

Trommer is adamant that poets should be of the people and for the people, not sequestered from the sometimes messy world in an ivory tower. She hopes to help bring poetry back into people’s daily lives.

“If we’re not in the thick of it, then we’re not doing our jobs,” she said. “I think that at some point people began to feel the poets weren’t speaking for them. So they stopped reading it because it stopped feeling relevant, and started to feel threatening.”

Trommer teaches positive thinking through her poetry. Her specialty is helping people tap into their own wisdom, and apply that to their personal and professional lives. She sums it up as thinking poetically.

“It doesn’t mean you have to write a poem about it,” she said. “To live a poetic life means you’re available to making meaning. So many of us struggle with feeling that we don’t have a purpose, and poetry, the tools of poetry, allow us to find the purpose, to find meaning, to know how to look for it.”

The poetry of the Word Woman validates her own existence, and others’ too, no matter what language it’s in.

For more information on Wine and Wit and the Festival of Words, contact the Vail Symposium at 476-0954.

“People should expect to A, have a great time, and B, be surprised,” said Trommer. “Like Emily Dickenson put it, she knows it’s a really good poem if people’s heads blow off. So expect to have your head blown off.”


In the wide meadow of the common moment

love grows like dandelions, deep rooted,

golden, and not always wanted.


You find the dark pond

in my belly and breathe

into its muck

and black truckloads of rotten leaves

rot faster,

compost as they should,

and the fish swim again

and the crawdads skitter

and the cattails loosen

their white wishes to the wind

and I, warm-skinned,

jump into your smile

and swim.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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