Wonder and exaltation, poetry and ether
An Evening of Wine and Wit swims upon the valley like a young spring breeze fragrant with the endearing flaws and fragile pleasures of sensuosity.
With the trivia and anguish of another National Tax Day gone and, hopefully, done with, Vail’s fifth annual Festival of Words begins with a refresher on the essence of being.
“The poet’s job is to observe, and then to translate those observations into words,” says poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. “And in that translation process is where all the discovery and mystery lies.”
Now, imagine Trommer’s words with a little polish, elbow grease and collaboration with kindred Telluride poets Art Goodtimes and Ellen Marie Mettrick.
“The three of us love language, love words. We love what language can do and how poetry can affect people,” said Trommer. “So, what we’re doing as a troupe – as a group of performers – is doing our best to make poetry come to life so that other people get as excited about poetry as we are.”
Goodtimes, Mettrick and Trommer join verses for the evening to perform ensemble poetry.
“We’ve created a way of working together as an ensemble. For instance, if we get together, I might say, ‘Hey. I wrote this poem about my baby’s heartbeat.’ I’m pregnant now, so I just heard my baby’s heartbeat and I wrote this poem about it,” said Trommer. “I’ll bring that poem in, and I’ll read it. Then we’ll start playing with it, and I’ll say, ‘Ellen, what if you echoed these words,’ and Art’ll say, ‘What if I did a beat underneath it that mimicked the heartbeat.’
“All of a sudden, we’ve got more than just one person reading a poem. We have three people who are re-creating an experience. So, I like to think about it like a band. It’s like we’re a band. Three different instruments working together for the same piece, it’s just that our voices are our instruments.”
More about the poets
Trommer is an active poet who has just started to read fiction again after a lengthy hiatus. She does a lot of inspirational speaking, which focuses upon self-discovery, positive attitude and personal responsibility.
“For our own happiness,” says Trommer. “
Last year marked the ensemble’s inaugural participation in Festival of Words.
“We had a ball last year,” said Trommer. “They did such a nice job putting it together – the Vail Symposium. I’m really impressed with them and the amount of excitement and enthusiasm they’re able to generate for literature … especially poetry. You know, poetry doesn’t usually have a very big following.”
The subjects the trio tackles range from light-hearted to tough. They haven’t co-written poems, though they give each other feedback.
“We do co-orchestrate,” said Trommer.
Trommer’s most-recent publication, “if you listen poems & photographs of the San Juan Mountains,” generally avoids realms of humanity, venerating the wondrous beauty of natural life. She has prepared more than one new book of poetry, including one called “Insatiable.”
“It’s coming out last December,” she says. “It’s not out. It’s my constant thorn-in-my-side for this month. I’ve been performing like a madwoman and don’t have it.”
“Insatiable” will be out in a couple of weeks.
“The poems are celebratory. I would say they’re about what it means to be a human,” she said.
Trommer nods to A.R. Ammons as her favorite poet to read.
“I read him over and over. He really got it; he heard the mountain talk to him,” she said. “And, what Ammons seemed to be able to do – and has written about – is to go out into the natural world without expectations. And I think that that’s a trap – which writers especially can get into – is going out and looking for the muse. Looking so hard to be inspired that we miss what’s right under our nose.
“I think what Ammons was able to do, was to go out into the natural world and … experience.”
Goodtimes grew up in San Francisco. He now freelances for the Telluride Watch, Telluride Magazine, Norwood Post, Mountainfreak and San Juan Silver Stage, among others, while writing and performing poetry.
“Art is, perhaps, the best performance poet in Colorado,” said Trommer. “He has a wild swirling of politics, environment and human relationships. He’s a short man with a huge presence, and has certainly been a mentor for me in terms of performing.”
Goodtimes has written five books of poems.
“To me, it seems like the poetry world, especially on the Western Slope – but in Colorado in general – is such a warm, supportive community. As opposed to, I’d say, more urban and academic settings, where it can be competitive and backstabbing,” said Trommer. “That isn’t it at all. There’s a strong sense of friendship and support. I’ve learned that from a lot of poets in Colorado, and, certainly, Art embodies that.”
Mettrick teaches at “The Wright Stuff,” an after-school and day program for students in elementary school and younger. She was recently honored with a Telluride Council on the Arts and Humanities grant for her poetry program “Write On!” She has published one chapbook.
“Her writing is really connected to the land, specifically to Wright’s Mesa where she lives. She is also a very good performer. She has a warm voice and a broad smile,” said Trommer. “I’d say that her poetry tends to be mystical, but deeply-rooted in the real. She’s a positive person and it comes through in her writing.”
The ensemble begins the performance tonight at McCoy’s in Village Hall at 7:30. Local musician Pat Hamilton will also be performing.
“All three of us draw on the natural world. In almost every poem, there’ll be references to the landscape around us, and how that relates to our inner, emotional landscape,” said Trommer. “We’re very rooted in mountain and mesa imagery. On a daily basis, I’m one of the most positive people I know. And it’s really hard not to be when you look around you here in Colorado.
“The title of my book, ‘Insatiable,’ is a line from a poem that says, ‘May my lips be insatiable and vigorous with praise.’ The idea being, ‘Let me never stop exalting this incredible world we live in. Let me never stop noticing all the wonderful things.'”
Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: An Evening of Wine and Wit, Festival of Words
When: Today, 7:309:30 p.m.; registration from 6-7:30 p.m.
Where: McCoy’s in Village Hall, Beaver Creek
Tickets: $35. $95 for three-day package – http://www.festivalofwords.org, or call 476-0954