Poetry Winner in Telluride
The Mark Fischer poetry award-winners were announced last weekend. This year there were 100 entries to pick from, a huge number; the award is named for late Telluride resident and poet Fischer, known for his love of wit and wordplay, and open to residents from the Four Corners states. Kyle Harvey, winner of last year’s contest (and thus, this year’s judge) had a difficult time picking a winner: “Though limited to choosing but a few winning poems, there were many fantastic submissions.” Natasha Saje took first place for “Tinguage,” Frank Coons was awarded second prize for “Abecedarian with Noah,” and Patrick G. Metoyer got third for “what price bananas.”
And then there were the three runners-up: a poem by Marissa Mattys and two more by Saje. Fair to say Saje, a Salt Lake City English professor and author of three poetry books and many essays, swept the awards. About her winning entry,.’ The language within the poem itself is playful…alliterations littered throughout, assonance and consonance strewn about.” He loved the ending: said Kyle Harvey, “I was immediately drawn in by the poem’s curious title, Tinguage, and then, even more so, by the poem’s epigraph of sorts, hapax legomenon, Greek for ‘something said only once.’ The language within the poem itself is playful…alliterations littered throughout, assonance and consonance strewn about.” He especially liked its ending, “It’s not lex, not law/But logos, the tabor and talisman of love.” “Yes, logos, the complete and divine order of the universe. Yes, the magic of love and its beating drum,” Harvey said. “Yet, rather than answering all of my questions or making declarations, Natasha Saje’s ‘Tinguage’ is a poem of complexity, deepening the meaning for me – which I find to be one of this poem’s most exciting qualities.”
I’m never sure whether learning a poet’s biography allows me to appreciate their writing more, or if the work alone should be allowed to speak for itself. (Does it help to know T.S. Eliot composed part of The Wasteland from a sanitarium? Does it make a difference who Shakespeare was?) But I did read up on Naje; her story is compelling. She’s an accomplished essayist, and has written about her life both on her website and in a searing edition of the New York Times column Modern Love. I also watched her recite “H,” which got a Mark Fischer Honorable Mention, on YouTube (“…if the world can’t call a hunky-dory to the hurly-burly, let it hara-kiri, if it dares”).
I found myself in the same place Kyle Harvey was, only with the addition of biography: Saje’s words about her life in prose deepened her poetry’s meaning and complexity. This is from Vivarium (Tupelo Press).
What you do to me. With me. What I’ve
Learned to do with you. A language
Of bliss, a sublingual, interlingual,
Bilingual tale that lasts from labial
Lark through the long light of dawn.
A trickle of terroir layered in taste, liquid
As thirst. More than touch, less than labor,
This lesson in tilt and lather. The tang of a lyre
Of skin, a lick of liberal tact in tandem.
Our own langue d’oc, turtled in time
And tinkered by thrill. It’s not lex, not law –
But logos, the tabor and talisman of love.
Great Old Broads at Mountainfilm
The theme of this year’s Mountainfilm festival is Wilderness, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Do you know who suggested it, though? Members of the advocacy group Great Old Broads for Wilderness came up with the idea – and Mountainfilm brass agreed.
As it happens, the Broads are celebrating their 25th anniversary, so their own commemoration, the Wilderness Act and Mountainfilm’s agenda all “dovetailed perfectly,” said membership coordinator Ellen Stein. The Broads are neither all female (twenty-five percent of their members are men) nor all old (“just broad-minded,” Stein said). They are, however, impressively educated – see their CVs at greatoldbroads.org/about-the-broads/staff/ – and intensely passionate about preserving the wild places. The group’s Executive Director Shelley Silbert will speak at a Friday afternoon symposium entitled What Now, along with Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams, the Wild Foundation’s President Vance Martin and Hillary Cooper from the Sheep Mountain Alliance, on “how to turn inspiration into action.” After the Symposium, Silbert and Stein will gather at an anniversary fete for the Broads, at a residence in downtown Telluride to which the public is invited. The group is 4,500-members strong; most reside in the Four Corners area and California. If you’d like to attend Friday’s gathering and learn more, phone Stein or email her (970/749-8327; email@example.com). To learn more about the group’s busy summer agenda and how to get involved, visit greatoldbroads.org.
San Juan Shuffle in Ridgway; Blues Train in Durango
Two events worth mentioning are on the horizon. Both are repeats from last year back again because they were so successful. The Durango Blues Train, an evening of live blues and beverages aboard the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge, has added a second weekend this year. At press time, seats were still available for May 30-31 and August 22-23. This weekend’s train rides feature different musicians each night; on Friday, for example, the New Orleans band Big Sam’s Funky Nation will play in one car, and Kipori Woods, also from the Big Easy and a “triple-threat guitarist, vocalist and songwriter…with an exciting stage act,” according to critic Andrew Hamilton on AllMusic.com, will play another. Visit durangobluestrain.com for the complete lineup. Also next weekend, in Ridgway, a reprise of the San Juan Shuffle: a $20 tasting tour of 10 local restaurants beginning at 3 p.m. The Shuffle starts at the Ridgway Visitor’s Center, where Thai Paradise – too small to accommodate the number of visitors anticipated for this year’s event – will offer three appetizers. “We’ll also have wine,” said event coordinator Gayle Ingram. From there the tour shuffles along (they hope you will walk rather than drive) to several local restaurants, a coffee shop and an ice cream shop. It wraps at Trail Town Still, where the owner, Dr. Joe Alaimo, will proffer small-batch, handcrafted vodka, gin, rum and/or Colorado Agave Liquor Desert Water, plus mixers, or homemade ginger ale. There’ll also be music. The 8 p.m. cutoff doesn’t apply here: Dr. Joe “hopes you will stay and buy more drinks,” Ingram said. Proceeds will be split among participating venues. For more information, visit town.ridgway.co.us/.