UP BEAR CREEK | Off-Season Thrills and Trills

04/25/14 | By | More

TISH ROO … She’s coming up from the Rez to spin some words our way, English and Diné. She’s played Telluride before, usually as part of a trio. But this time’s she going solo … Arroyo’s around 6 p.m. May 6 – the first Tuesday of the month … And if you bring something to read for the gourds circle after, the theme this month is WIND.

POETRY … Now, there’s an item head that will scare away most readers … Many of us as magical children were convinced out of appreciating complex language used skillfully (or not). Poetry for us had to be comprehended and then vetted, for grades, under the accepted canon of scholastic English then in vogue. While American pedagogy may have steered many of its students (us) towards a distaste for poetry, there’s a bigger bugaboo … Even the oldest of us have lived our whole lives assaulted by language – jingles, orders, bubblegum ads, instruction manuals, headlines, TV anchors, Netflix, Hollywood, computer screens, smart phones. Why would you want to wade into some wild loner’s chapbook of stilted stylized lines-on-a-page for deep thinking? … For exactly that. Deep thinking! … Towards the end of her life, Dolores LaChapelle began to dislike the word “deep.” No doubt she’d picked up on a dissonant connotation as the New Age High Church version of “wow” – especially when conjoined with that lowbrow but meaning-packed utility fielder “shit” … She preferred the Italian “profundo” – as much for the sound’s other-worldly exoticism as for the word’s stuffy English translation “profound.” But I say deep thinking because that’s what I mean … Of course, we’re always thinking, or (some of us) trying to meditate our way into no thought. But Dolores would prefer us to exercise our body-minds. Reading, Listening, Performing poetry as a regular practice – using the moiré screen of language to express one’s personal deepest truths and outer world observations and craftings of deep thought … I fell in with poetry because I started out with deep thoughts about a lot of things. Too many to shutter my eyes into some single focus departmental specialty. As a sunny Leo, curiosity gave me a run on those promised nine lives. Poets didn’t put blinders on their spirit horses. They let them run free. And wild. Which suited the outlaw temperament my parents cultivated into two of their three boys, my Hell’s Angel bro Dirty Doug and Haight hippie me … But beyond the discipline itself or its proclivities for attracting certain counterculture types, poetry has the ability to astound an audience in a way that only happens in my experience at a play, or a concert, or a wilderness campfire. Out in the immediacy of the world – Heidegger’s dasein  – not cocooned in a favorite chair, attic or public library… Poetry in the hands of a skilled performer is deep thinking. It’s where something grabs your brain so hard you have to stop and think it back together a bit, before you’re on your way. Or, in those rare but marvelous occurrences, when you ARE cocooned and you pick up a poem by someone you’ve never heard of and their use of language to tell a story, charm a song or mood or dance, strikes personal gold. Eureka! … Dolores gave me the opportunity to understand that reading and hearing and performing poetry were all about equally important. At least for the bardic practice that she discussed in Sacred Land Sacred Sex Rapture of the Deep. Which is why the Talking Gourds poetry club has been so wonderful in my life . It’s a place where writers or readers get to do all three, particularly those who prep for the monthly theme … Of course, it helps that the place is Sean Murphy’s elegant Arroyo Wine Bar & Gallery on Colorado Avenue next to Timberline Hardware. And that our new local non-profit Telluride Literary Arts has teamed up with the Telluride Institute, the Wilkinson Library, Between-the-Covers Bookstore, Ah Haa School for the Arts, and Telluride Arts to put on events like Talking Gourds and the new Telluride Literary Arts Festival coming in May. We even have our own website which pops up when you google Telluride Literary Arts … If you’ve never felt a civic responsibility to do public service (or a cursed desire to mount a political campaign), you may not understand how all-consuming local political office can be. It pulls you into many areas of society and forces you to become something of an expert – expert enough to make decisions on behalf of (in the case of county government which I’ve represented for 17 years) 7000-plus people who call San Miguel County home. It suits my curious nature. But it’s a big responsibility and at times it’s exhausting and stressful and even unfortunate. I don’t think I could have grieved for all my family gone (except kids and co-parents) in these last few years, if I didn’t have a poetry practice to complement my political duties … Before she passed, Dolores would talk about America’s future as “hopeless.” Intellectually, her mind-brain couldn’t see a way out of the traps we’d fallen into as a society. But in her body-brain, she always lived with hope, and wrote, and spoke with the idea that whatever the outcome, she’d contributed her part towards seven generations yet to come … That’s the kind of deep thinking I’m talking about.




I build a fire. Make food. Sneeze

Without notice, twice.


Did your heart stop?

No. Did the world stop?


Not a chance, but there

For two moments


I might have missed something.


- Jack Mueller

from Amor Fati

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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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