R.J. RUBADEAU … Had to drive to Telluride twice in one day last week to catch one of my favorite local authors making his maiden voyage into serious literary waters with a crackling good reading at the Wilkinson … Bob (whose better half is retiring after a good many impressive years at the helm of the Telluride School) had two new books out in the world from different publishers – Bound for Roque Island: Sailing Maine and the World (Bascom Hill Publ. Group, Minneapolis, 2010) and Gatsby’s Last Resort: A Telluride Murder Mystery (Beacon Hill Publishers, Telluride, 2010) … I’m reading the first, and it’s deliciously well-written. The second’s a first attempt by the locals to cooperatively produce a very professional tome locally – that’s a whole story in itself … Both available at (our locally-owned) Between the Covers.
TELLURIDE CHORAL SOCIETY … Back when John Yankee was the inspired impresario of our local choristers, I got to sing second bass with the best. It was demanding, stimulating and a lot of fun, but ultimately impractical for a person as busy as I who makes his primary home in Norwood. Still, I developed a San Juan-sized respect for choral performance … I was pleased to see Rhonda Muckerman wielding the baton for this year’s Wintersing Family Night show “From Darkness to Light.” The various choirs – Omni Voce, Emanon, Chamber Singers, etc. – did a marvelous job, but most impressive of all, for me, was the performance of our own Dalen Stevens’ original piece inspired by the old Christmas favorite "Silent Night." A beautiful piece in three parts and a lovely performance … Kudos to Dalen, Rhonda and all the members of our wonderful local choir groups.
FARMINGTON … Was delighted to be invited down to the sumptuous Farmington Public Library to share a poetry stage with my fellow anthologized bards from the newly published New Poets of the American West edited by Lowell Jaeger (Many Voices Press, Montana, 2010) … The Northwest New Mexico Arts Council teamed up with the Library to host the event, which included event organizer Venaya J. Yazzie (Diné of the Manyhogans Clan/Hopi), a poet and painter whose family lives at the foot of Huerfano Peak and who attends the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque as a graduate student in Teacher Education; Tacey Atsitty (Diné of the Sleep Rock People / born for the Tangle People from Arizona), a poet attending Cornell University as an MFA graduate student who recently won a Truman Capote Writing Fellowship; Tucson’s first poet laureate now living in Durango, William Pitt Root; his wife Pamela Uschuk, American Book Award winner and professor at Ft. Lewis College in Durango; and yours truly.
SHERWIN BITSUI … Best of all, after performing in Farmington, we got to drive a few miles to the Bloomfield High School to hear acclaimed Diné poets Sherwin Bitsui and Orlando White perform, as well as experience a fascinating lecture on Navajo poetry in English and Diné by Southern Illinois University’s anthropological linguist Dr. Anthony K. Webster – all part of a program titled “Celebrating Navajo Poetry” sponsored by the Bloomfield High School English Department, the Nashdoi Club and the Bisti Writing Project … Sherwin combines modern styles and techniques to bridge the gulf between his two languages, two cultures, the historical realities of our present moment and the victor/vanquished past we all share. He has two excellent books out, Shapeshift (Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2003) and the book he read from in Bloomfield Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA, 2009) … Highly recommended.
ORLANDO WHITE … With an MFA from Brown University, Orlando teaches at Diné College in Arizona, where he lives, and has a first book out, Bone Light (Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA, 2009). He’s published in some excellent magazines, and has focused on the English alphabet – writing dazzling meditations on the history, shape, pictorial antecedents and insinuations of the letters in our own writing system, all with the sensibilities of his Diné heritage … As it turns out, Orlando and I first met some 10 years ago in Bluff, at a poetry event there, when I first got to hear him read … In Bloomfireld, Orlando had a captivating visual concrete poetry powerpoint to accompany his reading. It’s wonderful to see young Navajo poets exploring avant-garde English traditions to share their own Rez culture and sensibilities … Highly recommended.
THE TALKING GOURD
Sun’s slow burn
irradiates the Ajax skyline
as our own stellar
oozes & Oz’s its way onto
high peak industrial tourism
in a fanfare of pink-palmed
The riprap of real estate