Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, fruit farmer and two-term former poet laureate of San Miguel County, drops her small daughter Vivie at ballet class in Telluride. It’s the full-on cute, pink scene.
“They make you wear pink,” Trommer explains, a little apologetically, before breaking into laughter. “They have a dress code. You have to have pink tights, pink shoes, pink leotard and a little pink flouncy thing.”
Moms and their friends are not allowed to stay and watch the class, which Trommer totally gets – “I think that kids would be so self-conscious in a writing class, if their moms were there,” she speculates, “‘Come on, honey, you can do it!’” – and there’s no place to sit down for a cup of coffee near the ballet studio, in the hinterland surrounding Carhenge at the bottom of Lift 7.
So we improvise, walking and talking through the crisp cold winter morning, searching for a place to sit in the sun and chat about Rumi, the Sufi mystic poet born on the eastern shores of the Persian Empire on Sept. 30, 1207. He was, Trommer says, “an explorer of all nuances of the gorgeous drama of the soul’s journey to God.”
A friend passes by, headed in the opposite direction. She’s off to get some “me time,” she announces cheerfully to Trommer, before grading a stack of papers.
“It’s such an interesting concept – me time,” the tall slender poet with the long brown hair, whose name is a blending of her two grandmothers’ names, ruminates as we keep pace with one another. “Like, I’ve thought about that. First of all, it implies the rest of the time isn’t yours. Right? Now, that’s a strange idea. The other thing is about how I fill up my time with cooking and knitting and writing and whatever. Cleaning and working. Instead of what the most obvious ‘me time’ would be – sitting all alone, with myself. Like, really me time. Not me and Knitting. Not me and Bread. Not me and Typing. Me. I think I’ve spent a lifetime running away from that. I’m only now just starting to see, that might be really important.”
We find a bench on the sidewalk, not far from the creek, and sit there together as locals trudge past in their ski boots on their way to the slopes, and delivery trucks and busses rumble along, brakes squealing.
It is a Rumi moment – the sacred, and the mundane, all mixed up in a sweetly dangerous jumble. Like an excerpt from one of the poems Trommer included in her newly published 50-page chap book, The Miracle Already Happening: everyday life with Rumi (Liquid Light Press, 2011):
Waiting for an hour
beside the Walmart parking lot,
one hundred degrees and rising,
it is easy to believe that nothing
is holy. Not the asphalt, not the floral flip-flops
on the shuffling feet that pass,
not the gum on our soles nor the cigarette butts
that litter the concrete gutter. Harder to believe
that everything leads us toward god – even
this vast emptiness inside me, some place
I have tried to pave over, have tried to fill with post-its and notebooks,
have tried to scurry across or write off as a wasteland.
(from “Rather to Be Hiking on the Mountaintop, But”)
It was a cinch that Rumi and Trommer would meet one day – his centuries-old ecstatic ghazals that sing through time to our modern souls, her light-drenched poems of honesty, wisdom and wonder. But the story of their introduction is worth repeating.
“It was fall. Santa Barbara. 2010. And Rumi, the Sufi poet, was hanging out with a roomful of cheerleaders,” Trommer writes in the preface to her new book. “At least he was in a poem I heard that afternoon by fellow poet, Barry Spacks.”
“The joint reading at the Mission began an enduring poetic camaraderie with Barry,” she continues. “It also began a new friendship of sorts with Rumi. Inspired by Barry’s anachronism and playfulness, I began to envision the 13th century mystic waxing ecstatic about union with the beloved while I was in my son’s kindergarten classroom, at the beach or at karate. And everywhere I am able to picture Rumi, he shows me where I’m closed-minded, judgmental, or stuck and suggests new ways to see the world.”
The poems beckon playfully, sometimes wistfully or in a “howling hurt,” from between the covers, reassuring readers that there’s nothing to fear, and quite a lot they might recognize as true within their own experience of being, in the poetic experience they’re about to enter.
Here’s how Trommer makes it all happen, the parenting and the fruit orchard, the poem-a-day practice she’s cultivated for seven years, the poetry blog and the teaching gigs, the Telluride Writers Guild and the Talking Gourds, the eight books of poetry she’s penned, the Rose and the Merry:
“I just write when they’re asleep. I’m a night writer.”
These days, Rumi sits cross-legged on top of her head, or laughs from a couch across the room, in a “dark night still life” while she writes. “He’s still so relevant,” she says. “I think that’s what is so exciting for me.”
Upcoming Workshops and Appearances
In Telluride, meanwhile, Trommer is the co-host (alongside Art Goodtimes) of the monthly Talking Gourds Poetry Series, held at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at Wilkinson Public Library. The series includes a 30-minute open mic followed by a featured reader; coming up on Feb. 7, it’s Ridgway poet Kierstin Bridger. Programs also include music performances, visual art and food. The evening is a way for people to join their voices in the big conversation that’s been going on since before we humans could write. The program is streamed live via Telluride TV and a discussion follows the reading at Between the Covers every Wednesday at 10 a.m. with the featured writer. In the next few months, courses in creative writing that tie into the readings will be offered through University Centers of the San Miguel.
For more information, contact Scott Doser, 728-6613
The Miracle Already Happening: everyday life with Rumi and other books by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer are available at regional bookstores, including Between the Covers in Telluride and Cimarron Books & Coffee in Ridgway. Visit Trommer’s website www.wordwoman.com for more information.
Trommer offers three poetry workshops in Ouray County through Weehawken Creative Arts in coming months:
Leaping: How to Wildly Advance Your Writing
Weehawken Ridgway, Wednesdays, Feb. 1-29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Write a poem a day. Let's play.
Lost in Motherland: Writing to Discover Who We Are
Weehawken Ridgway, Wednesdays, March 7-28, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Join Trommer and fellow mother and writer Ellen Marie Metrick in a writing practice that also includes moving meditation, mapping, reading and other pathways that help us reorient ourselves and meet the moment as it is.
Writing Toward Awakening
Weehawken Ouray, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, April 28 – A day of reading and writing about spiritual paths, for anyone who is curious about weaving spiritual awakening and the creative poetic impulse.
Visit www.weehawkenarts.org to register.