Annual Mark Fischer Prize Ups Award Ante To $1000

Celebrating its 18th year, the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize has increased its cash award to $1,000 for this year’s winning poem and opened its eligible contestants to any poet living west of the Mississippi, according to the event’s organizers, San Miguel County Commissioner Elaine Fischer and the Talking Gourds poetry program.

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“We’re pleased to be able to honor Mark’s memory with a contest that benefits Western poets,” explained Art Goodtimes, Telluride Institute board member and Talking Gourds director. “All styles and content are welcome. The wilder the better.”

By increasing the cash award and expanding the eligible pool of poets, Goodtimes hopes to draw more attention to one of Colorado’s older literary traditions. In addition, this year the prize will be given at a ceremony to be held as part of the second annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival (May 15-17, 2015).

This year’s judge will be North Beach legend Jack Mueller. A fixture in the San Francisco literary scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Mueller founded the Union of Street Poets and convened a symposium on poetics and ethnobotany at Kule Loklo in Marin. He served as chairman and executive director of the National Poetry Association, and was CEO of the International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen (TX). He’s published six books of poetry and two books of drawings. Mueller’s latest collections from Lithic Press in Fruita (CO) include Amor Fati (2013) and The Gate (2014). Writing for ZyZZyva, a prestigious West Coast literary magazine, Maggie Milner praises Mueller’s “paradox poetics” and notes that he asks the “big, unanswerable questions” and goes on “to propose new terms for our human condition, to reach, to wish.”

Mark Fischer, Telluride’s much-loved poet, lawyer, skier and raconteur, was a daring experimenter who combined a polyglot’s command of languages with a quirky sense of humor and a passion for obtuse words. In that spirit, prizes are awarded to entries that best exhibit the qualities of originality, linguistic skill and wit. Deadline for submissions is April 15 and the fee is $6 per poem. To register, go here.

Co-sponsored by Elaine Fischer and San Miguel County Poet Laureate Peter Waldor, the Mark Fischer Prize is a collaboration among the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds program, the Wilkinson Library, the Telluride Arts District, Ah Haa School for the Arts and Arroyo’s Telluride.

For more information, contact Art Goodtimes at <shroompa@gmail.com> or visit the Telluride Institute website.

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