Colorado’s Fischer Prize Accepting Entries Now

Colorado’s Fischer Prize Accepting Entries Now

The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program continues its 20-year tradition of offering a national Fischer Prize contest in honor of attorney/poet Mark Fischer, who died in 1987, and his wife politician/painter Elaine Cantor Fischer, who passed away just three years ago.

“Both were beloved members of our local community,” said Fischer Prize director Art Goodtimes, “and champions of the arts.”

Once again the Institute is offering $1000 first prize award and five $200 finalist awards for selected poems. Winners receive their prizes at the Telluride Literary Arts Festivalwhich opens May 19, 2018 in Telluride. A $500 travel allowance for the winner to attend the festival and five $100 travel allowances for finalists will be available.

 “And this year, thanks to a generous donation from the Cantor Family of North Carolina, ” added Goodtimes, “we will be offering a special $500 Cantor Award for a selected poem submitted by a Colorado poet in the Fischer Prize contest.”

Last year Anna Scotti from California was named the 2017 Fischer Prize winner by Chris Ransick, former Denver Poet Laureate, with her poem “Tanager” here.This year New Mexico poet Joan Logghe, former Santa Fe Poet Laureate, will be our contest judge.

Five finalists in 2017 were awarded $200 cash prizes: Anne Valley-Fox’s “Because the Road Rises to Meet their Feet”; Jennifer Rane Hancock’s “St. Mary’s Orphanage: Galveston Island, September 8, 1900″; George Perreault’s “Mr. Richardson’s Nails”; Helen Stevens Chinitz’s “After Hearing Ellen Read Tarfia Faizullah”; and James Crews’ “My Father Asks for One Last Thing.”

For contest rules, go here. Contest deadline is May 1, 2018.


Inspired by San Juan Mountains climber, skier, and deep ecologist, the late Dolores LaChapelle, Talking Gourds is a poetry program sponsored by the Telluride Institute. Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer of Placerville are co-directors.

The Talking Gourds program encompasses six projects for which it acts as lead agency or partner: the national Fischer Prize; the monthly Poetry Club; the occasional Guest Gourds; the biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection; the annual MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival; and the annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival.

Talking Gourds’ current Western Slope Poet Laureate is Dr. David J. Rothman of Crested Butte, Colorado Public Radio’s poet-in-residence.

After three years, the Traveling Gourds Tour on the Western Slope was cancelled due to admin demands that overwhelmed its volunteer staff. Instead, Gourds plans Guest Gourd, an April program featuring national slam poet and California poet-in-the-schools performer/teacher Claire Blotter. Gourds is planning to bring her to Colorado for readings at Telluride Arts Gallery in Telluride and Lithic Bookstore & Gallery in Fruita, as well as possible workshops at local schools.

Western Slope teachers interested in hosting a workshop with Blotter for elementary and/or middle school/high school students between April 21-23, 2018 should email Goodtimes at

As for Talking Gourds Poetry Club readings, February 20 showcases the dynamic Naturita Creek duo, Lithuanian-American poet Daiva Chesonis and best-selling author Craig Childs. The theme for the open Gourd Circle after the featured poets is “Birth”

The Traveling Gourds Tour makes its final appearance in March with Jennifer Rane Hancock of Grand Junction. Then, after taking its usual summer break, Gourds will continue its regular fall Poetry Club with Kathleen Cain of Denver followed by Elle Metrick of Norwood.

 May 19 marks the date for the annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival, where the Fischer Prize gets awarded.

August 17 marks the date for the annual MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Sheridan Opera House in the middle of the Telluride Mushroom Festival.

Talking Gourds programming survives through the generous support of private donors and Club members.

There is a one-time fee of $25 to join the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. That makes a person a permanent gourdita or gourdito and qualifies one as a full member in good standing for a year. There’s a cyber list available to all members for announcements of readings, festivals and contests.

“Helping Talking Gourds means that you are one of those generous supporters who believes in the importance of the literary arts on the Western Slope,” said Goodtimes.

 A $10 annual renewal fee keeps one up-to date as a full member after the first year grace period.

 Full members only have to pay half-price on all Fischer Prize contest fees. And up-to-date full membership gives one free Poetry Club broadsides when in attendance at Club meetings.

 Talking Gourds Poetry Club, the Traveling Gourds Tour and Gourd Guests are collaborative projects of the Telluride Institute in partnership with the Wilkinson Public Library, Between the Covers Bookstore, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Lithic Bookstore & Gallery, the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, Telluride Arts, the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and our club members.

 Talking Gourds is indebted to generous contributions past and present from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, the Cantor Family, the late Elaine Fischer and her anonymous friends, Peter Waldor, Audrey Marnoy, Eduardo Brummel, Daiva Chesonis, Laura Colbert, Elissa Dickson, Jess Newens, Kris Kwasniewski,

Judy Kohin, Danny Rosen, Kyle Harvey, Craig Jackman, Sean Murphy, Kate Jones, Pepper Raper, Molly Perault, Amy Brosch, Meg Nagel, Tara Miller, Sam Brown, Elle Metrick, Scott Doser, Craig Childs, Kyra Kopestonsky, Lee & Billi Taylor, Allyson Snyder, Amy Levek, Sus & Clint Viebrock, David Oyster, Michael Olschewsky, Ruth Duffy, y todas las gourditas y gouditos.

 Call 970-729-0220 (voice or text, but no voicemail please) or visit the Gourds website for more information.



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