Fischer Prize for Poetry: Michelle Bitting Wins

Fischer Prize for Poetry: Michelle Bitting Wins

Michelle Bitting, Poet Laureate Emerita of Pacific Palisades, California, won the 21st Annual Fischer Prize in Poetry with her poem, “Everything Crumbling Becoming Something New.” Chosen by Judge Joan Logghe of Española, Bitting attended the awards ceremony and received her $1000 prize at the Telluride Literary Arts Festival this spring. Call 970-729-0220 (voice or text, but no voicemail please) or visit the Gourds website here.

Michelle Bitting wins 2018 Fischer Prize.

Finishing her Ph.D. in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Michelle Bitting will be a lecturer at Loyola Marymount University this fall. A well-known figure in the Southern California scene, she has won numerous awards for her poetry and been widely published.

Also attending the ceremony was Jane Hilberry, professor of English at Colorado College and Ph. D. graduate of Indiana University. Hilberry won the newly-established $500 Cantor Award for the best poem submitted by a Colorado poet, “Beginning with a Line from Paul Monette,” also was a finalist for the Fischer Prize.

Other Fischer finalists included Jose Alcantara of Carbondale, Colorado, with “Lady in Rags”; Claire Blotter of Novato, California, with “Rocking’; Devreaux Baker of Mendocino, California, with “Breathing Water, Swimming Air”; and Elizabeth Jacobson of Miami Beach, Florida, with “Birds Eating Cherries From the Very Old Tree.”

All the poems are available for viewing here. 

The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program continues its two-decade tradition of offering a national Fischer Prize contest in honor of attorney/poet Mark Fischer, who died in the ‘80s, and his wife, politician/painter Elaine Cantor Fischer, who passed away just three years ago.

The 22nd Fischer Prize contest will begin this fall. Once again the Institute will be offering $1000 first prize award in the national contest and five $200 finalist awards for selected poems. Additionally, a $500 Cantor Award will be made for the best poem submitted by a Colorado poet.

Winners receive their prizes at the Telluride Literary Arts Festival in mid-May in Telluride. A $500 travel allowance for the Fischer Prize winner to attend the festival and five $100 travel allowances for finalists and the Cantor Award winner will be available. May 18, 2019 is the date for the annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival, where the Fischer Prize will be awarded.

Judge for the 22nd Annual Fischer Prize contest will be Rafael Jesús González, Poet Laureate of Berkeley (CA). Visit his website at.

Talking Gourds is a poetry program of the Telluride Institute. Its website has changed and is now located here.


Inspired by San Juan Mountains, climber, skier, and deep ecologist, the late Dolores LaChapelle, Talking Gourds is currently 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 multiple projects acting 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 biannual San Miguel County Poet Laureate nomination, the annual MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and the poetry component of the annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival.

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

And the current San Miguel County Poet Laureate is Elissa Dickson of Telluride.

August 18 is the date for the annual MycoLicious MycoLuscious MycoLogical Poetry Show at the Sheridan Opera House in the middle of the Telluride Mushroom Festival this year.


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 o 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. 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.

“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.

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, Susan & Clint Viebrock, David Oyster, Michael Olschewsky, Ruth Duffy.

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