Telluride Institute: Announcing Student Winners Of Rella Awards

Ed Brummel of Salida and the student winners of the Retta Award are featured at the January Talking Gourds Poetry Club, a Telluride Institute initiative. Reading takes place Tuesday January 14., 6 p.m,. at Telluride Arts HQ. Free and open to all. For more info on the student program and more, visit the Talking Gourds website and read on.

The Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds poetry program announced the winners of a local school district student poetry competition: Kelly Stellmacher in the High School category, and co-winners Mikayla Ialeggio and Forest Olson in the K-9 category. Stellmacher receives a $200 award; Ialeggio and Olson get $100 each.

Stellmacher is a student of Emily Shoff of the Telluride Mountain School (TMS). Her poem is titled “One Nod.” Ialeggio is a Fourth Grade student of Sue Hehir at the Telluride Intermediate School (TIS). Her poem is “The Light Blues.” Olson is a Second Grade student of Cici James at the Telluride Elementary School. His poem is “Watching the Stars.”

An awards ceremony is scheduled to be held Tuesday January 14, 4 p.m., at the Telluride Mountain School with readings by student poet winners, as well as those who received Honorable Mention in the contest.

Honorable Mention winners are:

Delaney Spires, “To Write.” (Junior, Telluride High School, Bonnie Emerick)
Ruby McHarg, “No More Wolves.” (Frosh, TMS, Mary Hearding)
Gabriel Waldor, “A Study on the Human Condition.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Siri Shoff, “Where Does Santa Go?” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Charlotte Guest, “Shoes.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Ellery Welch, “Tucked Away.” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Jula Cieciuch, “Passion.” (7th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Breton Hampton, “Fire Fly.” (8th Grade, TMS, Hearding)
Lana Kenworthy, “Polar Bear.” (6th Grade, TIS, Caroline Farkouh)
Peter Calderon, “Snowstorm.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)
Rita Hynes, “Fire.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)
Miles Silbergeld & Finnegan Smith, “Inside a Snow Globe.” (4th Grade, TIS, Hehir)
Abigail Pepper Tyson, “Turquoise.” (4th Grade, TIS, Jill Anderson)

In all there were 81 entries from high school juniors to a kindergarten student. The winning poems and the honorable mention poems are in the process of being uploaded to the Telluride Institute website here.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Bardwell Donachy Family Fund and help from Peter Waldor, Talking Gourds was able to initiate this student poetry contest this year. The intent is to make it an annual event.

Born in Telluride in 1907, Rella studied at the University of Rome, taught at Bennington College, and eventually lived in New York City. As he explains it in the introduction to one of his books:

“My most exciting times as a child in the mining camp up near timberline in the Rocky Mountains were those when I would get my first look at some species of wild animal – right there before me for that breathless moment. The animal, each time, was to me so incredibly and intolerably real that as soon as it had darted off I could hardly believe I had seen it. But I also knew that this animal was to be in my head forever – fabulous and in precise detail, as if I had seen it through a telescope…

“My intense reaction to these sudden discoveries in some open patch in the woods way up above the town has always been related, for me, to my recognition of poetry. It is also, I am sure, deeply related to my interest in the theater – and more completely, to my particular attitude to life as a whole. It was all already there to be seen and felt in those open patches in the woods: the tension of the amazing revelation in the concentrated light – and the claustrophobic coming in upon the light from the dark and inscrutable periphery.”

Rella wrote a large body of plays in verse. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship and grants from the Theatre Guild and the National Foundation for the Arts.  His first play, “Please Communicate” was produced in San Francisco. Later works, “Sign of Winter” and “The Place Where We Were Born” were off-Broadway productions staged in New York City.

As the two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz wrote, “Ettore Rella’s work is the courageous adventure of a rich and subtle mind through the labyrinth of our time.”

Student winners will be invited to read their poems at the Talking Gourds Poetry Club meeting that same evening, Tuesday, January 14, 6 p.m., at the Telluride Arts Gallery HQ across Pacific St. from the Wilkinson Public Library. Featured guest reader will be Eduardo Rey Brummel of Salida. The theme prompt for the evening will be “Snow.”

Our next featured reader will by Kyce Bello of Santa Fe on February 11th (with a storm date of February 18 if the event on the 11th get snowed out).

For more information, contact Art Goodtimes at 970-729-0220, by text (no voicemail). Or


Inspired by the late Way of the Mountain climber, skier, and deep ecologist 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, and Galaxy Dancer is our administrative assistant.

Our partners in lyric high crimes & misdemeanors include Daiva Chesonis of Between-the-Covers Bookstore; Elissa Dickson, Laura Colbert, Gloria Chavira and Sarah Landeryou of the Wilkinson Public Library; Molly Daniel, Brooke Einbender, and Kate Jones at Telluride Arts; and our friends over at the Ah-Ha School for the Arts.

We are indebted to the Cantor Family, Wu Xing, current and former Telluride Institute board trustees, Joan Shapiro, the Bardwell Donachy Family and our Club members for their generosity.

The Talking Gourds program includes a number of existing projects where it acts as lead agency or as collaborative partner:

• The national Fischer Prize and Colorado’s Cantor Award in poetry
• A monthly Telluride Poetry Club with featured guest poets from around the region
• The annual Mushroom Fest’s MycoLuscious MycoLicious MycoLogical Poetry Show
• The annual Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Poetry Achievement in Colorado (awarded at the Gunnison Valley Literary Festival)
• The biannual Western Slope Poet Laureate selection
• The biannual San Miguel County Poetry Laureate recommendation
• The occasional pop-up Guest Gourds performances for Club members
• And other initiatives and collaborations

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