Transforming the ordinary into extraordinary

For Colorado poets Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Beth Paulson, poetry exists everywhere. An unwanted dandelion crushed under foot, a circling raven, a child's abandoned red sand bucket, and a trembling aspen leaf, are all fodder for their work.

Inspired by mountains, rivers and deserts, Trommer, of Telluride, and Paulson, of Ouray, capture and celebrate the simple things in life. Both encourage us, the readers, to re-examine the natural world, for we may just find reflections of ourselves in nature's footprints. Thus, it is most appropriate that they share a book signing at Maria's Bookshop this Thursday, Aug. 19.

Nestled within a pale green gift box upon which an elegant flower is embossed is Trommer's latest poetry collection, Insatiable (Sisu Press). This intimate and interactive design conveys Trommer's insatiable love for life and her desire to entice both poetry aficionados and poetry-phobes. The book's title is drawn from Trommer's poem "Insatiable" and represents Trommer's hunger for life and desire to praise the beauty and mystery of the natural world: "Until we abandon these human husks of longing,/ let our eyes and ears be ravenous, let our noses be apostles,/ and let our lips be insatiable and vigorous with praise." The book begins with the poem "Transmutation," which introduces one of the unifying themes in this collection - the transience of life. The poem opens, "Every day, our bodies alter-/ new cells, new wrinkles" and ends with the aging body victoriously "making the long journey/ from flesh to nectar to wine." The ending work, "Poem for a Practical Man," humorously describes a poet's struggle to articulate in verse her love for a practical man. The solution is comical, "If poetry won't work,/ let's try glue."

Through vivid concrete images such as "the sweet smell of wheat," the "dark velvet of Kona," and "your words are like chocolate," Trommer leaves the taste of her words emblazoned upon the senses. In her exploration of the cyclical parallels between the natural and human world in "Trust," Trommer leads the reader into a deeper understanding of emotional landscapes: "Just because spring has/ come before./ Maybe this time it won't./ Maybe the cycle has failed./ Things break./ Ask my heart." In "Inscribed" Trommer invites the reader to join in a conversation with nature, "Palms forward, I gather the day/ in a great embrace/ as I, too,/ am gathered into a wider circle/ inscribed by red sandstone and sun." Many of Trommer's poems meditate upon the wonders of the natural world and serve as guide through internal and external landscapes.

Insatiable achieves balance in style and tone, bouncing between musical free verse and sonorous sonnets that are humorous, serious, sensual and spiritual. She conveys delight in playing with language, rhyme and meter in the sonnet "Making the Bed," which offers an unforgettable lesson in bed-making, ending in the clever couplet, "The knack for well made beds proves quite precise-/ But in the unmaking waits paradise." By marrying new ideas with traditional poetic forms, Trommer indeed creates verse that is sparkling and new. "At its best," Trommer says, "poetry speaks to many people," and the poems in Insatiable do this well by revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

An artist's eye for color is the guiding force behind many of Paulson's uplifting poems in The Company of Trees (Ponderosa Press) . The three sections in this work reflect her diversity and versatility. Her collection opens with "By Stone, By Water and Other Poems" which draws inspiration from cranes, coyotes and columbine, and continues with "Sometimes When I Breathe Deep" which offers fictionalized autobiographical narratives in various settings. "Straw Hats" completes this collection with a powerful tribute to the imagined lives of artists and childhood memories.

A love for the rhythms of words as well as an affinity for her surroundings characterize Paulson's poetry. Many of her poems are didactic, containing poignant lessons learned from nature. In "What the Desert Said," the water whispers, "the worth is not in what you take/ but in what you leave for others," and later in "Moths" the wind shows the reader how to "shed what was not essential (clothing, hair, skin), the parts easily broken," and "Morning: Woods Lake" asks the reader to "listen/ for the lake to reveal/ any other miracles."

Like Trommer, Paulson sees the sublime in trash and encourages the reader to find splendor in unlikely places. For example, her poem "Except for Crows" challenges traditional ideals of beauty by praising the crow, "slick in a silk suit," and asks the reader "to ignore all the trash talk/ and to believe in the beauty/ of their own blackness." Through honest descriptions in "Whitehouse Mountain," Paulson shows the reader how to find refuge in poetry and "find shelter under these towering peaks,/ this high ridge line sun sweeps/ where today snow explodes."

Throughout The Company of Trees , the reader feels connected to the poems, a goal foremost in Paulson's mind. What makes Paulson's poetry distinctive is her attention to detail combined with a flair for translating abstract ideas into polished verse. "Red Sand Bucket," which describes the nourishing power of one golden childhood memory, is one of the best, bringing the collection to a fitting close: "Yet the bucket's red and real,/ half-buried in the shore at dusk,/ and to replay just one beach day in August,/ it's enough."

A strong sense of place and an ability to recreate a child's sense of wonder unite these two poets, whether you seek "The Company of Trees" or have an "Insatiable" curiosity.






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