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The poetry of mushrooms

Matt Hoisch
/
KOTO
Telluride's Mushroom Festival took place August 17-21, 2022, and celebrated all things mycological

The annual Telluride Mushroom Festival looks at the medicinal, culinary, and ecological facets of fungi. But it also focuses on the artistic elements of the mushroom world, including through an annual mushroom poetry performance.

Why write and listen to poetry about mushrooms? Poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer says instead we should ask “why wouldn’t we want to listen to poems about mushrooms?”

Wahtola Trommer, a local poet in the Telluride region, is one of several writers who read work at the Telluride Mushroom Festival’s annual poetry show.

“Nobody really understands them, so there's lots of mystery there. They're pretty good for metaphors,” said Wahtola Trommer.

Daiva Chesonis also presented work at the show. She estimates that she started writing mushroom poetry about seven years ago.

“It's a huge dance. And when the mushrooms decide it's time, it's time. It's not up to us. So that's why we go out. That's why it's called mushroom hunting because you hunt and you might not get (it),” she said.

“The fruiting body of a mushroom, which is what we see when we're talking about mushroom hunting, is related to a massive underground microscopic, often mycelial network that we don’t see” said Joanna Spindler, another poet who presented at the festival. “And it’s very fleeting, it comes up for a very brief amount of time.”

Much of the festival focuses on the culinary, medicinal, and ecological elements of mushrooms. However, Art Goodtimes, the poet in residence of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, as well as the poetry editor of FUNGI Magazine, stresses the importance of art to, in his words, temper the sciences.

He says the arts humanize us and make us more understanding of the surrounding world.

“That's the wonder of the arts. They really make us ask questions that we don't do sometimes when we're simply doing fact gathering or observation or recording,” he said.

Original music featured in this story by Travis Fischer.

This story from KOTO was shared with Aspen Public Radio via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, including Aspen Public Radio.