How do you gracefully handle a pandemic that’s almost (but maybe not quite) over with us?
By cultivating kindness – and finding pleasure wherever you can – and being resilient.
I like to think I did all those things on Friday morning, but the person who really did the past two years is poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, who was briefly available to chat about her journey with a group of students at Bananas Fun Park.
The past two years haven’t been much fun, and my situation pretty much sums it up: I was taking notes for our interview while waiting for a drive-thru COVID test (my notebook: the blank pages on the back of an owner of Nissan Maxima Manual).
“Use what you have, right?” I pointed out to Trommer. “Start where you are.”
She burst out laughing.
Trommer’s writing and the sold-out poetry reading classes she offered online have been the equivalent of verbal buoyancy devices for this community for this community: gifts of epiphany, joy and elucidation in a dark time.
On Monday, Trommer will present her work in person at the Sherbino Theater, when she joins poet James Crews to read his new anthology, “The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy.”
“I’m so excited about this,” Trommer said.
She first got to know Crews – an award-winning poet whose works have appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Plowshares – after he sent her a note saying he admired her work.
“I said, ‘Really? I like yours! ‘” Trommer recalled. “Our friendship was forged online.”
His poem, “Hope,” was the first in Crews’ “How to Love the World” anthology, published last year, which includes works by notable scribes Joy Harbo (American Poet Laureate), Naomi Shahib Nye and Amanda Gorman.
“This flood of gratitude is rare to encounter all at once in one place, and the effect is almost medicinal: poetry as an antidote,” Benjamin Aleshire wrote of the anthology.
“We have a sweet, easy connection,” Trommer said of his camaraderie with Crews. As soon as he became sure to do so, “he called me and said, ‘I’m coming out to see you’ from his home in Vermont.
“It’s absolutely exciting” to be able to read excerpts of their works together on Monday evening, she added. “How do we cultivate hope, connection and kindness? These poems create beautiful conversations.
Trommer’s is the first of two local literary lions that Sherbino will host next week. On Wednesday, writer Craig Childs – whose works have appeared in The Atlantic and The New York Times, and whose books include “The Secret Knowledge of Water” and “Atlas of a Lost World” – will read an excerpt from his latest publication, “Tracing Time: Seasons of Rock Art on the Colorado Plateau. The Sherbino is partnering with Cimarron Coffee & Books to present this event which begins at 7:30 p.m.
“Craig and Rosemerry are both beloved literary artists in this region, and to see them both showcasing new work” in the space of less than a week “is amazing,” said Tricia Oakland, director of Sherbino programming. “We are so excited to bring literary events back to the Sherb. Poetry was actually one of the cornerstones of our programming when we started. It’s a joy to have a resurgence of fresh literary works to offer as we head into summer.
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and James Crews’ reading of “The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy” is Monday at the Sherbino Theater from 7-8:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Craig Childs’ presentation, “Tracing Time: Seasons of Rock Art on the Colorado Set,” is from 7:30-9 p.m. Learn more and buy tickets at sherbino.org.