Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #14

Adams on Goodtimes

A Book Review
by Michael Adams

As If the World Really Mattered
Poems by Art Goodtimes
La Alameda Press
Albuquerque, NM 2006
ISBN 978-1-888809-49-7

Think of a bear of a man, white hair and long white beard, big-bellied laugh booming out from amongst the trunks of old-growth spruce and fir trees somewhere deep in the San Juan Mountains, off trail and possibly lost.  Think of a voice like a bass drum or surf booming in off the Pacific.  That’s Art Goodtimes, author of As If the World Really Mattered (collected poems, La Alameda Press).

Michael AdamsGoodtimes lives in Norwood, Colorado, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Colorado Plateau.  Not only a poet, he is a San Miguel County Commissioner. The highest elected Green politician in

Colorado, he represents not hippy Telluride, but the very conservative, Republican eastern end of the county and has done so successfully for three terms.  He also served for 25 years as the poet-in-residence for the Telluride Mushroom Festival and can be seen almost any day driving San Miguel Canyon in his ancient Datsun pickup truck painted red with white polka dots to represent an Amanita muscaria mushroom.  In short, Goodtimes is a truly fascinating fellow and a genuine local icon.   As Dolores LaChapelle (a wise and wonderful woman, another icon in the San Juan region who passed away recently) writes in her introduction, “Art Goodtimes is truly a bard.  He has the unique ability to take all of our individual stories –each human story within the ongoing story of our place itself – and combine them into a vast epic.”

Open this book and get ready for a ride, from Kansas, “the centerfold prime rib wheat heart of America” all the way to the west coast, where “huge waves crash ashore./ I mean break bones, bruisers,/ punch-drunk rollers cooking all the way from China.”  You can lose yourself in the be-bop, doo-wop, roller-coaster play of Goodtimes’ language, where you will find “Coyote’s shadow looking for mischief./ Loon Woman diving.”

Goodtimes weaves the human and the natural together, so that we realize there is no separating the two.  The world is dynamic, always moving, always our home.  “What better place to call home/ than this high desert cloud mesa/  high-five rippling of the continental plates/ before they slap down/ fanning towards the Coast?”

This is poetry to be read out loud, imagining thunder rolling around in a high mountain cirque.

I’ve know Art for at least twenty years, going back to before our beards were gray, in our old Earth First! days.  His steps may be slower, but he hasn’t lost any of the fizz and fire.  Not only is Goodtimes’ poetry enticing. Even the introduction, author’s preface, and extensive notes make fascinating reading.  You can learn about Pomo Indian basket weaving, and why a county commissioner weaves during public meetings, learn where wild asparagus grows on Wright’s Mesa, and why Thomas a Kempis was downgraded from “saint” to merely “blessed” by the Catholic Church. 

This is poetry to be read out loud, imagining thunder rolling around in a high mountain cirque.  Goodtimes is an undeniable feature of the landscape, like Lone Cone Peak, which rises over his home.  He’s one of the godfathers of bardic, bioregional poetry.  Maybe one day they’ll  name the bridge over the San Miguel River at the base of Norwood Hill after him.  The Art Goodtimes Neopagan Zenmother Buddhada Pandemonium Center of It All Bridge