River Trip Poetry Group

rivertrippoetrygroupBoth seasoned and emerging poets are invited to participate in the newly-launched River Trip Poetry Group, an ongoing experiential poetry group meeting on 2nd Tuesdays, 10 to 11:30 am at Yankie Creek Coffee House (Yankie Street at Texas Street in Silver City, NM).

This poetry group, sponsored by the River Chapter of New Mexico State Poetry Society, is open to all who enjoy a supportive and engaging environment in which to make connections, hone skills and share their literary art. The focus of these sessions is on both writing and reading. Writing exercises are offered by rotating facilitators selected within the group. All poetry forms are welcome.

Organizers of this group are Elise Stuart (the Poet Laureate of Silver City) and Stewart S. Warren (author and drifter).

The next poetry session will be on December 13th at 10am.

An Evening with the Maestro – Reflection by JJ Wilson

JJ Wilson shares his thoughts on Juan Felipe Herrera’s visit:

The 21st Poet Laureate of the Unites States came to little Silver City this week. The place will never be the same. Herrera was a hurricane of ideas, poetry, stories, music and love.

In front of a packed house, he talked (and sang) about his childhood, about his days tending farm animals, about his father’s experiences jumping trains to get from Chihuahua to Colorado, and about a Buddhist cinema that inspired a poem. He spoke about the power of community to heal wounds in troubled times, and he marveled at our little community, which is full of poets and artists and musicians.

Juan Felipe Herrera and JJ Wilson read together at Light Hall, WNMU

Photo by Stewart Hale for Silver City Daily Press and Independent

There’s no other word for it: Herrera was sensational. With a gesture of his hand he conjured honey pouring from the heart; with just a few licks on his harmonica he magicked up happy times; with a fold of a tiny piece of paper he showed how a poem becomes a bird. Hell, the dude even let me do a duet with him – I read in English, he in Spanish.

Besides being a great poet, Herrera is just a tremendously inspiring man. He’s never forgotten his humble roots and I don’t think he’ll ever tire of encouraging people to express themselves and to go forward with love and curiosity. Bravo, maestro. You filled our hearts with love and life!


Review of “Notes on the Assemblage”

Juan Felipe Herrera photoNotes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera
Review by JJ Wilson originally posted here.

Juan Felipe Herrera is a protean figure, a one-man dynamo: an actor, activist, professor, musician, author of thirty books, and now the first Latino Poet Laureate of the United States.

His personal story is extraordinary. His parents were migrant workers, constantly on the move across California. He found an alternative path when he won a scholarship to UCLA, and the harsh realities of the migrant workers’ life were replaced by books and ideas. He went on to receive a Masters degree from Stanford and then an MFA from Iowa, something of a badge of belonging for any up-and-coming poet.

But he has never forgotten where he came from, and across most of his work we see life’s hardships silhouetted against the sun-kissed landscapes of California. If his is a story of personal reinvention, then this finds echoes in his writing. Besides his eclectic poetry and film scripts, there are dazzling books for children and young adults, several of which have garnered big prizes.  Notes on the Assemblage is yet another fabulous work.

Here, as always, Herrera defies categorization. At one moment he writes about social issues – the 43 murdered Mexican students, Syria, police killings of African Americans. Then you turn the page and Herrera has become the heir of Wallace Stevens – a trickster, a master of language that dances in the mind. There are also the joyful echoes of Ginsberg and the Beats, ee cummings, and Burciaga.

Notes on the Assemblage coverThis collection consists of eight sections, each named for one of the poems therein. The first section, “Ayotzinapa,” is arguably the strongest. “Ayotzinapa” and “And if the man with the choke-hold” are powerful works of social protest. Punctuation-free, they come across as artful streams of consciousness, wails, laments too deeply felt to take a breath.  The other great protest poem in this collection, “We Are Remarkably Loud Not Masked,” is narrated by a marcher recalling the names of the murdered – Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray and others – and mixing past (the lost lives) and present (“we march touch hands lean back leap forth”).

Herrera’s social conscience underpins the book but does not overwhelm it. Poems such as “En la media medianoche”/”In the mid of midnight” are paeans to imagery (rumba and chocolate!) and language, and they defy meaning. His command of form across the whole collection includes modernist experimentation, dialogic poems flowing in Spanish and English, odes to the recently deceased, and ekphrastic poetry inspired by the art of Lazo, Albizu and others.

Notes on the Assemblage consolidates Herrera’s reputation as a fearless innovator and a great poet. Bravo, maestro. Ha hecho de nuevo!


Reading and Book Signing with Catalina Claussen

Catalina Claussen reads from Diamonds At DuskCatalina Claussen will appear at Miller Library on the WNMU campus for a reading and book signing at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 20.  Claussen is the author of Diamonds at Dusk, a young adult novel set in southwestern New Mexico, released in March by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

The book has been selected as a finalist in the 2016 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. Winners will be announced Nov. 18.

Claussen, a founding English teacher at Aldo Leopold Charter High School in Silver City, is a graduate of Reed College, Prescott College and Western New Mexico University. She wrote Diamonds at Dusk in part to fill a need–she saw a dearth of books for youth that portray rural life. Here is a synopsis of the story:

It’s hard to miss Cascade Rose Jennings. She’s the one in cowgirl boots who up until this morning wasn’t interested in boys. But, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday something inside her knocks loose.

DiamondsAtDuskHis name is Chadwick Dean Holbrook, a college prep school boy from Albuquerque and Cassie’s long-time “fair weather” friend. Every year, at summer’s end he disappears from her Grandpa Norm’s high desert ranch in southwestern New Mexico. This time, he promises to stay for Cassie’s birthday. Just when Cassie thinks she can count on him, Chad breaks his promise. He leaves behind an endearing, flirtatious treasure hunt. Cassie, filled with renewed hope, stifles a pang of jealousy when she discovers, her best friend, Ahzi Toadlena, is in on it. To make things worse, Cassie meets Maverick Britton, a charming misfit who threatens to steal her heart and the gold her Grandpa has kept quiet about all these years. Maverick has a dark secret that unwittingly draws Cassie and Ahzi into his perilous world. Chad, protective of his childhood friends, knows Maverick’s kind. He returns in time to rescue Ahzi and help Cassie win back the gold. In the end, Cassie realizes that her friendships, her family, and deep connection to the land mean more to her than any romance.

Silver City Quarterly Review Anniversary Celebration

scquarterlyreviewlogoOctober 2016 marks one year in the life of the Silver City Quarterly Review, and the Review would like to invite contributors, readers, and interested community members to share in the creativity of their community.

Silver City Quarterly Review – Gallery Reception
Friday, October 14, 2016, 3:00pm
WNMU McCray Gallery

Visual artists will display printed versions of their work featured in the Silver City Quarterly Review and exciting new pieces. Also on display will be printed versions of some of your favorite Quarterly Review poems and short stories displayed in unique and creative ways. Visual art including printed poems will be on display from Saturday October 15th to 21st.

Silver City Quarterly Review One-Year Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, October 15, 2016, 4:00-6:00pm
WNMU McCray Gallery

Authors will read poetry or excerpts from longer works. Published authors will be available for book signings and sales. The gallery works (described above) will be available for all to enjoy.

David Chorlton Poetry Reading

davidchorltonPoetry reading by Phoenix poet David Chorlton
Friday, October 14, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Yankie Creek Coffee House, Silver City

Born in Austria, David Chorlton grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. In his early 20s he went to live in Vienna and stayed for seven years before moving to Phoenix with his wife in 1978. In Arizona he has grown ever more fascinated by the desert and its wildlife. Much of his poetry has come to reflect his growing concern for the natural world. In 2008, he won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for his chapbook The Lost River, and in 2009 the Slipstream Chapbook Competition for From the Age of Miracles. Other poetry collections include A Normal Day Amazes Us (Kings Estate Press), The Porous Desert (FutureCycle Press) and Waiting for the Quetzal (March Street Press). The Devil’s Sonata (FutureCycle Press) appeared in 2012, and in 2014 the same press published David Chorlton: Selected Poems. His A Field Guide to Fire was part of the Fires of Change exhibition, a collaboration of artists and scientists addressing the role of fire in forest management in the age of climate change.

His poems have appeared in many literary and small press magazines. He is represented in Fever Dreams (an anthology of Arizona poets from U. of Arizona Press), New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press), and has a poem in BIRDS, an anthology from the British Museum. A copy of his poem, The Deep Frozen Desert, was interred with some seeds from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway.


Writing in the Desert

Once you have entered the desert

a lock behind you clicks. A new vocabulary

floods your tongue and leaves you struggling

to pronounce the words. After the first year

you learn that silence is the official language

here. The longer you stay

the shorter the book you came to write becomes

until the manuscript fits on the wings

of a moth. Each dusk, a lifetime’s work

draws closer to the flame.                                              (from The Porous Desert)

Seven Great Banned Books

Originally posted by JJ Wilson on September 23, 2016.

In celebration of Banned Books Week – Sept 25-Oct 1 – here’s some great literature that governments banned at one time or another. Rather than the usual suspects — Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita, the Harry Potter series (witchcraft!), and pretty much everything Orwell and Solzhenitzyn wrote — I’ve gone for a few of the more surprisingly banned titles.  The list covers four continents, six nationalities, and all the vices you can think of.


1. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

Pasternak couldn’t get his masterpiece published in the USSR because it critiqued Socialism. At the instigation of the legendary publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, the manuscript was smuggled to Milan, where it finally saw the light of day in 1957. The following year Pasternak won the Nobel Prize, but was forbidden by his government from accepting it. Within two years he was dead of lung cancer. In 1988, Pasternak’s family accepted the award on his behalf.


2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Carroll’s 1865 masterpiece has entranced and offended generations of readers in almost equal measure. At some point or other it’s been banned for promoting drug use (OK, the caterpillar sitting on a mushroom while puffing on a hookah pipe is fairly unambiguous); sexual content; and talking animals. It’s also one of the most quoted books of all time.


3. The Children of Gebelawi – Naguib Mahfouz

The Egyptian Nobel Laureate’s 1959 novel (sometimes known as Children of the Alley) about patriarchy, religion, and a family feud was banned all over the Arabic world. Critics said the hero, Gebelawi, was a blasphemous representation of God. The assassination attempt on Mahfouz by Islamic extremists in 1994 was a direct consequence of the book’s content, but Mahfouz still had the guts to speak out against the fatwa issued on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses.



4. An Area of Darkness – V.S. Naipaul

When Naipaul squints at the world and begins sharpening his pencil, nothing is sacred. In this 1964 travelogue about India, he calls his ancestral homeland “the world’s largest slum” and describes Indians as “a withered race of men.” India banned the book immediately.


5. A World of Strangers – Nadime Gordimer

South African novelist Gordimer claimed that “I am not a political person by nature. I don’t suppose, if I had lived elsewhere, my writing would have reflected politics much, if at all.” But in Apartheid and the terrible injustices brought about by systemic racism, she found her theme. This 1958 book was the first of three Gordimer novels to be banned in South Africa.



6. El Señor Presidente – Miguel Asturias

Technically speaking, this great novel wasn’t banned; its publication was delayed for thirteen years by the Guatemalan government before it was finally published in 1946. The book portrays a ruthless, corrupt dictator with an uncanny resemblance to Manuel Estrada Cabrera, Guatemala’s very own ruthless, corrupt dictator who ruled from 1898 to 1920.


7. The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

In the U.S., the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act of 1873 prohibited the sending or receiving of “obscene” or “filthy” works through the U.S. mail. Chaucer, to the pleasure of several generations of British schoolboys, was on occasion extremely, delightfully, disgustingly filthy. And so his tales, 500 years after they were first published, were temporarily grounded in the U.S.

Recent Review of Damnificados

In his debut novel Damnificados, JJ Amaworo Wilson has created a unique yet familiar world. No doubt reflecting Wilson’s experiences living in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Lesotho, Colombia, England, Italy, and the United States, the story is set in a fascinatingly diverse, polyglot city surrounded by an equally multi-national countryside. As an analytical, often literal-minded reader, I spent some mental energy at first trying to determine where on Earth I was: South America felt right at first, but the place names seemed to come not only from Spanish and Portuguese but also French, Arabic, Mandarin, and Eastern European languages (Czech?). After a short while I allowed myself to relax and just enjoy my new, exciting surroundings.

Although aspects of the world of Damnificados may seem foreign and exotic; the vivid, precise, and insightful description transports the reader easily. I found myself thinking, “Oh yes, I’ve been there.”

Up to this point I have had mixed reactions to fiction incorporating magical realism. Often I have read such works and found the introduction of “magical” or supernatural elements to be jarring. In some cases, I have had difficulty seeing how a supernatural element enhanced the story. Damnificados changed this for me. The realistic and modern elements blend so naturally with the unexpected, magical elements that the whole story is seamless, believable, and engrossing. The storyline shifts organically from contemporary plotline to historical account, from slightly unusual characters or odd occurrences to unnatural occurrences. When something happens that defies the natural order of things, at first the reader may not even notice. Nothing is superfluous; every magical event in Damnificados has been added to the story for a reason.

Flawed and broken, resilient and authentic human beings underlie every part of the book. I saw the strengths, weaknesses, talents, and quirks of the communities to which I belong reflected in the damnificados’ community. I particularly loved the characters’ unique ingenuity, especially characters that society would normally consider weak. One of my favorite sections of the book describes the variety of incredible skills developed by professional garbage-sorters before the Fourth Trash War, including a woman “who could fill a gunnysack of recyclable metal in ten minutes, or so the legend goes.” Character portraits and legends such as this add a strong dose of humor to Damnificados.

Damnificados intersperses heartwarming, authentic, and humorous episodes with suspense, misfortune, and tragedy. At times it seems as if there is no escape, but survivors emerge from disaster to rebuild and improve their community. Life and love persists. The story also presents less dramatic but universally recognizable anxieties and problems. I felt the characters’ pain and gained consolation from their hope.

By blending the realistic with the epic, Wilson has allowed readers to immerse themselves in a world that is simultaneously familiar and new. The results are exciting to experience.

-Lillian Galloway, Festival steering committee member and public library liaison

Festival Steering Committee Announces 2016 Prologue Weekend Events

web banner 2016 e

The Southwest Festival of the Written Word (SWFWW) presents its even-numbered year event, the 2016 Prologue Weekend, on September 29-October 1.  All sessions are open to the public free of charge and take place in Silver City, NM.  Two sessions have limited capacity and require attendees to reserve their space in advance.


On Thursday, September 29, local writers Beate Sigriddaughter, Stewart Warren, and Chris Lemme will share strategies and answer questions about self-publishing and offer insight into other means by which a writer’s work can be placed in the public’s reading spaces and on the public’s reading radar. The workshop will be held at the Silver City Library, 515 W. College Avenue at 4:00pm.  Writers of all ages are welcome.

Sigriddaughter is a published poet and fiction author  (www.sigriddaughter.com ). Warren, who recently moved to Silver City from Albuquerque, is a published author of poetry and fiction, and is the owner of the Mercury Heartlink Publishing (www.heartlink.com ) which moved with him to Silver. Chris Lemme is the editor of the on-line Silver City Quarterly Review, the literary review magazine published four times a year (Jan, Apr, July, Oct) that spotlights local authors in Silver City and southwestern New Mexico. ( www.scquarterlyreview.wordpress.com ) Contact the library at 575-538-3672 or ref@silvercitymail.com  for more information about the event.

Beate Sigriddaughter

Beate Sigriddaughter

Stewart Warren

Stewart Warren

Chris Lemme

Chris Lemme







Jim Smith

Jim Smith

In 2013, Jim Smith’s novel about Billy the Kid, Catherine’s Son, The Story of a Boy who Became an Outlaw, was named a finalist for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award as best historical fiction. On Friday, September 30, from 4:00-5:00pm, at the Miller Library on the WNMU campus, Smith will entertain and enlighten his audience on the topic of Billy the Kid’s time in Silver City.  Jim is the author of an American history textbook titled Ideas That Shape A Nation, a book that has been endorsed by teachers and scholars throughout the nation, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning historians (David Kennedy and Jack Rakove).  He is also the author of Skipper Hall: The Life and Religious Philosophy of a Methodist Minister in New Mexico. (www.whyteachhistory.com ) and has published articles and book reviews in Healthy U, The Journal of Southern History, Phi Delta Kappan, AP Central, and Historical Times.


If you are haunted by a great idea for a movie or a play, but not sure where to begin, or if you have already started one but are unsure of what your characters should do or say next, then you will want to attend Dr. Barb Ann Matson’s Scene Writing Workshop, Saturday, October 1, from 9:00am-Noon, at 808 W. 8th Street. The workshop is limited to 15; your space can be reserved by contacting blueheron@sbcglobal.net.  The heart of the workshop will address character development, consistency, complexity, motivation, conflict, actions, and dialog. Participants will watch an award-winning short screenplay (less than 10 minutes) followed by directed writing exercises. Dr. Matson is a WNMU Professor of English.


Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson

On Saturday, October 1, from 1:00-3:00pm, at 808 W. 8th Street, Silver City writer Bruce Wilson will lead a workshop entitled “The Marketing Plan”.  (www.brucewilsonwrites.com ).  Wilson’s first novel, Death in the Black Patch, is currently in production and will be published in September 2016 by Artemesia Publishing of Tijeras, NM. In this workshop, he will discuss how to develop and write a plan for publishing and marketing your book and how you can take control of your book’s future. Space is limited to 15; contact blueheron@sbcglobal.net to reserve your spot.

The 2017 Southwest Festival of the Written Word will be held September 29-October 1, 2017.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, to speak at Western New Mexico University

herrera_si-303x335Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, to speak at WNMU, Silver City

Juan Felipe Herrera will give a talk about his life and work at Light Hall, WNMU on Monday November 21st. This event is free and open to the public; however, to reserve a seat you must pick up a free ticket from the WNMU Office of Cultural Affairs in Hunter Hall. If you do not pick up a free ticket, you may not be able to get a seat at the event. There will be a cocktail meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m. on the patio, followed by the talk from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

This event is co-sponsored by the WNMU Office of Cultural Affairs, the Western Institute of Lifelong Learning, and the Southwest Festival of the Written Word. For more information, please contact JJ Amaworo Wilson: jjawilson@hotmail.com or 575-956-8758.

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