Silver City and Grant County doubles up on Poet Laureate

The Selection Committee is delighted to announce that the position of third Poet Laureate of Silver City and Grant County will be shared by Beate Sigriddaughter and Jack Crocker.

Beate Sigriddaughter reads at an event in February 2015.

Beate Sigriddaughter
Photo courtesy Silver City Public Library

This honorary position is awarded to a person who has established a presence in the world of poetry, has demonstrated a commitment to the literary art form, and who embraces the opportunity to engage in civil discourse.

Following the tenure of Elise Stuart as second Poet Laureate, the committee received several applications for the role, of which these two were outstanding. After interviewing both candidates, the committee decided unanimously to offer them the position in tandem. This unprecedented move will allow Crocker and Sigriddaughter to share the load of spreading poetry to the community.

Beate Sigriddaughter, originally from Germany, has published dozens of poems and short stories as well as novels, the most recent of which is Audrey: A Book of Love. Sigriddaughter has a website – Writing In A Woman’s Voice – which publishes novice and experienced women writers. She believes “poetry really does matter. Almost everybody I know seems to remember some poetry that has at some point provided meaningful comfort.”

Jack Crocker

Jack Crocker, courtesy photo

Jack Crocker’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals, and his latest collection, The Last Resort, was published in 2009 by the Texas Review Press. Crocker is also a musician. He once signed a recording and songwriting contract with Fretone Records in Memphis, but decided instead to become an English professor. Currently, he is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Western New Mexico University.

The poets will serve a two-year term, beginning May 1st 2017, with an option for a third year if mutually agreed. The Poet Laureate program is run by the Southwest Festival of the Written Word.

Lecture with Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca (Tochtli), Ph.D.

Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca portrait

Dr. Felipe de Ortego y GascaDr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca will give a lecture titled “The Stamp of One Defect: The Mystery of Memory in Shakespeare’s Hamlet” on Thursday, May 4, 2017, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM. This free event will occur at Western New Mexico University Light Hall Theater. There will be a meet and greet directly after the Lecture.

Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca is Scholar in Residence (Cultural Studies, critical Theory, Public Policy) at Western New Mexico University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Cultural Studies, Texas State University System – Sul Ross.

For more than 400 years Hamlet has been one of the theater’s most successful plays. More has probably been written about Hamlet, the Prince, than about any other figure in literature, for the play is ostensibly enshrouded in a mystery of words about politics, theology, ideology, and morality in Denmark via 17th century Elizabethan England.

It is true that we cannot hope to know what Shakespeare knew or thought. But the moral truth that seems to emerge from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1599-1602) is that man is oftentimes no more than “a pipe for Fortune’s finger to sound what stop she please.” Hamlet is a tormented man in conflict with Fate, Society, and himself, tortured by a nagging malady, “Some vicious mole of nature,” that breaks down the “pales and fortes of his reason.”

Elizabethan men of learning and intellectual curiosity no doubt pondered the phenomena of mental disorders. Cardan’s Comforte, a book of consolation traditionally associated with Hamlet, points out that a man is nothing but his mind: if the mind is discontented, the man is disquieted though the rest of him be well. Hamlet is such a man, disquieted and melancholic, suffering from the stamp of one defect: in his case, the impediment of lost memory—today identified as Alzheimer’s.

The lecture, drawn from Dr. Ortego’s work The Stamp of One Defect: A Study of Hamlet (Texas Western, 1966)—considered by Shakespearean Professor Haldeen Braddy as the most provocative work in a century of Hamlet studies—unravels that impediment of memory from clues explicit in the text of Hamlet.

This event is sponsored by the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, Western Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL), WNMU College of Arts and Sciences, and Office of Cultural Affairs. For more information about this event, call the Office of Cultural Affairs at 575-538-6469.

Select Bibliography on Shakespeare by Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, PhD (English)
British Renaissance Literature/Mexican American Literature

“Shakespeare and the Doctrine of Monarchy in King John,” College Language Association Journal 13, No. 4, 392-401, June 4, 1970.

  • This work is featured in the Folger Library’s King John Study Pack, 2015
  • Cited in “Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John” by Helen Hargest, in Finding Shakespeare: Curating stories from Shakespeare’s Work, Life, and Times, June 16, 2015.
  • Cited in, King John Essay—King John (Vol. 88):

“The Winter’s Tale as Pastoral Tragicomic Romance,” Rendezvous: Journal of Liberal Arts, Spring 1970.

“Hamlet: The Stamp of One Defect,” Shakespeare in the Southwest: Some New Directions, Texas Western Press, 1969.

Remembering Richard Mahler

Richard MahlerThe Southwest Festival of the Written Word has lost a great and much-loved friend. Richard Mahler, or Rico as he liked to be called, was an Everyman: writer, editor, publisher, radio host, media consultant, photographer, teacher, naturalist, and literary pioneer. If you wanted something done, and done well, in the world of words, Rico was the man.

He had a particular affinity for the outdoors. He was a frequent surveyor of New Mexico flora and fauna, and was named Volunteer of the Year for 2014 by the Wildlife Land Trust of the Humane Society of the United States.

In fact, the best-known of his thirteen books is probably The Jaguar’s Shadow, an outdoor odyssey. This epic quest to encounter a jaguar in the flesh is quintessential Mahler: a wild adventure across endless deserts, steamy rainforests, malarial swamps, and border badlands, leavened with Mahler’s trademark dry wit and his philosopher’s gaze at a world gone mad.

Rico was unassuming and laconic, and one had to dig deep to understand what a driven, dedicated writer he was. His work appeared in some very fine publications: Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Outside Magazine, Southwest Art, Utne, Alternative Medicine, and New Mexico Magazine, to name but a few.

Recently he founded a publishing press called Relham (read it backwards) for original new work. In this venture he served both as publisher and mentor to numerous authors. He also co-hosted Use Your Words: Writers Speak, a literary radio show broadcasting out of Silver City, his adopted home. His sonorous, measured tones gave the show gravitas without pomposity.

Richard will be much missed by the writing community as well as the community at large. Our condolences to Pamela, his fiancée.

JJ Amaworo Wilson

Celebrate Our Poet Laureate’s New Book

Cover of book Another Door CallsElise Stuart, the Poet Laureate of Silver City, will give a special reading on Tuesday, April 18, 4:30-5:30pm at the Silver City Public Library to commemorate National Poetry Month and to celebrate the release of her first book of poetry, Another Door Calls. In the new poetry collection, the reader is invited to step into the stark beauty of the desert as Stuart explores the wilderness. As Stuart describes, “Rivers and mountains become my teachers on this journey as I come to know the terrain more intimately. The land and water become mirrors revealing themselves to me, revealing my own inner landscape in startling silence and the language of poetry.” Another Door Calls is published by Mercury HeartLink and illustrated with photographs taken by Glenn Henderson. More information can be found on Elise Stuart’s website,

The Poet Laureate program is organized by the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, and nominations are currently being accepted for the regions’ third Poet Laureate. The program strives to promote a meaningful poetic presence as part of the diverse cultural fabric of our town and region. The primary duty of the Poet Laureate is to promote poetry in the community. During her term, Elise has given poetry workshops in school classrooms throughout Grant County.

Poet Laureate Releases New Book

For more information about library events, see or contact 575-538-3672 or The Silver City Public Library is located at 515 W. College Avenue, on the corner of College and Cooper street in Silver City.

Celebrate Libraries This April

heart and library symbol--a silhouette of a person reading a book--on a blue background

Institutions dedicated to literacy, life-long learning, and the joy of reading hold a special place in the hearts of avid readers and writers. Some special opportunities to show your appreciation for libraries will occur in the next two weeks.

Celebrate our local public library at Love Your Library Day on Saturday, April 1, 10:00am-1:00pm at the Silver City Public Library, 515 W. College Avenue on the corner of College and Cooper Street in Silver City. Literacy Link-Leamos–the library’s close partner organization which offers free tutoring and book giveaways–organizes this special celebration every year. This year for the first time Cooper Street will be closed between College and 8th Street, and there will be live music and outdoor games. Come enjoy cookies and snacks, free books, stories and activities for kids, and door prizes (including a $50 grand prize donated by Western Bank)! There will be no fee for replacement library cards on this day. Contact Literacy Link Leamos at or 388-0892 for more information.

April 9-15 is National Library Week! The American Library Association leads this annual initiative to raise awareness of how libraries transform communities, and how libraries are transforming themselves to serve communities every day. The 2017 State of America’s Libraries report will be released on Monday, April 10. Tuesday, April 11 is National Library Workers Day, and April 12 will be National Bookmobile Day. Learn more about how you can show your support in person or on social media at the celebration page Download some of their lovely graphics for your online profile pics or social media feeds! The Silver City Public Library will be also be sharing some online and in-person ways to celebrate your library; more information coming soon at and

This is also an opportune time to recognize challenges facing our libraries nationwide. Right now, in particular, the proposed federal budget completely eliminates Library Services and Technology Act funding administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. In New Mexico, this funding supports several services run by the State Library including rural bookmobiles and summer reading program materials that make it much easier for libraries statewide to offer summer programs. The LSTA/IMLS funding also allows the State Library to subscribe to online test preparation, online tutoring, research articles, reference e-books, and other media that anyone in New Mexico can access for free at These resources are not normally freely available online. Finally, the federal funding has allowed the State Library to offer traveling educational programs and mini-grants to libraries for youth science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities (Makerstate Initiative). You can learn more about how LSTA/IMLS funding affects New Mexico libraries here. You can also search for grants made to New Mexico libraries here. Currently, library supporters are focusing on contacting members of the House to ask them to sign a “Dear Appropriator” letter in support of the Library Services and Technology Act. Learn more here.

Readers and writers like us love the way that libraries bring us together and inspire us. Join us in celebrating libraries this month, and all year round!

Report on the 2017 Tucson Festival of Books

Thanks to JJ Wilson for sharing his thoughts on this year’s Tucson Festival of Books!


Another year, another blockbuster. Once again I missed out on a couple of big names – Colson Whitehead and Michael McGarrity – but there was plenty of consolation in seeing some lesser-known, bright young (and not-so-young) things.

Adrienne Celt

Adrienne Celt

I was really looking forward to seeing Adrienne Celt as she’ll be appearing later this year at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word. Adrienne, a novelist/cartoonist, starred on an excellent panel with Reed Karaim and Karen Brennan. She was funny and humble and talked lots of good sense.

Karaim is a journalist as well as a novelist, and he had interesting things to say about how his journalistic writing habits affect his fiction. Journalists “don’t have much time for writer’s block,” he says, and they’ve learned to take themselves out of the story.

Karen Brennan was just hilarious – she reminded me of an old-time actress who’s seen it all and condensed it into a thousand one-liners.

Tim Z. Hernandez

Tim Z. Hernandez

I also had the pleasure of attending a session with Tim Z. Hernandez, author of All They Will Call You, a novel I cannot wait to read. Tim, along with Dan Chacón, interviewed me on Words on a Wire (here), and his new book is getting superb reviews. He’s one of those artist/performer/writers who grab your attention through humor, charm, and integrity.

Tim appeared alongside another writer/artist, Maceo Montoya, who spoke so eloquently about Chicanismo. Montoya mentioned that his Chicano students have been through High School and barely know a thing about their heritage.

With a combination of humor and gravity, these old friends riffed away, and it was a joy.

Talking of riffers, Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the United States, joined Alberto Rios on stage for a beautiful hour of poetry, philosophy and laughter. Rios told great stories about the border at Nogales: how it was first erected from landing strips and how the Mexicans on the other side simply pushed them down so the strips would form a bridge over a creek. The message was … life goes on.

One of these two also quoted Ana Castillo’s admonition to writers: “Write what is tearing at our hearts,” a line I won’t forget.

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale

The highlight for me was a kids’ session. That sometimes happens when you have an 8-year-old in tow. Nathan Hale is a cartoonist and storyteller with a difference. His difference is that he does both simultaneously, using software that allows him to project his drawings, live, to the audience as he’s telling the story. He does all the voices – in this case, Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea, a French explorer called Charbonneau, and even a talking dog. It was history as we didn’t know it, and it was an amusing and inspiring hour.

Thanks, as always, to the organizers and sponsors. You do a remarkable job.

-JJ Wilson

Search Begins for Silver City Area’s Third Poet Laureate

Nominations are now being sought for the Silver City area’s third Poet Laureate, following Bonnie Buckley Maldonado’s tenure as the first and Elise Stuart’s as the second.

This honorary position is awarded to a person who has established a presence in the world of poetry, has demonstrated a commitment to the literary art form, and who embraces the opportunity to engage in civil discourse.

Candidates for the post may be either self-nominated or nominated by another person, and must be over the age of 21. Candidates must be residents of Grant County and must have exhibited demonstrable ties to the community. The person selected for the post will serve a two-year term based on the calendar year, with the option – granted in consultation with the Selection Committee – of extending the term to three years.

The main duty of the Poet Laureate is to promote poetry in the community. An additional duty may be to present an original commemorative poem at one or two public events as determined by the Southwest Festival of the Written Word and/or the Silver City Town Council.

To apply, please send a 1-2 page statement describing your qualifications, including publications and teaching experience; an outline of your plans for the role and how you will make a difference in the community; and 3-5 of your poems (which may be in English and/or Spanish). The process may also involve a short interview with the Selection Committee. All applications must be sent by April 17, 2017 to JJ Amaworo Wilson at or 4229 N. Swan St, Silver City, NM 88061. Please contact JJ if you would like more information.

Elise Stuart

Elise Stuart, second Poet Laureate

Bonnie Buckley Maldonado

Bonnie Buckley Maldonado

Short Story Contest for the SC Quarterly Review

The Silver City Quarterly Review, a literary showcase of local authors, is holding a short story writing contest for its spring issue 2017. Submissions must be fiction, can be any topic and must be limited to 1500 words. There is a $10 fee per entry. Each author can submit more than one entry. The deadline is 9pm March 15th, 2017. An editorial panel will select the first and second prize winners. First prize will win 75% of the collected purse and be featured in the spring issue of the Quarterly Review (published April 1st, 2017). Second prize will win 25% and also be published in the spring issue. The Review asks that entrants email all submissions to before the deadline. Instructions for payment of the entry fee will be sent when submissions are received. For more information, see the contest post on or email with any questions.

Aldo Leopold Writing Contest for Grades 6-12

Aldo Leopold examining tamarack, presumably at his Sauk County, Wisconsin retreatNew Mexico students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to enter the Aldo Leopold Writing Contest to celebrate Leopold’s land ethic and win a cash prize. The deadline is 11:59pm on Thursday, February 7, and the awards ceremony will be at the first annual Leopold Lecture on Sunday, April 23 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. As stated on the program website, the goal of the contest is “to engage the next generation of citizen leaders in an urgent conversation about how to address the changing realities brought about by climate disruption, biodiversity loss, growing freshwater demands, and other pressing global conservation issues.” A downloadable entry form and additional information about other related initiatives can be found at

Borrow e-books for Free

Voracious readers, take note: you don’t have to buy everything you download for your e-reader. Instead, you can borrow e-books from your public library! Most public libraries in the United States now offer e-books in addition to physical items. The Silver City Public Library collaborates with many other small libraries in New Mexico to put together a large collection of e-books and downloadable audiobooks for our community members to borrow. The collaborative collection is called New Mexico Library To-Go.

To access this service, you will need an up-to-date library card. If you have not used your Silver City Public Library card for a couple years, you will probably need to stop by the library to update your account. You will use your library card number and account information to log in (ask a library staff member for details). Once your card is ready, the next step is to visit on a personal computer or download the OverDrive library e-books app–a free app available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. The app will help your device to manage the items you borrow. If you belong to more than one library that lends e-books, you can add all your libraries to the same OverDrive app to borrow items. E-books and downloadable audiobooks from New Mexico Library To-Go can be checked out for two weeks at a time. When an item expires, your device will inform you the next time you open New Mexico Library To-Go. The expired item will be erased automatically.

silver city public library logoIf you need any assistance or have any questions about borrowing e-books and downloadable audiobooks, contact Silver City Public Library staff at 575-538-3672 or

As time goes on, your local library is becoming so much more than the books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers, and other physical items available in our building. Communities can now benefit 24/7 from their libraries’ online services, too!

-Lillian Galloway, Festival public library liaison

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