2017 Festival Presenters
We are pleased to announce the presenters for the 2017 Southwest Festival of the Written Word. Please join us–it’s going to be a literary adventure! Check out the Festival Schedule. To jump to a particular presenter, click on their link below.
Jesús J. Barquet
Stella Pope Duarte
Tim Z. Hernandez
Paul Andrew Hutton
Las Cruces Theater Group
Jessica Helen Lopez
Sharman Apt Russell
Virus Theater of Silver City
Charlie Alfero, arrived in Silver City 46 years ago to escape life in NY. He listened to Motown, Jazz, and Italian pop music – Canzone Napolitana on the family restaurant jukebox or coming from the shower. Political folk / rock, San Francisco style rock, psychedelic music, made up a good chunk of listening later. All influence his songs today. He shied away from writing for most of his adult life fearing the technical focus at work would make the style formal and calculated. Practicing stream of consciousness and free association have helped. The writing spirit comes and goes, a short resume, sacrificed by an intense mindfulness of social injustice and daily living.
Jesús J. Barquet (Havana, 1953) arrived in the US in 1980, via the Mariel Boatlift. Professor Emeritus of NMSU. Founder and Editor Chief of La Mirada publishing house since 2014. Winner of the “Letras de Oro Prize” for his Consagración de La Habana (1991); and the “Lourdes Casal Prize” for his Escrituras poéticas de una nación (1998). 2nd Prize Winner of “Chicano-Latino Poetry” for his Un no rompido sueño (1994). Among his books of poetry are Sin decir el mar, Sagradas herejías, JJ/CC, Sin fecha de extinción, Los viajes venturosos /Venturous Journeys, and the compilation Cuerpos del delirio.
Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novel Scrapper and the story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall. His previous novel, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two collections of fiction and a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University, where he serves as the Interim Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Adrienne Celt is the author of The Daughters, a novel, which won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award, and a book of comics, Apocalypse How? An Existential Bestiary. Her work has appeared in the 2016 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Ecotone, Esquire, The Kenyon Review, Epoch, Prairie Schooner, and many other places, and she publishes a webcomic (most) every Wednesday at loveamongthelampreys.com. Her second novel will be published by Bloomsbury in 2018.
Andrea Cote-Botero is the author of the poetry collections: Chinatown a toda hora (2017), Desierto Rumor (2016), La ruina que nombro (2015), Port in Ashes (2003), Fragile Things and Chinatown 24 hours (Object Book). She has also published books of prose: A Nude Photographer: A Biography of Tina Modotti and Blanca Varela or Writing From Solitude. She has obtained the following recognitions: The National Prize of Poetry from the Universidad Externado of Colombia (2003), the Puentes de Struga International Poetry Prize (2005) and the Cittá de Castrovillari Prize (2010) to the italian edition of Port in Ashes. Her poems have been translated into English, French, German, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Macedonian, Arabic, Polish, Greek and Chinese. Her first poetry book Puerto Calcinado, was published in French by the prestigious quebecois press Ecrist de Forge. She is Assistant Professor of poetry in the Bilingual M.F.A in Creative Writing at the University of Texas of El Paso.
Jack Crocker lives in Silver City, NM. He is a published poet and songwriter. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals, and his latest collection, The Last Resort, was published in 2009 by the Texas Review Press. Having signed a recording and songwriting contract with Fretone Records in Memphis he eventually came to the conclusion that he would be a good English professor. Currently, he is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Western New Mexico University. He was appointed Poet Laureate of Silver City and Grant County in 2017.
Andrew Dahl-Bredine is a singer-songwriter and musician from Silver City, New Mexico. He makes his living working with kids through music and nature in a life closely intertwined with the wild natural world. His musical style has been influenced by his travels and experiences in various parts of the world including Brazil, Africa, Latin America, and India, and his current journey as a young American family man living a simple life close to the natural elements.
Algernon D’Ammassa has been the author of the Deming Headlight’s “Desert Sage” opinion column since 2013. He has been a reporter for the Headlight since April, and is an occasional contributor to the Las Cruces Sun News. Killing Buddha, a play he wrote about criminal and social justice and which he has performed around the country with Las Cruces musician Randy Granger, has taken prizes at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival and the San Diego International Fringe Festival.
D’Ammassa’s blog can be found here.
Stella Pope Duarte is described as a “magical weaver with a sure hand and a pure heart,” and praised as an author who “will enlarge humanity.” Raul H. Yzaguirre: Seated at the Table of Power, is her most current work. Duarte has won honors and awards nationwide, including a 2009 American Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, the Southwest Book of the Year Award, and a Book Sense 76 Selection. She is a descendant of Irish and Mexican American parents, and was born and raised in the Sonorita Barrio in South Phoenix. Inspired to write by a prophetic dream of her father, she believes that writing, like love, begins within, or it doesn’t start at all.
M. John Fayhee is the author of 12 books and has twice been a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards.
He edited the Mountain Gazette for 13 years, was a contributing editor at Backpacker Magazine for 10 years. He worked in the newspaper business for 15 years.
His work has appeared in “beaucoup” national publications, including High Country News, Aspen Sojourner Magazine, Islands, Adventure Travel, The Walking Magazine, Family Camping, Summit, Canoe & Kayak, Outside, Sierra, Sports Illustrated, USA Today & Men’s Fitness.
His books include The Colorado Mountain Companion: A potpourri of useful miscellany from the highest parts of the highest state (West Winds Press, The Pruett Series: 2012), Smoke Signals: Wayward Journeys through the Old Heart of the New West (Raven’s Eye Press: 2012), Bottoms Up: M. John Fayhee’s Greatest Hits from the Mountain Gazette (Round Mountain Publishing: 2010) and Along the Colorado Trail (Westcliffe: 1992),–the first of three long-backpacking-trip, trail-related coffee-table/nature books he did with photographer John Fielder.
Stephen Fox is a Boston boy who moved west in 2008. He had studied history at Williams College and at Brown University, where he received a PhD in 1971. A freelance historian, he has published seven books on various aspects of American social history. For the biography panel at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, he’ll discuss three of his books that are especially biographical: The Guardian of Boston (1970), John Muir and His Legacy (1981), and Wolf of the Deep (2007). After nine years in Silver City, he still doesn’t know what to say when asked Red or Green.
Dr. Lee Francis is an Indigenerd and one of the foremost scholars on Native and Indigenous pop culture in the United States. He is the CEO and Founder of Native Realities, the only Indigenous-centric pop culture media and publishing company in North America. He is an award winning poet and performer and has bene published in numerous books, journals, and magazines. His family is from the Pueblo of Laguna, where he continues to help his community through various projects and engagements.
Dick Gerdes has been translating Latin American literature, mainly fiction, ever since his first publication in 1992. He has given talks on the art of translation in the United States and Mexico. These activities have given him the opportunity to develop a repertoire of experiences in dealing with cross-cultural issues in translation. Beyond literature, he has published relevant material of a cultural nature, such as a complete catalogue of academic programs sponsored by the Autonomous University of Mexico, a book on the miracles of the Virgin Mary, and he is about to begin the translation of a book on entomophagy, which deals with the culinary art of eating insects for their nutritional value.
John M. Gist is Red Savina Review’s founder, editor-in-chief and publisher.
He has nonfiction and fiction appearing or forthcoming in publications such as Academic Questions, Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing, EDGE Literary Journal, Gravel, Heavy Feather Review, Johns Hopkins’ The Doctor T.J. Eckelburg Review, Left Curve, Pithead Chapel, Prick of the Spindle, Sand Hill Review, South Loop Review, Spilt Infinitive, Spittoon, Superstition Review, The Agonist, The Fiddleback.
Gist is the author of three novels and co-author of the philosophical nonfiction work Angst and Evolution. His novel Lizard Dreaming of Birds (2004) was short listed for Otterbein University’s Common Book Program (2005). Gist was the runner-up in South Loop Review’s national essay contest judged by New York Times best selling author David Shields (2014). He was named finalist in the Tucson Book Festival Literary Awards competition for his creative nonfiction piece “Hawk and Diver” (2015).
He earned an M.F.A from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Gist has over a decade of teaching experience at the university level.
Current City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate, Manuel González, is a performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam. Manuel has represented Albuquerque on a national level as a member of the Albuquerque poetry slam team 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007. He has also appeared on the PBS show, Colores: My word is my power. Manuel was one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets. Manuel also has a collection of his poetry published by Swimming with Elephants Press entitled But my friends call me Burque…. Manuel teaches workshops on self-expression and poetry in schools, at risk youth facilities, youth detention centers and most recently at the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. Manuel is from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ron Hamm began writing biography with obituaries (the genre in brief) as a copy boy on his Indiana home town newspaper. Since he believes one learns to write biography by reading it his bookshelves are packed with biographies, among them favorites Doris Kearns Godwin and David McCullough. Following the Marine Corps, Hamm’s United Press/Associated Press career allowed him to write profiles of major news figures. That segued into public relations followed by teaching and finally writing biographies on New Mexicans. Hamm’s latest work on Ross Calvin was a Finalist for the 2016 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.
Tim Z. Hernandez is a writer and performance artist. He is the recipient of an American Book Award for poetry, the Colorado Book Award for poetry, and the International Latino Book Award for historical fiction. His books and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio. Named one of sixteen New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America, he was a finalist for the inaugural Split This Rock Freedom Plow Award for his work on locating the victims of the 1948 plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon, the incident made famous by Woody Guthrie’s song of the same name. The result of this work is the basis for his newly released book, All They Will Call You (Univesrity of Arizona Press). Hernandez holds a B.A. from Naropa University and an M.F.A. from Bennington College. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing.
Paul Andrew Hutton is an American cultural historian, an award-winning author, a documentary film writer, and a television personality. He holds the rank of Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico, and has also served as director of the Western History Association, and is a past president of Western Writers of America. His latest book, The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History was published by Crown, a division of Penguin Random House, in May 2016 with the paperback released by Broadway Books (a Crown imprint) last May. The book received the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best nonfiction. Hutton is also the author or editor of Phil Sheridan and His Army, The Custer Reader, Soldiers West, Roundup and Western Heritage.
Julie Iromuanya is the author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction. She earned her B.A. at the University of Central Florida and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Presidential Fellow and award-winning teacher. She is an assistant professor in the creative writing MFA program at the University of Arizona.
Megan Kimble is the editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local food magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands, and the author of Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food (William Morrow 2015). Megan has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Orion Magazine, and High Country News. Her articles and essays have been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2015 (Da Capo Press), Coming of Age at the End of Nature (Trinity University Press 2016), and How We Speak to One Another (Coffee House Press 2017). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing nonfiction from the University of Arizona, and teaches as an adjunct lecturer in the school of journalism.
Jane Lindskold is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling, internationally published author of twenty-five novels, including include the six volume Firekeeper Saga, the three volume “Breaking the Wall” series, and, most recently, Artemis Awakening and Artemis Invaded. Lindskold has also written something like seventy short stories, nineteen of which are included in her collection Curiosities. Another recent project is a non-fiction book on writing called, appropriately, Wanderings on Writing.
Jessica Helen Lopez was the former City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate and the Poet-In-Residence for the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History from 2014 – 2016. She has also been a featured writer for 30 Poets in their 30’s by MUZZLE and named one of the “10 Up and Coming Lantinx Poets You Need to Know” by international digital publisher and agency, Remezcla. Lopez holds the title of 2012 and 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam ABQ Champion. She is a member of the Macondo Foundation. Founded by Sandra Cisneros, it is an association of socially engaged writers united to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community. Her first collection of poetry, Always Messing with Them Boys (West End Press, 2011), made the Southwest Book of the Year reading list and was also awarded the Zia Book Award presented by NM Women Press. Her second collection of radical feminist poetry, Cunt. Bomb, is published by Swimming with Elephants Publication (2014). Her third collection, The Language of Bleeding: Poems for the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua (SWEP) is a limited release in honor of her ambassadorial visit to Granada, Nicaragua. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Lopez is a Ted Talk speaker alumni and a featured poet on PBS Colores! An Adjunct Instructor for UNM Chican@ Studies Department and Institute of American Indian Arts, she is also a book reviewer for World Literature Today Magazine.
Mark Medoff received the Tony and Olivier Awards for CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD and was nominated for an Academy Award and a Writers Guild of America Best Adapted Screenplay Award for the film script of CHILDREN. He received an OBIE Award for WHEN YOU COMIN BACK, RED RYDER? Mark is a Distinguished Achievement Professor at New Mexico State University where he has been on faculty and an artist in residence since 1966. His most recent play, MARILEE AND BABY LAMB: THE ASSASSINATION OF AN AMERICAN GODDESS, is scheduled to open on Broadway in the 2017-18 season. He will direct. In the coming year, Mark will direct DECADES OF DIVAS, which he co-wrote with Oscar winning songwriter Franke Previte, and his own TIME AND CHANCE at the Axelrod Theater in Deal, NJ. CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD will be revived this summer at the Berkshire Theatre Festival and will move to Broadway in early 2017. Mark and his family have started The Hope E. Harrison Foundation to raise awareness and do research to end the chromosomal anomaly, Trisomy 18, which afflicts Mark’s two-year old granddaughter, Hope. A book, HOPE FULL: A RECKONING WITH THE UNIVERSE, will be forthcoming, proceeds to go to the foundation. A documentary, MODERN DAY MIRACLES: THE CURIOUS ART OF NUERO-ACUPUNCTURE, about the work of Drs. Jason and Linda Hao, has so far accompanied the Drs. Hao to their public speaking engagements in the USA, Canada, and China. The movie THE HEART OUTRIGHT, based on Mark’s 1992 play, directed by Mark’s son in law, Ross Marks, is out to film festivals and has just made a distribution arrangement. Mark and his wife of forty-four years, Stephanie, have three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Growing up around the world, Roger Metcalfe developed an appreciation of languages, communication and cultural transfer. After graduating in Slavic languages and a variety of travel and jobs, he worked in trade journalism and the ESL book trade. This led to a stint in the imminently collapsing Yugoslavia, where he switched to full time translation and language revising for government agencies and local organizations. Originally British but lately resident in New Mexico, his work is now principally web-based translation of a wide range of subjects and formats, including film subtitles.
Kansas native Kate Nelson moved west in 1989 and planted roots in Placitas, New Mexico. An award-winning reporter and columnist, she worked at the Kansas City Star and Albuquerque Tribune before leading PR and marketing at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors. Last year, she became managing editor at New Mexico Magazine, for which she has already won a silver award as writer of the year from the International Regional Magazines Association. An active freelancer, she also wrote the biography Helen Hardin: A Straight Line Curved.
Peter Riva is a literary agent and producer who has specialized in international idea and intellectual property brokerage. Since 1975 Peter and his wife, Sandra Riva, have represented multi-national, multi-lingual authors and publishers, as well as producing award-winning television and other media productions through their company, International Transactions, Inc.
Peter has represented authors like Stieg Larsson, Maria Riva, Peter Beard, Ake Edwardson, Pieter Aspe, John Enright, and aerospace notables Rutan and Yeager. In 2013, Peter also created Yucca Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, which features new and independent voices in the book world. With four decades of experience in dealing with authors, publishers, television productions and other media, Peter Riva is ideally placed to describe the changing scene of the publishing industry today, as the traditional publishers’ role morphs to meet the demands of the growth of electronic media outlets and distribution, as well as the concept of “self-publishing.”
Sharman Apt Russell has published a dozen books translated into a dozen languages. Her Diary of a Citizen Scientist (OSU Press, 2014) won the John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing and WILLA Award in Nonfiction. Her 2016 eco-sci-fi, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and her 2015 YA, Teresa of the New World, both won multiple awards, including the Arizona Authors Award and New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Sharman’s next book combines environmental and humanitarian concerns and is tentatively titled Within Our Grasp: Feeding the World’s Children for a Better and Greener Future (Pantheon, 2018). Sharman lives in Gila, New Mexico and teaches part-time at WNMU and Antioch University. For more information, go to www.sharmanaptrussell.com.
Melissa L. Sevigny grew up in Tucson, Arizona where she fell in love with the Sonoran Desert’s ecology, geology and dark desert skies. Her lyrical nonfiction and poetry explores the intersections of science, politics, and history, with a focus on the American Southwest. She is the author of two nonfiction books: Under Desert Skies, published by the University of Arizona Press, and Mythical River, published by University of Iowa Press and named a “Nature Book of Uncommon Merit” by the John Burroughs Association. She is currently the science reporter for Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Kat Sherrell is a conductor, music director, pianist, and writer originally from Silver City, NM. Her work in New York has included Broadway shows In the Heights, Bring It On, and The Book of Mormon and NBC’s Smash, as well as many new musicals in various stages of development, including Sweethearts of Swing, for which she is the lyricist-composer. Sherrell currently resides in Seattle, where she is the associate music supervisor at the acclaimed 5th Avenue Theatre. Follow her haiku on Twitter @pianokatsmeow.
Elise Stuart was selected by the Southwest Festival of the Written Word and the Silver City Town Council to be the second person to hold the honorary title of Silver City Poet Laureate, from 2014 to 2017. As Poet Laureate, she promoted expanding the power of the written word in our community, giving voice to young and old, emphasizing the need for expression through poetry. One of her goals has been to empower youth to create their own poems. Using her experiences with teaching children and her familiarity with schools in the area, she has held a series of poetry workshops for children of all ages, focusing on the human connection with the natural world.
Stuart has led the effort to air a weekly literary radio program on KURU 89.1FM (Gila Mimbres Community Radio) called “Use Your Words!” Her poems have been published in Poems 2, a book of art and poetry; in “The Rag,” a small poetry collection published in Albuquerque; and in “Sunrise of the Spirit.” Her first book of poetry, Another Door Calls, was published in the spring of 2017. For more information, visit Stuart’s website at elisestuart.com.
Laura Tohe has been a writer and scholar for over 23 years. She has published several books of poetry, edited an anthology of Native American women writing, written an oral history book on the Navajo Code Talkers, and written a commissioned libretto for the Phoenix Symphony. Her current project is a commissioned libretto for an opera scheduled for a 2018 premiere in France and Austria. She has been affiliated as a speaker for the AZ Humanities for 21 years. She is the author of Making Friends With Water (chapbook); No Parole Today (poetry); Sister Nations (anthology of women writing); Tseyi, Deep in the Rock (poetry); Code Talker Stories (oral history); Enemy Slayer (libretto and CD) performed by the Phoenix Symphony, Colorado Music Festival and the U of Utah, Salt Lake. Her awards include the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award; Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers; AZ Glyph Award; Pushcart nomination; the Arizona Humanities Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award; Faculty Exemplar (ASU); and she is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2017.
Virus Theater has been producing live, original theater in Silver City, NM for 20 years. The mission of Virus Theater is to create relevant original live theater that is accessible to our diverse community, and to provide educational opportunities for adults and children in the performing arts. Virus Theater’s vision is to bring people together through theater to better understand our shared humanity and to inspire individual and collective growth.
Stewart Warren, author of over twenty poetry collections, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1950. He hit the road early, engaging in a life of trouble-making and creative expression. His poetry is both personal and transpersonal with a mystic undercurrent. As a publishing coach, catalyst and community organizer he helps others realize their creative visions. Stewart owns Mercury HeartLink, a small press in New Mexico.
Bruce Wilson is a writer, historian and educator living in Silver City, New Mexico. He teaches American History and English Composition at Western New Mexico University. His debut novel, Death in the Black Patch (Artemesia Publishing, 2016) has garnered good reviews in local and national publications (including the Louisville, KY Courier-Journal and USA Today). Last fall, Wilson led a workshop for the Southwest Festival of the Written Word which focused on the author’s role in marketing his/her book.
Finding beauty, even solace, in the everyday, Melanie Zipin composes her songs and stories from the material that surrounds her. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Philadelphia, Melanie Zipin is a mixed media artist, performer and singer songwriter with three CD’s of original music to her credit. The lure of adventure and contrast led Zipin to the New Mexico where she met and formed a band with her husband and guitarist, Jeff LeBlanc. Zipin has toured the southwest playing clubs and festivals, and her music has received radio play on stations around the country and in Europe.