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JJ Amaworo Wilson

JJ Amaworo Wilson is the writer-in-residence at Western New Mexico University, Editorial Director of Mimbres Press of WNMU, and co-chair of Southwest Word Fiesta. His work has been published in The Penguin Book of New Black Writing, African American Review, Justice Journal, The New York Journal of Books, and A Public Space, among many others. His 2016 novel Damnificados won four awards, was an Oprah Top Pick, and has since been translated into French and German. Another novel, Nazaré, came out in 2021. He has also written several books about language, two of which won awards that saw him honored at Buckingham Palace in 2008 and 2011. His plays have been produced on four continents, most recently in Gaza, Palestine (2021). Amaworo Wilson has lived in eleven countries and visited 70.

Thursday, October 21, 6:00-8:00 Jack Crocker in Conversation with JJ Amaworo Wilson

Sharman Apt Russell 

Sharman has published some dozen award-winning books translated into nine languages. Her most recent Within Our Grasp: Childhood Malnutrition Worldwide and the Revolution Taking Place to End It (Pantheon Books, 2021) has been described as “engrossing”  and “poignant, humane, and grounded in optimism.” Her Diary of a Citizen Scientist won the John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Natural History Writing. Her awards include a Rockefeller Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, and the Writers at Work Award. An author of both fiction and nonfiction, she lives in the magical realism of the American Southwest.

Saturday, October 23, 4:00-5:00 Advice for Writers
Sunday, October 24, 10:00-11:00 Nonfiction

Rick Bass

Rick Bass’s stories, articles and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Harper’s, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, and numerous other periodicals. He has served as a contributing editor to Audubon, OnEarth, Field & Stream, Big Sky Journal, and Sports Afield, and currently writes a regular column for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, as well as for an online hunting magazine, Contemporary Sportsman. A well-known environmental activist, Bass is author of over twenty books. He was born in Texas and lives in Montana.

Friday, October 22, 2:00-3:00 Keynote

Sheila Black

Author most recently of a chapbook All the Sleep in the World (Alabrava Press, 2021). Her fifth full-length book, Vivisection, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, the New York Times, and elsewhere. She works for AWP, lives in San Antonio, Texas and is a co-founder of Zoeglossia, a non-profit that builds community for disabled poets.

Friday, October 22, 6:30-7:30 Felipe de Ortego y Gasca presentation: Writing and Activism
Sunday, October 24, 11:30-12:30 Poetry

Bobby and Lee Byrd, photo by Debbie Nathan

Bobby Byrd

Mr. Byrd grew up in Memphis during the golden age of the city’s music scene. “That music,” he says, “probably saved my life.” Byrd and his wife, Lee, moved in 1978 to El Paso. In 1985 they founded Cinco Puntos Press, a very independent publishing company rooted in the US/Mexican border. Byrd has published ten books of poems, his most recent being Otherwise My Life is Ordinary. He has received an NEA Fellowship for Poetry; the D.H. Lawrence Fellowship; an International Fellowship in Mexico funded jointly by the NEA and Belles Artes de México, and, with his wife Lee, a Lannan Fellowship for Cultural Freedom.

Saturday 23, 11:30-12:30 Book Business

Adrienne Celt, photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz Photography

Adrienne Celt

Author of three novels, including End of the World House (forthcoming 4/19/22); Invitation to a Bonfire, which was a 2018 Indie Next Pick and a Financial Times Pick for Best Books of the Year; and Daughters, which won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award for Fiction. Her collection of cartoons, Apocalypse How? An Existential Bestiary came out in 2016. Her work has appeared in the 2016 O. Henry Prize Stories, McSweeney’s, Zyzzyva, Ecotone, The Kenyon Review, Strange Horizons, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She publishes a weekly webcomic and lives in Tucson.

Saturday 23, 5:30-6:30 Fiction

Denise Chávez

Ms. Chávez is a Fronteriza writer, bookseller, and activist. She is founder of Libros Para El Viaje, a Refugee, Migrant and Asylum-seeker book donation initiative that has donated over 27, 000 books to families and children since the summer of 2018. Chávez is the owner of Casa Camino Real Bookstore in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is the author of The King and Queen of Comezón and Loving Pedro Infante, among other works. Chávez and her husband, photographer Daniel Zolinsky, are working on Museo de La Gente, an archival resource and cultural center to be located in the Mesquite Historical District on the Camino Real.

Friday 22, 3:30-4:30 Advice for Novelists

Catalina Claussen

Catalina Claussen

A southwestern storyteller, young adult novelist, and poet whose works include young adult novels Diamonds at Dusk (2016), Diamonds at Dawn (2018), Being Home: A Southwestern Almanac (2020), and Holding on to Hope (2020). Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and now a long-time resident of the Mimbres Valley, Claussen has gained an appreciation for the slow pace of small-town living. Her work has been recognized by the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, Wishing Shelf Book Awards (in the UK), and the New Apple Book Awards for Independent Publishing.  

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Fiction

Philip Connors

Author of three books: A Song for the River, All the Wrong Places, and Fire Season, Mr. Connors lives and works in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

Saturday 23, 4:00-5:00 The Sussillo-Mahler Environmental History panel

Jack Crocker

Jack Crocker’s poems have appeared in many magazines and journals and in anthologies of Texas Writers and Mississippi Writers. The Texas Review Press published a collection of his poems in 2009 entitled The Last Resort. He has published fiction in the Cimarron Review. His “introduction to Folksongs,” scripted and performed, was aired nationally on PBS. A songwriter, he also was a recording artist with Fretone Records in Memphis. A Poet Laureate Emeritus of Silver City and Grant County, Jack released his most recent collection The Algorithm of I (Mimbres Press) in 2021. 

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Poetry

M. John Fayhee

Editor of the Mountain Gazette for twelve years and a long-time contributor to Backpacker magazine, he has written for Canoe & Kayak, Overland Journal, REI Co-Op Journal, the High Country News, Family Camping, the Walking Magazine, USA Today, Islands, Adventure Travel and Men’s Fitness, along with too many other magazines and newspapers to count. Fayhee is the author of ten books, including Bottoms Up and Smoke Signals, the latter of which was a Colorado Book Awards finalist. He has hiked the Appalachian, Colorado, Arizona and Inca trails, as well as the Colorado section of the Continental Divide Trail. Fayhee lives in New Mexico’s Gila Country, where he is working on a book about a successfully completed quest to hike every day for a solid year.

Sunday 24, 10:00-11:00 Essays

Susan Gardner

Poet, painter, photographer, and founding editor of Red Mountain Press, she is the author of six books and has appeared in numerous anthologies. As the principal at Red Mountain, she has edited and designed over eighty books. Her art has been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries. She delivered the Cam Memorial Lecture at the New York Public Library, where she was honored to be granted a year in the Allen Room. She has presented extensive lectures and readings including at the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Folger Library. She has been invited to residencies at the American Academy in Rome, 2018, 2019, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Armaghkerrig, Ireland 2022 and many others in interesting places.

Saturday 23, 11:30-12:30 Book Business

Anne Hillerman

Santa Fe author Anne Hillerman continues the mystery series her father, Tony Hillerman, created beginning in 1970, but with her own voice. Anne’s debut novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter, received the Spur Award for Best First Novel. Five novels followed, each a New York Times best-seller. The Tale Teller (2019) calls attention to the Navajo Long Walk and the treaty that established the Navajo Nation. Before turning to fiction, Anne published several non-fiction books and worked for many years as a reporter and editor. She recently received the Frank Waters Award for contributions to the literature of the Southwest. Her latest novel is Stargazer (2021).

Wednesday, October 20, 4:00-6:30 Hillerman Day: Anne will discuss and read from her latest novel, Stargazer.

Brandon Hobson

Brandon Hobson is the author of the recent novel, The Removed, Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Reading the West Award; and other books. His fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2021, McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, NOON, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at New Mexico State University and in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.

Friday, October 22, 3:30-4:30 Advice for Novelists
Saturday October 23, 5:30-6:30 Fiction

Jack Loeffler

A lifelong outdoorsman, he has hiked extensively, camping throughout the American West and Mexico, and has rafted many rivers. He has supported himself as a self-styled aural historian visiting and often living in native villages and academic and scientific communities conducting interviews and recording music and lore as well as diverse habitats. Using his recordings, he has produced about 400 documentary radio programs for Public Radio, and many sound collages for museums. He has written several books and scores of essays. He has donated his aural history archive to the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.

Saturday 23, 4:00-5:00 The Sussillo-Mahler Environmental History panel

James McGrath Morris

James McGrath Morris is a biographer and writer of narrative non-fiction. His multi-award-winning books include the New York Times bestselling Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black PressPulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power; The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism; and, Jailhouse Journalism: The Four Estate Behind Bars. Morris has written extensively for newspapers and magazines, and is the former president of Biographers International Organization, of which he was among the original founders. In 2019 he received the BIO Award, given to a writer who has made a major contribution to the art of biography. His latest book is Tony Hillerman: A Life (2021). Morris lives in Santa Fe, NM.

Wednesday, October 20, 4:00-6:30 Hillerman Day: James will discuss and read from his latest book, Tony Hillerman: A Life.

Katayoun Medhat

An intercultural psychotherapist, anthropologist and ethnographer living in the UK, she lost her heart to the land of enchantment while doing PhD research on culture, mental health and post-colonial relations around the Navajo Nation, where the vast landscapes, hospitality and humor remind her of the country of her birth, Iran. Multicultural and multilingual, Katayoun is now happy to call nowhere and everywhere home. Katayoun’s award-winning Milagro Mysteries travel the contemporary Southwest, reflecting its splendor, challenges and paradoxes through the eyes of small-town cop Franz Kafka.

Saturday 23, 2:30-3:30 Mystery novels

Bobby and Lee Byrd, photo by Debbie Nathan

Lee Merrill Byrd 

Novelist and publisher Lee Merrill Byrd was born and raised in New Jersey but has spent most of her life in the Southwest, and the last forty years in El Paso. In 1985, with her husband, poet Bobby Byrd, she founded Cinco Puntos Press, a publishing house recognized for its bilingual and multicultural books for children, young adults and adults. Lee has published a collection of short stories, My Sister Disappears (SMU Press), three children’s books, The Treasure on Gold Street, Juanito Counts to Ten and Birdie’s Beauty Parlor (Cinco Puntos) and a novel Riley’s Fire (Algonquin). In 1997, she was the recipient of the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship. In 2005, she and her husband received Cultural Freedom Fellowships from the Lannan Foundation.

Saturday 23, 11:30-12:30 Book Business

Kris Neri

Kris Neri’s latest novel, Hopscotch Life, a quirky, offbeat crime novel-women’s fiction crossover, recently won the second of Kris’s New Mexico-Arizona Book Award wins. She also writes the Tracy Eaton mysteries and the Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty magical mysteries, three of which were honored with Lefty Award nominations for humor, along with being finalists for a number of other awards. A former bookseller, Kris also teaches writing online for the Writers’ Program of the UCLA Extension School and other organizations. She makes her home in Silver City, NM.

Friday 22, 3:30-4:30 Advice for Novelists
Saturday 23, 2:30-3:30 Mystery novels

Cynthia E. Orozco

Historian, Professor of History and Humanities at Eastern New Mexico University, Ruidoso, she is the author of No Mexicans, Women or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, the University of Texas’ best-selling academic book between 2010 and 2020; Agent of Change: Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist, which won the Liz Carpenter Award for Best Book in Texas women’s history 2020 from the Texas State Historical Association; and Pioneer of Mexican American Civil Rights: Alonso S. Perales just published by Arte Publico Press.

Sunday 24, 11:30-12:30 History

Mónica Ortiz Uribe

Ms. Ortiz Uribe writes about diversity and inequality for the El Paso Times and the USA Today network. She’s also a longtime contributor to National Public Radio. Born and raised on the U.S./Mexico border, Mónica straddles two countries, two cultures, and two languages both personally and professionally. Her first nationally broadcast story was about the missing and murdered women of Ciudad Juárez. She’s also written about Mexico’s judicial reform, binational drug violence, and the impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policies on the southern border. 

Saturday 23, 11:30-12:30 Journalism

Phillip Parotti

Mr. Parotti grew up in Silver City, NM, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963, served on three destroyers during the Vietnam era, took his graduate degrees at The University of New Mexico, and taught English literature at Sam Houston State University for 32 years. Having published four novels and more than one hundred short stories and essays, he is now retired to Silver City where he continues to write and work as a woodcut artist. His next novel, A Cast of Falcons, will be published by Casemate in November 2021.

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Fiction

Laura Paskus

A longtime environment reporter based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she is currently the environment reporter for New Mexico PBS, and produces the monthly series, “Our Land: New Mexico’s Environmental Past, Present and Future.” Her book At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing Climate was published in September 2020 by the University of New Mexico Press. 

Saturday 23, 4:00-5:00 The Sussillo-Mahler Environmental History panel 

Peter Riva

Born in New York City, and raised there and in London and Switzerland, Riva loves where he lives now best of all: Gila, New Mexico. As creator of over 78 hours of primetime wildlife television, he spent a ton of time in parts of Africa, helped found a film history museum in Berlin, worked for more than 30 years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration, negotiated environmental causes with the UN, USA and USSR, and acted as literary agent for over 100 authors. He draws on these experiences in shaping the tales he writes—for pure pleasure.

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Fiction 
Saturday 23, 4:00-5:00 Advice for Writers

Levi Romero

Mr. Romero was selected as the inaugural New Mexico Poet Laureate in 2020 and New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012. His most recent book is the co-edited anthology, Querencia: Reflections on the New Mexico Homeland. His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He is co-author of Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland. He is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico.

Sunday 24, 11:30-12:30 Poetry

Dara Saville

Ms. Saville is an author, herbalist, geographer, mother, and native plant advocate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the founder of Albuquerque Herbalism, a bioregional herbal studies program, and the Executive Director of the Yerba Mansa Project, a non-profit organization focused on native plant restoration along the Middle Rio Grande. Dara is a contributing author to numerous herbal compendium books and a blogger at She is also the author of the University of New Mexico Press book, The Ecology of Herbal Medicine: A Guide to Plants and Living Landscapes of the American Southwest.

Friday 22, 3:30-4:30 Health

Naomi Shihab Nye

Ms. Shihab Nye’s most recent books are Everything Comes Next: Collected & New Poems; Cast Away (poems about trash); The Tiny Journalist (for Palestine); and Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners. She is the Young People’s Poet Laureate for the United States through the Poetry Foundation and lives in San Antonio, Texas. 

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Poetry

Beate Sigriddaughter

Growing up in Nürnberg, Germany, her playgrounds were a nearby castle and World War II bomb ruins. She lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), where she was Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her latest collection of prose poems is Kaleidoscope (Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2021). A short story collection, Dona Nobis Pacem, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in December 2021. In her blog Writing In A Woman’s Voice, she publishes other women’s voices.

Saturday 23, 10:00-11:00 Poetry

Katherine Standefer, photo by Luke Parsons Photography

Katherine Standefer

Ms. Standefer’s Lightning Flowers: My Journey To Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice/Staff Pick, an Oprah Magazine’s Best Books of Fall 2020 pick, made the shortlist for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. Her writing appeared in The Best American Essays 2016. Standefer earned her MFA at the University of Arizona and teaches in Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA. She lives on a mesa outside Santa Fe with her chickens.

Friday 22, 3:30-4:30 Health

Elise Stuart

Elise Stuart

Elise Stuart moved to Silver City, New Mexico in 2005, and her heart opened to the small miracles of the desert. She served as Poet Laureate for Silver City and Grant County and gave numerous poetry workshops for youth, hanging students’ original poems, draped like prayer flags, in libraries, coffee shops and schools. She published a book of poetry and a memoir in 2017, and continues to write, branching out into short stories. She is working on her second collection of poetry.

Friday 22, 5:00-6:00 Poetry

Carmen Tafolla

As the First City Poet Laureate of San Antonio, State Poet Laureate of Texas, and former President of the Texas Institute of Letters, Dr. Tafolla has authored more than 40 books, including the award-winning The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans. She is a Professor Emerita at UTSA, and Recipient of the Américas Award, five International Latino Book Awards, and many other distinctions. Recognized for work which “gives voice to the peoples and cultures of this land,” Tafolla’s upcoming novel-in-verse from Penguin, Guerrera Warrior, is due to be released in February of 2023.

Friday 22, 6:30-7:30 Felipe de Ortego y Gasca Presentation: Writing and Activism
Saturday 23, 10:00-11:00 Poetry

Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso is the author of A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son (Cinco Puntos Press), a collection of linked short stories on immigration, which was described by Luis Alberto Urrea as “a world-class collection.” Troncoso also edited the 2021 anthology Nepantla Familias: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in between Worlds (Texas A&M University Press), which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. A Fulbright scholar, Troncoso is currently president of the Texas Institute of Letters and teaches at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.

Friday 22, 6:30-7:30 Felipe de Ortego y Gasca Presentation: Writing and Activism
Saturday 23, 10:00-11:00 Fiction

Kirstin Valdez Quade

Ms. Valdez Quade is the author of the novel The Five Wounds and the story collection Night at the Fiestas, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. She is the recipient of a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, the Rome Prize, a Stegner Fellowship, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at Princeton University.

Saturday 23, 10:00-11:00 Fiction

Veronica E. Velarde Tiller

Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, (Jicarilla Apache), is an historian and author. In 1976 she received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of New Mexico. Her major books are: “History of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe: 1846-1980 and Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country, a reference guide to 567 federally-recognized tribesIn 2017, this Guide earned her a place on the Wall of Fame for the City of Albuquerque and in 2018, a national first place award for self-published non-fiction from Writer’s Digest. With a National Science Foundation grant, she is working on preserving her tribal language.

Sunday 24, 11:30-12:30 History

Lauren Villagran, photo by Roberto Rosales.

Lauren Villagran

Lauren Villagran is a reporter who covers immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border for the El Paso Times. 

Saturday 23, 11:30-12:30 Journalism

five cast members of the Virus Theater performing

Virus Theater


Silver City’s local theater troupe was founded in 1997. Their mission is to create original live theater that is relevant to our community, educate our community’s adults and children about theater, and produce theatrical performances that are accessible to our diverse community.

Connie Voisine

Ms. Voisine is the author of the book of poems The Bower, begun on a Fulbright Fellowship to Northern Ireland. A previous book, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Her first book, Cathedral of the North, won the Associated Writing Program’s Award in Poetry. She has poems published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Voisine is a 2021-2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

Saturday 23, 10:00-11:00 Poetry
Saturday 23, 4:00-5:00 Advice for Writers

Allison Waterman

Ms. Waterman (pronouns: she/her) is an avid reader, writer, and researcher who has been published many times, having her poetry, short stories and newspaper columns celebrated locally and nationwide. She was a member of Silver City Slam and participates in Poetry Bread events. She is currently Silver City and Grant County’s Poet Laureate. She cherishes her three sons and two brothers and finds joy in the everyday happenings of life, particularly in the mountains and hot springs of Southern New Mexico. Allison has lived in Silver City on and off since 1995. She is a WNMU graduate student and runs the Writing Center on campus, which fills her with purpose and enthusiasm.

Sunday 24, 11:30-12:30 Poetry

Eve West Bessier

An award-winning author and Poet Laureate Emerita of Silver City and Grant County, Ms. West Bessier’s monthly Write On! blog is hosted by Southwest Word Fiesta. Born in the Netherlands, Eve immigrated to the United States at age seven. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Education. Her writing is widely published, most recently in The Los Angeles Review. Her new book release is, Pink Cadillacs: Short Stories. Her other books include New Rain: a visionary novel, Roots Music: Listening to Jazz,and Exposures: Tripod Poems.

Sunday 24, 1:00-2:00 Reading and Book Launch

Josh Wheeler

Joshua Wheeler is from Alamogordo, New Mexico. His essays have appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, Sonora Review, PANK, and The Missouri Review. He’s written feature stories for BuzzFeed and Harper’s Magazine online and is a coeditor of the anthology We Might as Well Call It the Lyric Essay. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, New Mexico State University, and has an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. He teaches creative writing at Louisiana State University.

Sunday 24, 10:00-11:00 Essays