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The Southwest Festival of the Written Word is pleased to announce a new series called BOOKCHAT. The series consists of interviews with southwest writers who have new books out. Our very first author in this series is the Poet Laureate of Silver City and Grant County, Eve West Bessier.

When were you happiest?

I am actually happiest right now in my life, and that’s a pleasure to realize! It’s been a long and often difficult journey to get here. I am grateful to be living in a place where wilderness is in my backyard, while culture is in my front yard! That’s a rare combination and I love how Silver City offers that perfect blend.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I grew up Catholic and went to St. Emydius Elementary School in San Francisco where the elderly principal—let’s just call her Sister Long Gone—told us as we did jumping jacks in neat rows in the playground, that, “To waste time was a sin against God.” So, now I try not to feel guilty about any pleasures, but I especially enjoy “wasting time” out on the lounge chair, staring up at the trees, the clouds, or the stars. I don’t consider this a waste of time at all, but Sister Long Gone would have frowned upon it, I’m sure!

What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I get annoyed with my tendency to second guess my decisions. I am beginning to trust that my experience in life combined with my instincts can lead me to making solid decisions and second guessing them after the fact is a waste of energy that just makes me flip flop in ways that are counterproductive! Never change your answer on an exam! That’s what they say. Your initial hit is almost always correct.

What’s the trait you most deplore in others?

Willful stupidity! I’m not talking about people who just happen to not be very smart. I’m taking about people who are plenty smart but choose to behave stupidly. Who are stubbornly dedicated to not changing their point of view, no matter what. Who refuse to change their behavior, no matter how destructive. Unfortunately, willful stupidity appears to be abundantly present in our species.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?

Find joy in the small things. Find happiness in things that are simple and attainable, otherwise you can really make yourself miserable!

What book(s) are you reading now?

Body & Soul by Frank Conroy (terrific, by the way!). Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters (a classic!). Hey, that’s two books by authors named Frank! How about that? I am also re-reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön, for about the tenth time. Always powerful.

What books might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

The screenplay of the film “My Dinner With Andre,” by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory.
The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire.

Which writers working today do you admire most? Why?

I greatly admire Barbara Kingsolver. She continues over the decades to write engaging fiction that supports her environmental values without hitting her readers over the head with her political agenda. Her stories are meticulously researched, brilliantly woven, and eloquently written.
I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing, a first novel by Delia Owens. I look forward to reading more. Her writing is so clear and her storytelling is engagingly intriguing.
Michael P. Branch. I loved his latest book, How to Cuss in Western. He is funny as heck, poignant and knows his environmental facts.

Which genres do you read? Which do you avoid? Why?

I read a lot of environmentalist writers, especially ones who have a sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously! I also read a lot of books on personal psychology and spiritual awakening. I read poetry collections and fiction that uplifts and renews. I don’t think I’ve ever read a genre romance novel, though I’ve certainly read novels in which romance is key, like anything by Jane Austen, for instance! I never read thrillers or horror books. My adrenals just don’t like that kind of a punch. Though I have read a lot of Ann Patchett, and those books are full of tension! I’ve also read all of Tony Hillerman’s books, which are murder mysteries that walk on the edge of being thrillers at times.

What book(s) “should” you have read but haven’t, or what “classic” couldn’t you finish?

I really, really want to finish reading Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose (after all, it did win a Pulitzer). I keep starting it, but in these turbulent and painful times, I’m just not up for the sadness! Maybe when our collective life is a little less off a cliff.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, and Barbara Kingsolver. That could lead to some interesting conversations!

Tell us about your latest book in no more than 50 words.

Exposures: Tripod Poems is an autobiographical collection. Each poem is an exposure based on personal experience, a brief philosophical treatise, a candid self-revelation. Combined they document a seven-year journey through loss to renewal. These poems are often filled with gentle humor as the catalyst to insight and transformation.

Where can we find this book? is the easiest location.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

Enriching Life Through Learning in Community

We respectfully acknowledge that the entirety of southwestern New Mexico is the traditional territory, since time immemorial, of the Chis-Nde, also known as the people of the Chiricahua Apache Nation. The Chiricahua Apache Nation is recognized as a sovereign Native Nation by the United States in the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Friendship of 1 July 1852 (10 Stat. 979) (Treaty of Santa Fe ratified 23 March 1853 and proclaimed by President Franklin Pierce 25 March 1853).

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Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University is a traditional academic press that welcomes agented and unagented submissions in the following genres: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, memoir, poetry, children’s books, historical fiction, and academic books. We are particularly interested in academic work and commercial work with a strong social message, including but not limited to works of history, reportage, biography, anthropology, culture, human rights, and the natural world. We will also consider selective works of national and global significance.