The night of Nov. 15 found many of Santa Fe’s citizens in the lobby of the Armory of the Arts theater, queueing up to purchase copies of Margaret Randall’s latest book, Only the Road / Solo El Camino, which covers 80 years of Cuban poetry. The books disappeared quickly from the table, prompting many people in attendance to purchase their copies before the event began. Inside the theater, scarves and jackets were shed as old friends found each other across aisles, some thumbing through copies of the book as they settled into seats. Bilingual and including short biographies of each poet, Only the Road / Solo El Camino emphasizes diversity as well as excellence, aiming for a balance that asserts that great poetry can be written by any person regardless of class, gender or race. Randall has spent years in Cuba and so is familiar with its people, its culture and its art; her knowledge is clear in her book’s introduction, which attempts to present Cuba’s recent history in a light unbiased by popular opinion.
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The month of November has been difficult for many in America, including myself. Bigotry is on the rise, and every day seems to bring disheartening news. Nonetheless, on Nov. 29, upwards of 50 people squeezed themselves into Collected Works Bookstore, braving the frigid weather outside to hear Dr. Ron D. Hart in conversation with Gloria Abella Ballen. The topic of discussion was Hart’s latest book, Sephardic Jews: History, Religion, and People, which brings together the narratives of Sephardic Jews who were exiled from Spain and settled throughout the world. Perhaps most significant to this audience was that so many Sephardic Jews settled along the Rio Grande river when they arrived in the Americas, including northern New Mexico.
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In describing Anne Carson’s work, one runs into a difficulty, for her work’s largest unifying feature is that everything is subject to change. On Oct. 26, the Lannan Foundation hosted a reading at The Lensic Performing Arts Center—Anne Carson in conversation with Michael Silverblatt, an experience not soon to be forgotten and, as with Carson’s work, difficult to categorize.
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In 2016, James Reich, chairman of the Creative Writing and Literature Department, launched his independent publishing house, Stalking Horse Press, which specializes in the “spiky, angular, errant” and seeks work that “engages with the world.” As a writer with “avant garde tendencies,” Reich has sympathy for writers whose work has difficulty finding a place in mainstream literary publishing. His three books I, Judas, Bombshell, and Mistah Kurtz! each play with the idea of what is “mainstream” and “canon,” air quotes for emphasis. Though his books found a home in Soft Skull Press and Anti-Oedipus Press, Stalking Horse Press represents an “opportunity to give something back…to help people…who have a great manuscript but are finding it difficult to find a publisher willing to take a risk on it.”
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Meet the Underground Correspondents — Todd Harris Jr., Italia Marie and Niko’a Salas — an eclectic trinity, bonded by a mutual love of performative self-expression. Each member comes from wildly different backgrounds—the South, the Northwest, the Northeast—but all brought something from interdisciplinary interests into their spoken word album Social Static. A truly collaborative experience, Social Static was born both of the need to share a message and a desire to bring the members’ work to life in a less-utilized medium.
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Mike Sager’s resume reads less like a timeline and more like a greatest hits reel, with all his stories as steeped in history as they are. Having worked early in his career at the Washington Post under Bob Woodward, he went on to work at magazines such as Rolling Stone, GQ, and Esquire, where he is currently a Writer-at-Large. His stories range from subjects as varied as celebrities to murderers, Paris Hilton to Warren Durso, whose greatest claim to fame is his apparent ugliness. Yet whether he is writing about famous porn star John Holmes or disgraced former journalist Janet Cooke, it is his empathy that stands out for the reader. Through Sager’s work, dignity is returned to his subjects, their lives and stories reclaimed from a public eye that perhaps sees public figures as entertainment first and human beings second. During a whirlwind two days in Santa Fe, Sager granted interviews, readings, and visited SFUAD classes as the Creative Writing and Literature department’s Fall 2016 visiting writer.
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A man of serendipitous luck, Michael J. Wilson’s third year of teaching at SFUAD also marks the publication of his first poetry collection A Child Of Storm. Born in England, Wilson spent his childhood moving from place to place. Along with his time at the New School in New York City, these experiences shaped the poems that would eventually constitute his first book, solidifying an already-present fascination with the life of Nikola Tesla and shifting his focus to the way people relate to each other. With only days left until the book release, Wilson spoke with Jackalope Magazine about his writing process and the themes of his poetry.
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Michael J. Wilson’s A Child of Storm publishes Oct. 10, 2016 and can be purchased through the publisher’s website or Amazon.