I put together a patchwork history of the beloved Rio Grande Writers Association as a start to bring in other comments and stories. Jim Harris sent this response.
Good morning, Larry,
That is impressive coverage of the RGWA. It made me remember all that I had missed by creating friendships with many members after the initial conference and publication in 1976.
My first friendships (in the late 1970s) were with Keith, Rudy & Pat, and Tony Hillerman–I brought all four of them to New Mexico Junior College for presentations, Tony twice and Keith six or seven times over the years. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, several other members came to the college, including yourself, Joe Somoza, and Bobby Byrd. As a spinoff of those connections, I developed friendships with many New Mexico writers and non-NM writers, all who came to Hobbs at one time or another, including David Johnson, Maine’s Ted Enslin, Canada’s Glen Sorestad and Peter Christensen, NM’s Bob Gish, Florida’s John Dufresne, California’s Gerald Lochlin, NM’s Richard Bodner, and many others. Frank Waters never came here, but I visited him several times at his home.
I remain friends with several of the individuals. For instance, Glen Sorestad and I have fished together in northern Saskatchewan every spring for the last 21 years. Glen and I communicate weekly, and along with our wives we have been together in several places in Canada and the US. It was Keith who introduced us, in 1983, I think it was. I got to know Keith through the RGWA.
I will have to research the years these writers came to the southeast corner of the state, but I moved to Hobbs in 1974 when I started teaching a NMJC. They came to read from and talk about their work, and their visits came about because of the RGWA community you helped create. It did, indeed, have a state-wide influence. One year Mary and I went to UNM’s D.H. Lawrence facility for what I think was an RGWA gathering. I know Keith and Heloise were there, but I do not remember the names of others. Do you remember RGWA meetings at that site?
I’m putting in the mail to you this morning a book my Lea County Museum Press just published last month, a second book of poems by Peter Mladinic. This is the 11th book I have published in the 11 years I have been at the LCM. Pete is from New Jersey and has taught at NMJC for 20 years. Don’t remember if you have met him. Most of the books from the LCM Press have been history and folklore. You can see them on my museum web site.
Time flies, doesn’t it, Larry?
But life is good, and I enjoy every minute of each day and night. Thanks for bringing back some good memories.
Cheryl Howard, El Paso, Texas
Directory of New Mexico Literary Sources 1980-1981, Cheryl Howard, Editor, RGWA, 1979 (60 pp.) listed writers, poets, booksellers, publishers, with invaluable comprehensive information about each. Invaluable source for poets & others for years. Cheryl sent this.
Good memories. The directory that I edited was when Norm Zollinger was president of RGWA. I remember going up (from downtown) to his bookstore and discussing matters pertaining to the directory, to life, to writing, to living in New Mexico. I still have my copy of the directory, and looked through it not too long ago. I am still very proud of it, put together with an IBM selectric, a light box and a jar of rubber cement… in the days before computers and desktop publishing.
It was a vibrant time in Albuquerque, and I too remember the Downtown Saturday night events. What fun, even in the rain. UNM hosted regular events and brought in many writers, both regional and nationally acclaimed,during this time period. There were also several smaller events at restaurants, cafes and bars. I remember doing two performance events, one called “Standing Lamps” with Michelle Miller, Carol Berge, and a couple of others (possibly Ray Sipe and Mark Funk). This was at a restaurant on Yale I think. Then Ray Sipe and I did another performance event at a downtown venue, called “Janus.” I don’t remember the names of either venue, sorry.
P.S. I also remember that RGWA was a member of the Albuquerque Arts Alliance (now morphed into Creative Albuquerque). I did some work with Jane Sprague (Bobby [Byrd] knows her) on the inception of this group.
Thanks Jim & Cheryl . . . more to come. RGWA kept us in touch with much of the state: Artesia, Hobbs, Taos, El Paso (close by), Santa Fe and all other places where creative literature is alive . . . Hallelujah!
Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico