Bobby Byrd Thinks Back On The Illustrious Rio Grande Writers Association

Bobby after wedding by Jill


From looking through your blog, I discovered it was 1982 I was the president of the RGWA. Jim Burbank was the VP. My gosh, I didn’t know it was so long ago. Thirty years now. Lee and I had been in El Paso since 1978, having moved here from Las Cruces. Before that, it was Albuquerque. We were going downstream.

In those days I was probably irritated that all RGWA activities centered around Albuquerque, and so I was probably too loud in my complaining, and Voila! Suddenly I became the president.

It was a good time. Mostly because of the friendships that I formed and re-ignited (during the mid-70s I had endured a self-imposed exile from writing and the writing community). The year before, 1981, I had been the VP and Pat Anaya was the president. I got to know Pat and enjoyed her friendship very much. A couple of times we had meetings at hers and Rudy’s house up on the mesa. And then when I was, I think we had one meeting in Albuquerque. Bob Burlingame and I drove up there. That was a great journey. We talked and talked about poetry, like long lost friends, but Bob was such a loner, when we got back to El Paso, we would rarely see each other. A couple of wonderful walks in the desert, a time or two at the university. Bob was such a wonderful poet and an interesting guy.

The other RGWA meeting was here in El Paso. I can’t remember how many folks came down south for that. I remember going across the river, first to the Beer Garden between the brewery and the Indio Baseball Stadium, then later to Julio’s (neither exist anymore). Poet and song-writer Gene Keller was there, serenading us. I’m sure Keith and Heloise were there, Joe and Jill Somoza, some others from Las Cruces, Bob Burlingame, others. I think Dagoberto Gilb read at the reading we did on this side? Joe Olvera also. (Did you come?) It was an important time for me. I was reconnecting to poetry world. During that time (before, after, who knows?), Lee and I started the New El Paso Poetry Series in our living room. Vicki Trego Hill did the posters. We had been disappointed in what UTEP had to offer in terms of readings. We had all sorts of folks–Keith Wilson, Joe Somoza, you, Tony (E.A) Mares, Joy Harjo, Stan Noyes, Jacson MacLow even, others I can’t remember now.

I think it was the energy generated from the RGWA and from the New El Paso Poetry Series that Lee and I felt like we could maybe start a publishing company. Richard Grossinger and Lindy Hough of North Atlantic Press finally gave us the final push to do just that–jump in and get started. Thus, Cinco Puntos Press, named after our Five Points El Paso neighborhood, was born. The DNA of the RGWA was embedded deeply in the books of those first 10 years. Still is. It’s been all uphill ever since! Ha!

Somewhere in my archives I have documents about all of this stuff. If I find them, I’ll copy them and send them along to you. I hope some of this helps. It was nice to see that old poem from the RGWA newsletter. Things seem to change but they seem to stay the same too.

I hope this helps. Abrazos to everybody.

Yes, Bobby, I was there, with Lenore, that’s where we met Mr. Dagoberto Gilb, and I read enjoyably at the poetry event you organized.

Rudolfo Anaya wrote me, concerning these RGWA posts, and I thank you Rudy as
we’ll always be appreciative of your and Patricia’s work getting this organization going . . .

“Larry, great job on RGWA history. It needed to be done. Many Thanks, Rudy”

rgwa newsletter bobby pres


About larry goodell

Poet exploring his viable extensions - publisher, performer, playwright - hand to hand help in creating spaces for poetry to be live in - reading events, recordings, online and tangible publications in the vocal spirit of his New Mexico.
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One Response to Bobby Byrd Thinks Back On The Illustrious Rio Grande Writers Association

  1. Pingback: Rio Grande Writers Association 1976-1991 | lotsa, larry goodell

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