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Weaving the Terrain: Southwestern Poems

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Weaving the Terrain0001Weaving the Terrain is a large collection edited by David Meischen and Scott Wiggerman.  It contains 211 poems, by many poets—a minority of the contributors have supplied more than one poem.  The subject matter ranges across the southwestern states and over many themes.  There are plenty of roadrunners, vultures and coyotes, historical moments both familiar and lesser known, and a lot of sand.  There are personal stories as well, events that “just happen” to take place in a southwestern locale.

The full subtitle is 100-word southwestern poems.  This challenge, it turns out, can be met in many ways, by many shapes and styles.  Instead of the usual blurbs on the back cover, the comments are about the interesting project of fitting poems to this measure.  Every hyphen or article changed the word count.  That effort, however, rarely is visible in the finished product.P1010054

I have a poem in this collection.  It’s in the section called “Half-Lives Slowly Ticking” but is primarily about one of those lesser known historical moments, the feud between cattleman Oliver Lee and lawyer Albert Fountain.

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This book seems to me primarily a book for poets, those who will explore the shapes and guess at the choices of various poems.  But I think it might provide much interest to those who imagine the southwest but have never been there.  A gift for prospective visitors?  Dos Gatos Press managed to keep the price for 235 pages of poetry to a reasonable $19.95.P1010059

I’ve illustrated this report with a few native plants from my garden: apache plume, a cactus, and my mesquite tree.  The tree is just leafing out and that is considered a trustworthy sign that it is safe to put out tender annuals.  Frost is over.

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A Winter Walk

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It was a hike, really, but a short one.  I had to make a trip down to El Paso and stopped in the Franklin Mountains on the way back for a short trip up a canyon.  It was a trail I had not walked before and I was disappointed at the rockiness of the old jeep road up.  The weather was poor: wind blowing up a lot of dust across the valley below.  In time my irritation subsided in the pleasures and challenge of the moment.

canyonThere was lots of red soil and rock

red rock

And yucca plants sturdy on the slopes.

yuccaI love the color of the hillside, but it is hard to capture: the deader stalks provide a background I think of as mauve, a sort of dusty dim purple, for the bright yellow-green of the scattered prickly pear.

carpet lookI can imagine a carpet in those colors, but since I have no place to put one, I admire it across the canyon. I return from an adventure like this thinking I must do this more often.  Spring and its increasing heat will be here soon.  I’ll hope for better light for photographs next time.

Sin Fronteras Journal now accepting submissions

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Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal is an annual journal published in Southern New Mexico by Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage a community of writers, develop an audience for those writers, and give voice to those whose voices may not be heard.  Issue #16 has just been published; the cover art is by Helen Stork.

 

 

 

Sin Fronteras is now accepting poems, short stories, essays or short plays for issue # 17.  Submissions must be unpublished but are not limited to writers of the Southwest, and “borders” can be interpreted broadly.  Send 3-5 poems or one short prose piece to:

Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders
c/o DAAC
PO Box 1721
Las Cruces, NM  88004

Deadline is June 30, 2012

Copies of Issue No. 16 are available from the address above for $8 plus $2 postage; prior issues are available for $5 each plus $2 postage.

Dick Thomas and Ellen Roberts Young are co-editors of the Journal.  Other readers include Joan Glickler, Duncan Hayse and Michelle Holland.  Michael Mandel is manager of the organization, which also sponsors open readings at Palacio Bar in Mesilla, New Mexico, on the third Tuesday of the month. You can also find Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders on Facebook.

Ascent Goes Public

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Let this bold blooming yucca in my neighbor’s yard stand for the achievement of the five southwestern women poets as we presented our work in our book Ascent to the public today at our local library.

Some of us have been writing for decades, others only recently, but for all of us this is work of our maturity.  Three years of critiquing each others’ work had not blurred the difference in the way we see our world.

I shared this observation on the environment where I now live:

A jackrabbit feeds on
freeze-dried prickly pear,
bolts a my approach,
happy in his speed, doing
what he’s made for.

Susan Gomez describes a dust storm in “Fury”:

Our small car listed
as we navigated the wind
with its airborne sediment. . . .

Air and silt, violent, howled into the night.

Teral Katahara closely observes another part of our landscape:

I stop to see Sandia and pungent Jalapeno
chile plants
sitting in the neighbor’s field. . . . .

Sun shines through
translucent red skins
splotched with warm gold.

The other poets chose to share pieces about their past.  Lucille Tully recalls Chicago in “State Street 1957”:

Now in the quiet of the late night
I walk alone except for the one

staggering drunk who does his dance
while I smile, do mine, to stay clear of his

Still, as strange, silent companions
we share this concrete way.

Polly Evans, eldest and in many ways wisest of the group, encompasses a lifetime in “Hide and Seek,” beginning with basement and closet. Then

The apple tree was easy . . .
I hid in the foliage.
The big dog knew I was there;
I watched the cats,
and the kids coming home.

After a stanza about hiding in early marriage, the poem concludes:

The night you died
there was no place to hide.

Ascent is a truly self-published book, available only from the authors.  See the Books page and use the Contact page for more information.