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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: September 16, 2002
Volume 38, Number 5

Creative Writing faculty present poets and writers series
Chavez and Thiel featured Sept. 26

By Carolyn Gonzales

Lisa Chavez and Diane Thiel, new to the English Department’s Creative Writing Program, kick off the Poets and Writers Reading Series on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Jonson Gallery.

Thiel, poet and author of “Echolocations,” which received the Nicholas Roerich Award from Story Line Press (2000), and “Writing Your Rhythm,” joins the faculty after a year on a Fulbright grant in Odessa, on the Black Sea.

One of her major themes is the effect of war and trauma on children and future generations. Her poem, “The Minefield,” which deals with her father’s childhood in Germany, recounts his seeing a friend blown up in a minefield and ends with the ways in which he passed his experience to his children:

“In the way we still expect, years later and continents away,
that anything might explode at any time
and we would have to run on alone
with a vision like that
only seconds behind.”

“I’ve always loved the area – from the landscape to the fascinating layers of culture and history. The Creative Writing Program has been heading in exciting new directions, which I look forward to helping to shape. University of New Mexico also suits a particular interest of mine – translation. I grew up speaking several languages, and much of my writing deals with issues of language and cross-cultural experience,” says Thiel. “The poets and writers series is a terrific way to bring a constant flow of new energy into the program.”

Chavez is the author of, “In an Angry Season” and “Destruction Bay.” She says, “I was easy to entice to UNM because I had long wanted to come here. I felt especially lucky to get this job. While I have never lived in New Mexico myself, my family has always lived in this area, so this is sort of homecoming for me. I have no doubt the move will have a profound effect on my writing and my life—one of my projects is to connect with my family here and to explore my roots here in New Mexico. Much of my writing is based on the way people of various races, cultures and ethnicities both clash and come together, and I believe New Mexico’s unique cultural mix will inspire me to continue this sort of work.”

Chavez is excited to work with UNM’s cultural mix of students.  “My heritage as a person of mixed Latina/Native American/Anglo background has profoundly influenced my writing. I hope to be able to work with students from diverse backgrounds and help them explore their own experiences and traditions,” she says.

“As for the writers’ series—I think it is a great opportunity for people to sample a wide variety of writing, and I’m excited to be included in it,” says Chavez.

Assistant Professor of English Greg Martin says, “The Poets and Writers Reading Series is being brought back with some vigor just this year after languishing for quite awhile.” The Creative Writing Program has grown in the last two years from two faculty members to six fulltime, tenure track teachers, he says. Fiction writer Dan Mueller and Martin were hired last August and, with the addition of Thiel and Chavez, Martin says, “the program is now back on its feet and able to tackle and promote the series again.”