Campus News - September 4, 2001
Writers find inspiration in Taos
UNM summer conference doubles attendance
By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez
is where stories are painted. For writers, its creativitys canvas.
Ive been wanting to do this for three years, said Whitney
Woodward, attendee of the third annual UNM Taos Summer Writers Conference
in July. I think as writers we are drawn to the mystique of the area.
Woodward, who recently earned a masters in English from UNM, took part
in a five-day workshop Advanced Novel taught by Joseph Skibell author
of A Blessing on the Moon. Workshops in fiction, poetry, creative
non-fiction, travel writing, publishing and historical fiction were offered
to quench writers thirst for inspiration.
Author readings and a publishing panel broadened the learning experience for
participants and were also open to the public. John Randall of the UNM Bookstore
and Michaela Seidel, Ph.D. student in American Studies, staffed a book table.
The conference is self-supporting and with the addition of weekend workshops,
attendance has doubled to 130 participants.
This year, participants came from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska and
we had several participants from Canada as well, said Sharon Oard Warner,
conference founder, coordinator and director of Creative Writing in the UNM
I am happy to report that more people are coming to the conference from
UNM. Bob Gassaway, associate professor in Communication and Journalism,
attended both the weekend and the weeklong workshops, she added. We
also offer internships for graduate students.
Sharon is the conference, said Leo Love, a project manager for
software development in Phoenix, AZ, who attended the conference all three years.
She is the best organizer that I have run into in this arena. Her standards
are so high. She brings in not just big names, but good teachers, he said.
Love was awarded a 2001 Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the Arizona
Commission on the Arts. He credits his summer 2000 weeklong workshop with Laurie
Kutchins for giving him a creative boost and the courage to submit his work.
Love is so impressed with the conference he has become a major donor.
The conference, which takes place at the historic Sagebrush Inn in Taos, offers
four merit-based scholarships and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship for emerging writers.
Faculty this year included noted authors Jonis Agee, Bruce Bond, Pam Houston,
Patricia Clark Smith and Marly Swick.
The publishing panel, new this year, featured a seasoned agent from New York-based literary agency Witherspoon Associates and the assistant editor from publishing firm Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Pat Mora, author of family memoir House of Houses, taught family
stories. Moras student Judy Thigpen of Oakland, CA, had the makings of
one in Taos. Thigpen attended the conference with sister Amy of Boulder, CO,
and their father Robert Thigpen of Ruidoso, NM. My daughters and I thought
it was wonderful. We didnt want to leave, Thigpen said. We
thought it was much better than other vacations when you concentrate on leisure.
In Taos, we worked, but we enjoyed it. We read and critiqued each others
writing, a really great way to enjoy each other and even to get to know each
For more information, visit www.unm.edu/~taosconf.
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