Taos Summer Writers Conference Home

2011 Scholarship recipients:

D.H. Lawrence Fellow: Darlin' Neal, Orlando FL
Hispanic Writer Award: Richard Vargas, Albuquerque, NM
Native Writer Award: Khara Ellasante, Tuscon, AZ and Monty Little, Santa Fe, NM
Taos Resident Award: Linda Michel-Cassidy, Arroyo Seco, NM
Leo Love Merit Scholarship in Poetry: Cedar Brant, Missoula, MT
Leo Love Merit Scholarship in Prose: Emma Rainey, Fairfield, IA

D.H. Lawrence Fellowship

Darlin' Neal
Darlin' Neal

Darlin' Neal is currently an assistant professor in the MFA program at The University of Central Florida and Fiction Editor of the Florida Review; however, she spent her childhood traveling around New Mexico, where she attended 13 different grade schools. She is the author of the short story collections, Rattlesnakes and The Moon (Press 53, March 2010) and the forthcoming, Elegant Punk (Press 53, 2012). Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Puerto del Sol, Smokelong Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The Rio Grande Review, The Best of The Web Anthology and many other magazines. Her fiction and nonfiction have been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize. In her post at The University of Central Florida, she also serves as faculty advisor to UCF's undergraduate literary arts magazine, The Cypress Dome, and for The Writers in The Sun Reading Series which brings in writers of national caliber each semester.

Hispanic Writer Award

Richard Vargas
Richard Vargas

Richard Vargas graduated from the UNM Creative Writing program and earned his MFA with distinction, in 2010. He has two books of poetry published: McLife, Main Street Rag Press, 2005, and American Jesus, Tia Chucha Press, 2007. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor's radio show, Writer's Almanac. His poem, "baby brother's blues" earned him the Editor's Choice Award from the anthology, New Poets of the American West, Many Voices Press. He received a National Latino Writer's Conference Community Scholarship in May 2011. He currently edits and publishes a national small press poetry magazine, The Más Tequila Review, and is the events coordinator for an independent bookstore in Albuquerque. He also sits on the board of the non-profit Local Poets Guild. He has organized poetry readings and booksignings for Lisel Meller, Diane Wakoski, Luis J. Rodriguez, Lucien Stryk, Demetria Martinez, Mitsuye Yamada, Carlos Cortez, Marc K. Smith, and many more.

 

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Native Writer Award

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Khara Ellasante

Khara Ellasante is a Two-Spirit Choctaw/African American poet, artist, and activist. In her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Khara studied Sociology and Creative Writing at the University of Memphis. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where she is a grad student in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. Her academic work focuses on the historic intersections and acculturative influences of American Indian, African American, and West African literature and music as well as Two-Spirit and Queer experiences portrayed in literature. Khara’s current creative work centers around her families’ histories and the expression and assertion of variegated gender and ethnic identities in a “check-box” culture. She is a staunch advocate for LGBTQ2 youth and an aficionado of the Blues.

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Monty Little

Monty Little is a Diné (Navajo) artist from Tuba City, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt) clan, born for Tl'izilani (Manygoats) clan. He currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is an undergraduate at the Institute of American Indian Arts, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Studio Arts. He is a recipient of the 2011 Truman Capote Scholarship. The juxtaposition of harsh realities on the Navajo reservation, the beauty of openness and the content of home heavily influence Monty's poems.

Monty recently was Honorably Discharged from the United States Marine Corps after serving four years with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, California. While in the Marine Corps, Monty deployed to Okinawa in 2005, and to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, in 2007. He is currently spending his summer listening to punk rock, writing, painting, and spending time with family.

Taos Resident Award

Linda Michel-Cassidy
Linda Michel-Cassidy

I live in the tiny town of Arroyo Seco, between Taos and the Ski Valley and am a visual artist, writer and teacher. I have worked as a creative writing mentor for 6th-graders and for SOMOS' youth mentoring program. For the past four years I have taught in the Taos school district as part of Artists in the Schools, where I have facilitated mosaic mural projects with something like 320 awesome kindergarteners. Before I moved to Taos 7 years ago, I taught Metalsmithing and Art Law and Business in college as well as community art programs. My essays have appeared in The Horsefly, Howl and SOMOS publications. I am also included in the recently released book, Voices of New Mexico, published by the New Mexico Book Coop in celebration of the State's centennial. I hold both an MFA in Visual Arts and a BFA in Metalsmithing from the California College of the Arts, a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Delaware and a J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

 

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Leo Love Merit Scholarship in Poetry

Cedar Brant
Cedar Brant

Cedar Brant's first book of poems, Like Any Other Dream Will Do was published in 2010 by FootHills Publishing. Her work has appeared in the Whitefish Review and the anthology Poems Across the Big Sky. She is co-founder of the poetry troupe Bentgrass, who tour Montana performing poetry and hosting writing workshops. In 2008 they received a grant from Humanities Montana to travel to the small ranching towns of eastern Montana. They have published two anthologies of poetry Windfall Season (2007) and Night Corn (2010). For the past ten years, she has worked as a botanist and field biologist across the west. She spends her summers living in a trailer in various grasslands, counting and keying out plants, and honing her four-wheeling skills. She was born in a barn in northwest Montana, and now lives in Missoula.

 

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Leo Love Merit Scholarship in Prose

Emma Rainey
Emma Rainey

Emma Rainey earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program in 2009. Currently she teaches writing, yoga, and choreographs. Past undertakings include writing and editing for the Teaching Company, serving as artistic director for several dance companies, working with homeless teens, and volunteering as faculty advisor for ONE. Her essays have appeared in Southeast Review, Drunken Boat, Two Hawks Quarterly, Iowa Review, and in an anthology published by NCTE titled: Reinventing Identities in Second Language Writing. Since organizing the first free writing workshop for veterans in Iowa City, Ms. Rainey has conducted several workshops for military children with parents serving overseas. She has recently incorporated: Writing My Way Back Home—A Writers' Workshop for Veterans, and is applying for nonprofit status to continue helping U.S. military personnel finding their way back home through writing.