Anne MacNaughton retired from University of New Mexico in 2012, yet her days of educating are far from over.
For the seventh installment of In the Valle: Prejudice and Reconciliation in Taos, MacNaughton adds her perspective to our conversation. Born in the South, a product of Texas, via the Houston Little Theater, and the University of Texas, where she received a B.A. in history and government, MacNaughton eventually relocated to Northern New Mexico. She earned her master's in English at UNM, then opened the Lama Mountain School, before moving to Taos.
"Actually, it didn't start with the Europeans. We're always prejudiced against the other guy, that's just human," said MacNaughton to start the conversation. The co-founder of the Taos Poetry Circus and the World Poetry Bout Association, baker and former Texas State Library archivist for historical manuscripts holds nothing back when talking with Tempo. "Systemically, in the government, and everything else, yeah! Since, Oñate, I'm gonna go all the way to Coronado," said MacNaughton.
Clearing her throat for a thorough schooling, MacNaughton delivers a powerful commentary on the whoas of being a female within the "longhair invasion" of Taos, echoing the tales held within Iris Keltz's "Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie"(2000).
The rustling winds of Taos in the chimes, heard in the background of the interview, offered their fanfare for the lessons and the insights MacNaughton offers our community, and go hand in hand with the turbulent world we exist in today. MacNaughton's history in Taos is no less seismic. MacNaughton has been providing guidance and contributing to the community since she first arrived in our valley. When Taos Poetry Circus, where she served as program director, folded its tents in 2003, MacNaughton helped found the Society of the Muse of the Southwest, and SOMOS remains an outlet for Taos' literature enthusiasts and writers.
Perhaps MacNaughton's most powerful impact on our community is in education. While serving as an Indian education tutor, MacNaughton experienced the kind of prejudice that the minority in Taos suffered from. It didn't stop "Coach," as she was called by her first high school poetry slam team, from continuing to teach poetry, and poetry's sister, the spoken word, to Taoseños.
It was during the late '90s when MacNaughton started the first ever high school poetry slam program. She founded the Poetry Education Project to teach poetry and performance. Her teams went on to win multiple state championships and in 2000 took third at the first International Teen Poetry Slam, hosted by the YouthSpeaks organization. That team comprised Sherman Cortez, Erin Badhand, Daniel Ingroff, Crista Sperry and Tempo's JuanIsidro Concha, who went on to be the first high school students to receive letterman status as competitive spoken word artists. The poetry program was eventually absorbed into the high school and is still offered as an extracurricular class conducted by Francis Hahn.
The conversation with MacNaughton, who was the wife and partner of the late, eternally great Peter Rabbit, echoes the wise old man's teachings he bestowed upon many young poets in Taos. Rabbit has graced the literary world with his posthumous "Cabeza de Baca: An Epic Poem," edited by MacNaughton herself. You can check out MacNaughton's own work in the most recent issue of the Santa Fe Literary Review.
Join Tempo on the Taos News YouTube channel to hear Taos' award-winning poet, author and visual artist this week on the next edition of In the Valle: Prejudice and Reconciliation in Taos.
• Support In the Valle: Prejudice and reconciliation series
• Part 1: Interview with John Nichols
• Part 2: Interview with Larry Torres
• Part 3: Two Taos Natives have one crazy conversation in the Couse House
• Part 4: Anita Rodriguez talks systemic racism in Taos
• Part 5: Writer Bill Whaley goes full disclosure
• Part 6: Interview with Nikesha Breeze
• Part 7: Anne MacNaughton gives a thorough schooling
• Part 8: Iris Keltz expounds on our multicultural bonds
• Part 9: David Fernandez de Taos speaks of blending faith ways