Last week of SOMOS Prose Month offers great writers from Taos and afar

By Sheila Miller
Posted 11/20/19

SOMOS Prose Month curator Johanna DeBiase has organized a densely packed month of high-quality readings, and she has saved some of the best for last.Many of this week's readings …

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Last week of SOMOS Prose Month offers great writers from Taos and afar


Correction appended.

SOMOS Prose Month curator Johanna DeBiase has organized a densely packed month of high-quality readings, and she has saved some of the best for last.

Many of this week's readings feature writers whose work includes memoir and those interested in transmuting their own history into story. They can all be seen at the SOMOS Salon, 108 Civic Plaza Drive.

Spiritual memoirs are the theme for a reading by three writers today (Nov. 21) starting at 5 p.m. They are Magdalene Smith, Rose Gordon and Eileen Wiard. This same lineup was on the schedule last year, but thanks to a "huge snowstorm" the event had to be cancelled, DeBiase said. "I'm happy to bring them back. I think their works will be a great complement to each another."

Smith is the author of four books. She has collected numerous accolades, including scholarships, grants and awards. She is also a former curator for the writers series at SOMOS.

Gordon earned a degree in hospice and grief counseling from the Kübler Ross School of Death and Dying in El Rito, and brings her decades of experience to Mountain Home Health Hospice as a spiritual care provider and trainer of hospice volunteers. She has published a short book, "The Gatekeeper," on the life of a Tibetan Bon Lama and co-produced and did writing research for the award-winning film "Bon: Mustang to Menri," along with Andrea Heckman of Taos.

Wiard first came to Taos as a Wurlitzer Foundation fellow in 2002, and the spiritual director, writer and singer-songwriter now makes her home here. She has written a middle-grades novel, "Inside Outsiders," and published a CD of her songs titled "Yesterday's Rain."

Then, on Friday (Nov. 22), longtime friends Allegra Huston of Taos and Henry Shukman of Santa Fe will read together beginning at 7 p.m. Shukman was raised in England and has written several award-winning books of poetry and fiction. The associate master of Sanbo Zen is the guiding teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center and co-director of the Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute. His essays have appeared in many publications and his latest book, "One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road to the Heart," was released last month.

Huston is the author of two books, "Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found" and the novel "Say My Name." Her production of her screenplay, "Good Luck, Mr. Gorski," won the Grand Remi at the Houston Worldfest and she has also written for many publications.

SOMOS director Jan Smith will present the final workshop of Prose Month, "Jump Start Your Memoir." It will be given Saturday (Nov. 23) from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Smith's short story, "Breasts," won an award from Southwest Writers in 2012 and an excerpt from her memoir, "Blink Like Crazy," won a first-place award from Southwest Writers in 2014. Her workshop will teach the fundamentals of crafting a compelling narrative and is open to all levels of writers.

Also on Saturday, but at 7 p.m., you'll have a chance to hear readings by Apache Chickasaw Cherokee professor and writer Erika T. Wurth and local writer Jean-Marie Saporito.

Wurth has two previously published novels, "Crazy Horse's Girlfriend" and "You Who Enter Here" (see a review of it in the Pages column on page 41), two collections of poetry and a collection of short stories titled, "Buckskin Cocaine." Her work has been published in numerous journals and has been awarded several prizes. "Lucky for us Erika was available and happy to travel all the way to Taos to read for us," DeBiase said.

Saporito's terse memoir and narrative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and awarded an Association of Writers and Writing Program Award for emerging writers and the University of New Mexico Taos Resident Award.

Sunday (Nov. 24) at 5 p.m. is the final event of SOMOS Prose Month. Local author David Pérez and Tempo editor Rick Romancito will read original work. Pérez has published two coming-of-age memoirs, "Wow!" and "Wow! 2." He also directs Verdad Creative.

Romancito is a Native American writer, artist, filmmaker and former actor. His wide-ranging artistic career has included acting alongside John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn in "Rooster Cogburn and The Lady" and receiving a New Mexico Governor's Cup Short Screenplay Award for an adaptation of his short story, "Benito's Gift." He is the editor of Tempo, the arts and entertainment magazine of the Taos News, and over the past three decades has won numerous awards for his writing and photojournalism.

Curator DeBiase was careful to save a special reading to close this celebration of prose. "We are excited to end the entire month with two well-loved local writers. A reading that is sure to be as compelling as it is fun," DeBiase said of Sunday evening's reading.

In addition, anyone who would like two hours of scheduled, uninterrupted writing is invited to attend the weekly write-ins to take place at SOMOS on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 2 p.m.

All events take place at SOMOS. Admission for readings is $8; $5 for SOMOS members. For more information, contact SOMOS at (575) 758-0081 or Also, visit

Correction: The original version of this article had an incorrect profession for Erika T. Wurth.


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