Books

SOMOS to celebrate prose writers from near and far

Event brings writers together for a month of inspiration, community and sharing their prodigious gifts

By Sheila Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/30/19

To some, the month of November is all about writing, and the Thanksgiving holiday is a well-timed couple of days off to finish up their novel before the end of the month.

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Books

SOMOS to celebrate prose writers from near and far

Event brings writers together for a month of inspiration, community and sharing their prodigious gifts

Posted

To some, the month of November is all about writing, and the Thanksgiving holiday is a well-timed couple of days off to finish up their novel before the end of the month.

That's right, to finish their novel. November is National Novel Writing Month, more affectionately known as NaNoWriMo, an international explosion of creativity that has hundreds of thousands of writers committing to finally putting to paper the story they have to tell.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 writers committing to completing a draft of a novel, start to finish, in no fewer than 50,000 words, during the 30 days of November. Just in case you're wondering, that's about 1,667 words per day, or about 1.5-3 hours of writing time for most writers.

In 2017, there were 306,230 writers officially registered for the challenge, and surely many more secretly participating. There are over 900 volunteers coordinating communal writing sessions worldwide, and some of those sessions are right here in Taos at SOMOS Salon and Bookstore.

The drop-in writing groups for Prose Month at SOMOS coincide with NaNoWriMo. These are silent work sessions where people work independently together on their creative writing projects. You are welcome regardless of whether you are participating in NaNoWriMo.

The drop-in sessions will be on three Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Nov. 6, 13 and 20) and four Sundays noon until 2 p.m. (Nov. 3, 10, 17 and 24) -- each week of November except the holiday week.

The drop-in sessions are just some of the Prose Month festivities.

Sister event to poetry month

There will be nine nights of readings from prose writers of all stripes, both local and regional, and four workshops, one each in four different genres of prose writing.

The SOMOS Prose Month is the sister event to poetry month (held in April), and this year's Prose Month is curated by Johanna DeBiase, who said, "This year's celebration of prose is particularly exciting as authors from Denver to Albuquerque will be sharing the spotlight with local authors." In total, over 30 writers will be sharing their work during the Thursday, Friday and Sunday night readings. "There's something for every bibliophile and lit nerd to love," DiBiase said.

Opening weekend

The Prose Month will open with a reading by three writers already beloved in Taos: Mirabai Starr, Rabbi Judith HaLevy, and Debora Seidman.

For those who don't yet know them, their bios give a glimpse into the offerings of the Saturday (Nov. 2), 7 p.m. reading.

Mirabai Starr writes creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature, according to press materials. She taught philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches internationally on contemplative practice and interspiritual dialogue. A bereavement counselor, Starr helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. She is the award-winning author, most recently, of "Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics."

Rabbi Judith HaLevy came to Taos in 1976 via New Jersey, Tel Aviv and Mexico City. She worked in Taos at Da Nahazli school and then Taos High School, where she taught English and drama until 1982. She was the director of the Taos Art Association (now Taos Center for the Arts) until 1990. As an integral part of the Taos Jewish community, she was guided by her studies to pursue a career as rabbi. In 1992, she left New Mexico for California and served as a rabbi in Malibu for over 20 years. In 2017, she retired to Santa Fe and is a part-time rabbi in Taos.

Debora Seidman holds a master's degree in fine arts from Goddard College in playwriting. Her award-winning plays have been produced in New York City, Brooklyn, Northampton and Amherst, Massachussets, Taos and Santa Fe. She has also won awards for her poetry and fiction, which have been published by a variety of journals. Excerpts from her memoir, "Lost and Found in My Mother's Kitchen" have been published in Elephant Journal. She has twice been awarded a writing fellowship at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She's a writing coach and mentor and leads Soul Writing Journeys for students around the world via teleconference.

November's highlighted writers

Throughout the month, Taoseños can look forward to readings from (in chronological order) Brian Allan Skinner, Iver Arnegard, Christine Autumn, Krystal Crestecos, Lauren Bjorkman, Ned Dougherty, Erik Forrest Jackson, Kim Merrill, Jim Levy, Phaedra Greenwood, Patricia Pollard, Marlayna Glynn, John Biscello, Joe De Patta, Rose Gordon, Eileen Wiard, Magdalene Smith, Allegra Huston, Henry Shukman, David Perez and Rick Romancito.

"I am particularly excited about Erika Wurth and Dr. Nasario Garcia because they are well-established authors, bringing unique areas of expertise to the event," curator DeBiase commented. Wurth is a novelist and poet coming from Denver to read Nov. 23, and Garcia is a renowned New Mexican folklorist based in Santa Fe and reading Nov. 17.

All events take place at SOMOS 108B Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. Readings are $8, and $5 for members, while each workshop is priced individually. For more information on all the events or to buy tickets or register for classes email somos@somostaos.org, call (575) 758-0081 and visit the website at somostaos.org.

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