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NM authors discuss the importance of UNM Press as a nurturer of regional literature

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For New Mexico author-folklorist-educator Nasario García, local publishers should be in tune with not only local writers but the whole community.

Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl

“I presume, and I think in most cases it is true, that publishers know their community, their interests, their authors and what motivates the authors,” said García, a Santa Fe resident.

UNM Press director Stephen Hull

UNM Press director Stephen Hull

García’s expectations are shared by several other authors who will join a panel discussion today with UNM Press Director Stephen Hull on the subject of the importance of local publishing. It is one three panel discussions celebrating UNM Press’ 90th anniversary.

Nasario García

Another panelist, Taos memoirist and painter Anita Rodriguez, said, “Only a local publisher with roots in this part of the country can do justice to the quality of the work coming out of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.”

However, she said that if the director of a local press is from outside New Mexico, “I would begin to educate myself by seriously consulting with leaders of the community; otherwise, it would just be a continuation of (Anglo) colonization.”

Panelists Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl, co-authors of several books, compared their experiences of having their books published by a New York-based commercial house and UNM Press.

“It’s a great fit for our books to be with UNM Press, because they celebrate life in rural New Mexico – the people, the land and the food,” Boggio said.

“At UNM Press, you meet face to face with the entire publishing team. Their philosophy is that building a readership is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Pearl said that at UNM Press she and Boggio have had input on the artist for the images on their books’ covers.

“And we believe the Press should be celebrated and supported by the state because it promotes our unique environment, our cultures, our history,” she said.

Albuquerque poet Levi Romero, another panelist, cited West End Press, a local Albuquerque press, as an excellent example of a local press that benefits “writers, readers, listeners and audiences.”

Romero, a UNM assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, referred to the Albuquerque-based publishing house as “a family of authors. That all happened because of (the late) John Crawford’s commitment to serve the local community. … Without him, there is a deep void.”

Hull, who has headed UNM Press for one year, brought up the press’ myriad perspectives. “We provide an outlet of voices for all kinds of people in the city, the state and region who are writing about all kinds of things that don’t get on the national radar,” he said.

Underneath that radar scan are writers who are anthropologists, archaeologists and historians.

“Aside from scholarship, we publish books of regional and national resonance,” Hull said. “If we don’t, who would?”

UNM Press says it is the largest publisher in New Mexico, both in terms of new books published annually and total books in print.

Hull said the press is on more solid footing going forward since a mandated cutback reduced its operating size.



UNM Press is presenting three panel discussions to celebrate its 90th anniversary:

• 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW.

• 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo St., Santa Fe. With Hull are authors Jack Loeffler and Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez discussing the press’ manuscript submission and editorial review processes and the future of book publishing.

• 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, a “Lobo Living Room” event at the Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain NW, will include panelists Hull with authors Anne Hillerman, N. Scott Momaday, Baker Morrow, V.B. Price, Jim Kristofic and Anna M. Nogar. This discussion, preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception, is about the legacy, cultures, history and stories the press has published. Seating is limited. Click here to register.