Poet Pat Mora to deliver New Mexico Writers dinner keynote address - Albuquerque Journal

Poet Pat Mora to deliver New Mexico Writers dinner keynote address

Pat Mora will give the keynote address at the New Mexico Writers dinner. (Courtesy of Jane Bernard Photography)

One great thing about New Mexico is that is offers artists a vast landscape to capture, and that opportunity stretches across a variety of mediums, including writing.

Many authors have used the Land of Enchantment as a mysterious, inspiring backdrop. Rudolfo Anaya, Willa Cather, Tony Hillerman, Paul Horgan, Dorothy B. Hughes and John Nichols are among other fantastic writers who have placed the state in their stories.

On April 6, the fifth annual New Mexico Writers dinner will once again celebrate the immense talent, established and aspiring, that reside in the state’s writing community.

In addition, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently issued a proclamation making April 6, 2023, “New Mexico Literary Day.”

The keynote address at the dinner will be delivered by acclaimed poet, author and literary advocate Pat Mora. The Santa Fe-based writer understands how enchanting the Southwest can be for artists.

“New Mexico writers can have a certain intensity about their writing,” she said. “Perhaps one is we have a lot of wonderful space, and sometimes I think, physical space can allow us to take more risks.”

Not all of Mora’s work has been crafted in New Mexico. She was born in El Paso and partially attributes unearthing her talent to her teachers from her youth.

“My eighth grade teacher would hand the class a poem on Monday, and Friday, you wrote it from memory, and they were not short,” she reminisced. “I think that, even though I’m sure I grumbled at the time, I think she gave us, and certainly me, a great gift because once you sort of fall in love with poetry, then eventually you’re usually going to say, well, I think I’m gonna try it.”

Mora’s writing and career has been recognized numerous times. She has received over 50 literary awards and honors, including two honorary doctorates from North Carolina State University and State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo.

Mora has the uncanny ability to write for different demographics, gearing work toward children, teenagers and adults alike, and there are similarities to the creative process for each.

“When I decide I’m going to explore writing something, whether I’m writing for children, or teens or adults, I’m going to start by scribbling a bit on a piece of paper,” she said. “I like to give myself room to explore … I’m always trying to find something new to try.”

This is also her approach to her keynote speech at the dinner as she ponders the possibilities.

“I would say maybe one theme I feel pretty sure that I’m going to address is sort of the pleasure of writing,” she shared.

New Mexico Writers aims to support a diverse group of writers in the state. The nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2016, provides grants, networking and career development opportunities.

The goal of the dinner is to raise proceeds that go toward public outreach and activities, helping address cultural, financial and professional barriers. Funds are also dedicated to the organization’s grantmaking programs, which support writers in a variety of literary fields.

During the event, the 2023 grant recipients will be honored. This year’s 15 grantees include Jason Asenap, Shawn Patrick Boyd, Victoriano Cárdenas, Jaima Chevalier, Jesse A. Colvin, Quintina Deschenie, Susan Melinda Dunlap, Chris Eboch, Cynthia Grady, Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, George R. Matthews, Sylvia Rains Dennis, Santana Shorty, Deborah Taffa and Sage Vogel.

The event, which is being held in the Lumpkins Ballroom at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, will include a reception, dinner, raffle, paddle call and Mora’s keynote address.

“Sometimes you’re sitting with writers, sometimes you’re sitting with readers,” Mora said about the New Mexico Writers dinner. “I’ve just found it a very pleasant and interesting event.”

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