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Two New Mexico Writers Awarded Grants

Luci Tapahonso will speak at the 2019 Writers’ Dinner

Thursday, March 28 at 5:30 pm La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe

Acclaimed poet Luci Tapahonso delivers the keynote address at the 3rd Annual New Mexico Writers Dinner on March 28, in Santa Fe, where two New Mexico writers will be introduced as the first recipients of grants created to nurture aspiring writers.

Tapahonso, of Santa Fe, served as the inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation, 2013-2015. She is the author of three children’s books and six books of poetry. In 2018, she was selected for a one-week Artist Residency at Hedgebrook Writers Retreat, Whidbey Island, Washington, and received a Native Arts and Culture Foundation $20,000 Fellowship. Tapahonso recently served as a judge for Poetry Out Loud, New Mexico’s high school poetry competition, and was selected as “2016 Best of the City-Our City and State’s Prolific Authors,” by Albuquerque The Magazine.

A native of Shiprock, New Mexico, Tapahonso has shared her poetry at various institutions worldwide, including Harvard University, Gallup (NM) Central High School, Kenyon College (Ohio), the Tbilisi International Literature Festival in the Republic of Georgia, and “Creativity Week” at the University of New Zealand at Auckland and Wellington. She wrote the script for the exhibition, Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art at the American Heritage Gallery at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

Tapahonso earned an MA in English from the University of New Mexico, and played a key role in establishing the Indigenous Studies Graduate Studies Program at the University of Kansas. She is Professor Emerita of English Languages and Literature at the University of New Mexico.

This year’s dinner will introduce two New Mexico writers, poet Sylvia Rains Dennis, El Prado, and children’s book author Laurie Goodluck, Albuquerque—the first to be awarded grants by the New Mexico Writers organization, launched in 2017. (See notes below.)

Proceeds from the annual dinner fund the grants for aspiring New Mexico writers. Grants may be used to support their work, including tuition for writing programs, mentorship, travel, and research.

The annual New Mexico Writers dinner brings together a diversity of writers, poets, playwrights, and journalists from around the state, along with literary arts supporters, including librarians, booksellers, editors, and publishers. It is an occasion to celebrate the writing craft and literary arts that contribute to the richness of New Mexico arts, and to raise money to aid aspiring writers in reaching their goals.

This year’s grant recipients:

Laurel Goodluck of Albuquerque, who is publishing her first children’s picture book. She is “…determined to continue to improve (her) skill as a writer and loos forward to being able to produce art where all children can see themselves in books.

Sylvia Rains Dennis of El Prado, a poet, native ecologist, and educator who will use her grant to restore links to natural surroundings as well as to her extended New Mexico community. Her credo: “The rivers, mountains, meadows, shrub-steppe, and sustainable farmlands are inseparable to who we are.”

Note: a silent auction precedes the writers’ dinner. Over 20 prominent writers, poets, and agents will offer “coffee and conversation” sessions to the highest bidders. All money earned from the auction goes toward the 2020 New Mexico Writers grants program.


To purchase tickets or for more details, visit nmwriters.org.


Join Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption, hiking, writing and life in the Southwest. Her novel Clara and the Hand of Ganesha, a sequel to All the Wrong Places, is a scheduled for publication in 2021.