SOMOS celebrates Poetry Month | Arts

One decade of poetry appreciation via Zoom features readings by Andrea Watson and Joan Ryan that illuminate generational traditions of Jewish families in Northern New Mexico

Tomorrow is April 1, the first day of Poetry Month for local literary society, SOMOS (Society of the Muse of the Southwest), which has several Zoom readings planned. This year Poetry Month is dedicated to Phyllis Hotch, a prolific local poet who died in 2021. Hotch authored four poetry collections and served as a board member and board president of SOMOS.

On Sunday (April 3) at 4 pm, five poets with new work from 3: A Taos Press, founded by Andrea Watson, will read from their newest collections. Joan Ryan, Andrea Watson, Dale Kushner, Emily Lutken, and Dom Zuccone.

Joan Ryan has lived in Taos since 2009 and has written the poetry collection, “Dark Ladies and Other Avatars (3: A Taos Press, 2017)” and she has co-authored the forthcoming poetry book “Blood Secrets” with Andrea Watson and she plans to read a few poems from that collection.

Tempo recently spoke with Ryan about the themes in “Blood Secrets” and how the poetry collaboration with Watson came about.

Ryan said that she and Watson co-wrote “Blood Secrets” together because they became interested in the hidden Jews of Northern New Mexico. She said the Spanish Inquisition drove Jewish families out of Spain to Mexico, where they were later followed and persecuted for their beliefs, and some were even burned at the stake.

Some survivors ended up settling in Northern New Mexico where they felt much safer but still thought it was wise to hide their customs and religious heritage. Ryan said some descendants started to find their roots when they received genetic testing after being diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancers at relatively young ages.

“I also became aware of reading that through just the discovery of this gene that a lot of people discovered their Jewish heritage,” Ryan said. “And it struck me as an incredibly ironic, horrible way to discover that you are one of the chosen people. Chosen for what?”

Research has shown that women with Jewish lineage have a higher likelihood of a cancer diagnosis from this genetic inheritance.

Ryan was diagnosed with breast cancer herself and her doctor recommended that she get tested for the BRCA gene mutations. Ryan said that she did not test positive for the gene but the story of generational trauma passed down via blood to women unaware of their heritage was one that elicited an emotional response within her, and when Watson came to her about writing this book of poetry, she was on board right away.

Both Watson and Ryan will read various poems featuring women’s experiences that weave together the customs and memories from history to today. Ryan said that local poet Anita Rodriguez also wrote a portion of the book about her own experiences finding her roots.

Watson is the founding publisher and editor of 3: A Taos Press, a multicultural and ethically-voiced local publishing house. Watson is the co-editor of the poetry anthology, “Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined” and “Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai” the proceeds of which were donated to The Malala Fund for Girls’ Education from FutureCycle Press. Andrea’s poetry has appeared in several reviews and anthologies and she has curated several Ekphrasis collaborations across the US


On Friday, April 1, Zoom poetry readings start at 5:30 pm with Jennifer Elise Foerster who authored two books: “Leaving Tulsa” (2013) and “Bright Raft in the Afterweather” (2018) both published by the University of Arizona Press . Foerster is of German, Dutch and Mvskoke descent, and is a member of the Mvskoke Creek Nation of Oklahoma. She received her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver, an MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts and is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).

Brittney Corrigan will also read on April 1. She is the author of four poetry collections: “Daughters,” “Breaking,” “Navigation,” and “40 Weeks.” Corrigan has another poetry collection to be published in 2023 by Jackleg Press, entitled “Solastalgia” which will cover climate change, extinction and the Anthropocene Age. Corrigan is reading selections from “Daughters” and “Solastalgia” on April 1.

JP Perrine is the third poet reading in the April 1 Zoom session. Perrine authored four award-winning poetry books: “Again,” “The Body Is No Machine,” “In the Human Zoo,” and “No Confession, No Mass.” Perrine plans to read poems written using the Oulipo technique from the current poetry manuscript, “Beautiful Outlaw,” which address grief, forgiveness, gun culture and gun violence, and anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.

On Saturday (April 2), the appreciation of poetry will continue at 5:30 pm on Zoom with readings from Nancy Takacs and Kate O’Neill. Takacs is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Helper City, Utah and is the originator of the Steamboat Mountain Reading Series in Helper. Takacs has a book publishing in early 2022 by Mayapple Press entitled “Dearest Water.”

Kate O’Neill has a forthcoming chapbook, “Emulsifying Fires,” based on Ansel Adams’ early photographs of New Mexico which will publish in 2022 by Dreaming Dog Books. One of these poems is being included in the “New Mexico Poetry Anthology, Vol. 1” edited by Levi Romero and Michelle Otero and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, 2022.

On Sunday (April 3), Zoom readings continue at 4 pm by poets Andrea Watson, Joan Ryan, Emily Lutken, Dom Zuccone and Dale Kushner. Watson and Ryan co-wrote “Blood Secrets” a forthcoming collection being published by 3: A Taos Press.

Dale M. Kushner is a poet and novelist who writes a popular monthly online column for Psychology Today entitled “Transcending the Past,” that is informed by her lifelong study of Jungian psychology.

ER Lutken will read poems from her new collection, “Manifold: Poetry of Mathematics (3: A Taos Press, 2021).” Lutken worked for many years as a family physician on the Navajo Nation, then taught math and science in rural Colorado.

DE Zuccone published a volume of poetry, “Vanishes,” through 3: A Taos Press. He is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts.


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