This weekend will boast Silver City’s first literary festival, the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, which will run this Friday through Sunday, September 27th through 29th.  The Festival will celebrate over 50 writers in more than 30 sessions who live and work in the Southwest, and is open to everyone free of charge.  The Festival officially begins at 2 pm on Friday, and will end early Sunday afternoon.

Jeannie Miller, public information chair reports that the theme of the festival is “Textures y Sabores.”  “Textures,” she explains, “was suggested by Joe Wade, who is the co-owner of JW Art Gallery and a member of the Festival organizing committee.”  “Y Sabores” in Spanis means “and tastes” or “and flavors.”  According to Festival coordinator Peter Garcia, “together these words describe the wonderful atmosphere created when more than 50 writers, agents and publishers gather to participate in over 35 events.”

The Southwest Festival of the Written Word will highlight writers who live and write in the Southwest, including many local presenters from the Silver City area and New Mexico, as well as visitors for Arizona, Texas and Colorado.  The keynote speakers are Ana Castillo and Denise Chavez who, as writers, have “remained true to their roots and the rich idioms in the Mexican American communities.”  Other speakers will include Orlando White, a Navajo Poet, Layli Long Soldier, a Lakota poet, Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, WNMU scholar-in-residence, and JJ Wilson, WNMU writer-in-residence.

The Kickoff for the Southwest Festival of the Written Word will be held tonight, Thursday, September 26th from 6 to 9 pm at the JW Art Gallery, 99 Cortez Avenue in Hurley.  This evening’s events will include a performance by Randy Carr from his one-man play “Tuck” about a Deputy from the wild days of Silver City and Grant County’s frontier past. Book signings will be available by local authors Terry Humble, author of “Copper Mining ins Santa Rita, New Mexico 1801-1838”, Anthony Romero, author of “The Saloons of Santa Clara”, and Christopher Saxman, author of “The Drive to Cheyenne and Burnout”.   “Poems2”, a hand sewn collection of works by local poets and artists created by Joseph Wade expecially for the Festival will also be available for sale.

Keynote Speaker Ana Castillo

Keynote Speaker Ana Castillo

Keynote speaker Ana Castillo is an award winning poet, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, and translator.  She will present a Memoir Writing Workshop  on Saturday, September 28th.  Registration for this workshop has closed.  Ana Castillo describes her workshop as “a time for talking, laughing, crying, venting, and writing from the heart and mind… Participans will learn to get rid of all the sentimentality and leave on the page what is important to the reader to know about their memoirs.”  Castillo will also be the Festival’s opening speaker on Friday from 5 to 6:30.

Other speakers at the Festival will include travel writers Richard Mahler, author of ecological detective tale “The Jaguar’s Shadow”, Esther Melvin, lifelong wanderer and author of “Walking Going, a Journey to the Holy Mountains of Nepal”, and Grant County Native Elan Head, special projects editor for the helicopter magazine “Vertical.”  Also to speak will be authors of southwestern history and non-fiction Mark Lee Gardner, author of “Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape”, and M.H. Dutch Salmon is an award winning author and founder of High Lonesome Books Publishing in Silver City.  Elan Head will join freelance writers Ron Hamm and Jim Kelly to present  a freelance workshop, “Winging it or Swinging it: How to Survive as a Freelancer.”

Ann Lane Hedlund, author of “Gloria F. Ross and Modern Tapestry”, and Michael P. Berman, “Gila: Radical Visions, the Enduring Silence” will present Books as Art in Hedlund’s talk about “The truth and beyond: Creative non-fiction” and Berman discusses “Book art, illustration, and photography.”  Local Silver City author and professor of humanities at WNMU Sharman Apt Russell will relate on advise from Joseph Campbell to “follow my bliss” on Saturday, September 28th.  More information on the presenters and sessions for the Southwest Festival of the Written Word are available on the website at