News From Taos, New Mexico

Return to Sacred Places - Taos

Taos, New Mexico: The Writer’s New Haven
This July and August, hundreds of writers from all over the US will flock to Taos to participate in dozen of seminars, workshops and retreats

This summer the hamlet of Taos, NM, at a cool 7,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, will play host to hundreds of writers participating in dozens of seminars, workshops and retreats. Long established as a colony for the visual arts, Taos is gaining a reputation as a Mecca for those who devote themselves to the written word.

In addition to the two major university programs that have set up shop here–the University of New Mexico and SMU–a half a dozen other organizations are offering curricula that covers the spectrum from poetry and memoir to screenwriting and non-fiction.

Ram Dass’ “Be Here Now” celebrates

its 40th Anniversary

Ram DassOne of the most Taos-centric offerings is a five-day, experiential workshop (July 19-23) exploring the writings and spiritual movement inspired by the American author and teacher, Ram Dass (a.k.a.Richard Alpert) in his landmark book, “Be Here Now” which marks the 40th anniversary of its publishing.

In documenting his own journey from elite Harvard professor to pioneer in the alternative consciousness movement and disciple of one of the great Indian saints of the twentieth century, Ram Dass introduced into American culture a unique hybrid of Eastern philosophy and Western thought.

“The spiritually-charged atmosphere around Taos has always been a powerful inspiration to Ram Dass,” says Sean Murphy, author and Sage Institute co-producer of the event. “He composed the original manuscript of “Be Here Now” in a school bus at the Lama Foundation not far from here, and on our last day we will make a pilgrimage to that sacred spot.”

Be Here NowThe “Be Here Now” seminar will study not only Ram Dass’ famous book, but practice meditation, mindfulness, chanting and kirtan (sacred devo- tional chants from the Hindu tradition performed to music), as well as interact with long-time Ram Dass devotees and friends who will present their experiences and practices to the class.

Long known as a colony for the visual arts, Taos’ reputation grows for the written word
The 12th annual Taos Summer Writers’ Conference (July 11-18) attracts writers from across the country and around the world. In an article in USA Today, fiction writer and Conference faculty member Pam Houston described the event this way: “This conference feels like a family reunion, as everyone catches the relaxed spirit of the desert that has been inspiring artists in northern New Mexico for years.”

The Conference features twenty-three different weekend and weeklong workshops as well as master classes on the art and craft of writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Dwaye Wilcox-A Little Off the TopFounding Director, Sharon Oard Warner describes the Conference as inclusive rather than exclusive. “Everyone is welcome,” she says. “The Conference is all about creating a writing community.” Workshops are designated as beginning, intermediate or advanced, and the website includes a full description of each offering.

In addition to instruction in writing, the Conference provides complementary yoga classes and daily group excursions to Taos landmarks. Visiting agents and editors are available for scheduled consultations. The 2010 keynote reading by Cristina Garcia and all evening faculty readings are free and open to the public.

Photo Credit: Gak Stonn

For further information:

Taos-Inspired Writers

D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence wrote “The Plumed Serpent” in Taos in 1924.

Hoping to join the likes of Willa Cather, D.H. Lawrence,  Carl Jung, Vlamir Nabakov, Tennessee Williams, John Nichols and the many, many others who have traipsed through and been inspired by this magical spot on the map,

Willa Cather
Willa Cather visited Taos in 1916 prior to writing “Death Comes for the Archbishop.”

today’s crop of writers will no doubt find Taos’ majestic beauty and inspirational appeal as powerful as ever.

Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams visited in 1941 while writing his play, “I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix”.

Continuing Education

For the Dallas-based SMU, which for the last 30 years has maintained a branch campus in Taos, this will be its first Summer Writing Series (July 14-18), offering a half a dozen classes as part of its Continuing and Professional Education Creative Writing Program.

“Because of Taos’ reputation as a place where creative energies flow, I think the students will be predisposed to openness, embracing new ideas, and committing themselves to a deeper level of creative expression,” says Suzanne Frank Creative SMU Writing Program Director. “For the right student it will be a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime experience with colleagues and instructors being creative in the enchanting New Mexico air!”

This summer, Taos is welcoming visitors from all over the world to be part of its “Return to Sacred Places,” a traveler’s education destination
Dwaye Wilcox-A Little Off the Top

Taos‘ glorious summer of writing will also be peppered with smaller if no less creative and challenging offerings. Writing guru Natalie Goldberg, author of the best-selling “Writing Down the Bones,” will teach two workshops at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, “Doodling Hearts: Using Love and Relationships for the Purpose of Memoir, Fiction and Essays,” (July 19 – 24) and “The True Secret of Writing: Sit, Walk, Write,” (August 9 – 14), a retreat that is conducted in silence.

And finally, the Taos-based Society of the Muse of the Southwest, SOMOS, will offer a full slate of classes throughout the summer (July 7 – August 27), and Monique Parker, who pairs writing with yoga, will present “Applying Yoga Principals to the Craft of Writing.”

Photo Credit: Paula Valentine

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