From Jemez Thunder, October 1, 2003
The authors’ symposia that have been offered to residents of the Jemez Valley by the Friends of the Library for the past three years are incredibly exciting. It is stimulating, mind-expanding, marvelous beyond words to listen to well-known authors discuss their work, their philosophy, and their ultimate goals.
Every year I come away thinking “How can something this exotic be offered – at no charge, even – in this small community? How do we persuade authors of the stature of John Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War) or Demetria Martinez (who got into trouble with the U.S. Government back in the ‘80s for her political views) and Rina Swentzell, well-known writer, potter and weaver from Santa Clara Pueblo, to take the time and make the effort to visit our small spot on the planet?”
We may not always agree with their views, and we may not understand or appreciate everything they write, but we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to lively dialogue and to interact through “question and answer” with noteworthy contemporary literary figures. Our very own N. Scott Momaday, who is a prize-winning novelist, poet, artist, literary critic and PBS commentator, is an excellent moderator. What a wonderful new auditorium the high school enjoys in which to display such talent also!
My awe at our good fortune expands to wonder why on Earth the high school teachers do not encourage their students to attend these august affairs with the logical inducement of extra credit. Indeed, how many teachers attend? (I spotted Rudolfo Anaya and his wife in the audience; but he, alas, doesn’t exactly count as a local educator).
The same lack of support from the school teachers, principals and committee members is true for the Jemez Valley Concert Association’s presentations. On Saturday evening Oct. 4, the Albuquerque Boy Choirs will be in concert at the Presbyterian Church. The cost is a minimal $5 for adults and $2.50 for children. What golden opportunities are offered to the public, and especially to our youth, to hear and watch a variety of excellent musicians of all sorts bring to our community something a little different from pop, rap, and rock and roll! There are at least four or five concerts every year, and so many people don’t bother to explore the possibilities, or encourage their youngsters to try something different and “educational.”
I write to urge everyone to at least give these cultural events a try just once. I can almost guarantee your first visit won’t be your last.