books, environment, Q&A, Taos

Questioning Minds Want to Know

I was charmed when I passed the SOMOS office in Taos yesterday to see a poster on the window promoting my July 8 reading. I am going to read from Peace, Love, and You Know What, answer questions posed by my friend, Teresa, and hopefully sell some books.

I told Teresa I don’t want to know the questions ahead of time. That would take the fun — and a little bit of the fright — out of it.

This is a big switch for me. I’m the one who usually asks the questions, and I will be doing it again Wednesday, June 22, with Priscilla Solis Ybarra.


Estella and Aldo Leopold

Priscilla is the first of this year’s Aldo and Estella Leopold Foundation’s “Mi Casita” writers in residence. She is staying for a month at the cabin where Aldo Leopold, one of the great voices for the environment, and his wife, Estella Luna Otero Bergere Leopold, stayed when he worked for the Carson National Forest. The home, their first, is located in Tres Piedras outside Taos.

Interestingly Priscilla’s research focuses on Estella and her impact on the writings of her husband, notably A Sand County Almanac. Her goal is to write a biographical portrait.

The title of her talk is “The Leopolds in the Light of the Lunas and Oteros: Latino/a Legacies in American Environmentalism.”

Priscilla is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of writing the goodlifeNorth Texas, specializing in Chicana/o literature and theory as well as environmental literature and ecocriticism. She recently released a book, Writing the Goodlife: Mexican American Literature and the Environment.

As a member of the committee that selected this year’s writers in residence, Priscilla’s proposal was an easy choice. Certainly I have to believe Estella was more than just “the missus” and that she was a major influence on her husband’s work. Their five children chose careers as environmental scientists and activists.

To prepare for the Q&A, I am reading Priscilla’s book — I am about three-quarters of the way through. I have other material.

I will come up with my list, and I am certain we will open it up to questions from the audience.

From my years as a journalist, I know better than to ask yes or no questions because you will get yes or no answers. There are times when that may be necessary when you want to put somebody on the spot, but I believe open-ended questions are the way to go. My aim is to advance the conversation.

I confess I love doing these Q&A’s. During the past few years, I have done them at various venues with such authors as Valerie Plame (twice), Anne Hillerman, and the former fugitive Katharine Anne Powers. I also interviewed last year’s Mi Casita fellows.

I met Priscilla at a musical event this week. I assured her it would be a fun experience. From what I’ve learned so far, I believe those who come to the program will enjoy listening to what she has to stay.

Here is the info: Wednesday, June 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Harwood Museum of Art. And it’s free.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A little levity, at least for me, at the Taos Farmers Market. No, I am not the Joan who makes choke cherry jelly. I am going to have to buy a jar one day.

AND ABOUT PEACE, LOVE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT: As I wrote in my last post, I am over the moon, as they say, with the paperback release of my novel a few days ago. Here’s the link if you are interested Peace Love and You Know What on Amazon