Each January, as Santa Fe et environs settle back into their quiet winter ways following the bustle of holidays, markets, and festivals, the Low Residency MFA program in Creative Writing gathers at IAIA for a week of workshops and unforgettable public readings. This is the only time of the year when a Santa Fean can hear incredible writers from all over the U.S. share their work every night for a week. The IAIA Winter Readers Gathering begins Saturday, January 6 and continues nightly through Saturday, January 13. Three readers, one fiction, one nonfiction, and one poetry, will share their work each evening starting at 6 pm, introduced by current IAIA MFA students. Below are the writers I am most excited to hear read this month.
Sunday January 7
Marie-Helene Bertino, fiction
I first came across Marie-Helene Bertino’s work as a reader at American Short Fiction, which published her story “Carry Me Home, Sisters of St. Joseph,” in which a young woman goes to work and live at a convent of rambunctious, tomato-growing nuns in the wake of a breakup. The story opens, “I am quitting a boy like people quit smoking. I am not quitting smoking.” Bertino carries her signature sense of humor and playful engagement with dark emotions through her collection Safe as Houses (2012) and her novel 2am at the Cat’s Pajamas (2014). Everything I read of hers is a delight.
Wednesday, January 10
Derek Palacio, fiction
In his debut novella How to Shake the Other Man (2013), Cuban American fiction writer Derek Palacio tackles masculinity, violence, and desire in the boxing ring. Palacio’s novel The Mortifications (2016) is the story of a family’s fragmented immigration and assimilation as they confront their Cuban roots and all they’ve left behind.
Joan Naviyuk Kane (Iñupiaq), poetry
Joan Naviyuk Kane’s English and Inupiaq poems in Hyperboreal (2013) stayed with me for a long time. Kane seeks to reconcile a restless contemporary consciousness with the author’s lost family home on the Arctic King Island. The poems of Hyperboreal and her latest collection Milk Black Carbon (2017) wrestle with belonging, attempting to pinpoint what parts of a landscape are shared.
Friday, January 12
Santee Frazier (Cherokee), poetry
Santee Frazier’s reading at last year’s Winter Readers gathering was a stunner. His poems in Dark Thirty (2009) use the smallest details and images of everyday life to render his memories of a childhood cut through with poverty and his mother’s alcoholism.
Saturday, January 13
Justin Torres, fiction
We the Animals (2011), a spare, gut-punch of a novel about three mixed race brothers growing up in rural New York, won a slew of awards and has been published in many languages. A film version directed by Jeremiah Zagar will debut in 2018 and is sure to be fantastic. Torres’ writing condenses an adolescent’s perspective on love, rage, sex, and loneliness into precise and biting, and somehow still lyrical prose.