Literary arts

Writers series focuses on youth

SOMOS event highlights Nasario García, Robert Wilder and Estelle Laure


Wednesday (Feb. 1), SOMOS continues its 2017 Winter Writers Series with a reading featuring works for or about youth with authors Nasario Garcia, Robert Wilder and Estelle Laure. Nasario Garcia’s “Hoe, Heaven and Hell: My Boyhood in Rural New Mexico” documents his experiences growing up in the Río Puerco Valley as part of a farming family. Rob Wilder’s “Nickel” takes the reader inside the coded world of teenagers. Estelle Laure’s “But Then I Came Back” tells the story of 17-year-old Eden, who survives a car accident and finds her life changed.

The reading takes place from 7 to 9 p.m., and tickets are $8 for the public and $5 for SOMOS members. SOMOS is located at 108 Civic Plaza Drive.

Garcia holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in Portuguese from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D. in 19th-century Spanish literature from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, he pursued graduate studies in Granada, Spain, under linguist Dr. Manuel Alvar and Golden Age specialist Emilio Orozco Diaz. Additionally, Garcia studied at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Garcia retired from a 37-year academic career in Hispanic languages and literature, during which he taught in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado and New Mexico and served for seven years in administration. He makes his home in Santa Fe.

Garcia has written 31 books and translated five works. “Hoe, Heaven and Hell” has received several awards, including recognition from the International Latino Book Awards, the Historical Society of New Mexico and the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.

“My biography is a microcosm of what life was like in Hispanic villages during the 1940s in northern New Mexico where families like mine lived primarily off the land raising corn and pinto beans, the main staples, plus other crops,” said Garcia in an email correspondence with Tempo. “The stories encompass a potpourri of topics from schooling, farm work, fiestas, religious and secular holidays, cattle-roundups to witchcraft.”

Wilder has been teaching English and creative writing at Santa Fe Prep for the past 21 years. In 2009, he was awarded the “Innovations in Reading Prize” by the National Book Foundation. Wilder has published his essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction and Working Mother and has written two books of essays: “Tales from the Teacher’s Lounge” and “Daddy Needs a Drink.” He has appeared on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” “The Madeleine Brand Show” and “On Point” and other national and regional radio programs, including the weekly “Daddy Needs a Drink Minute,” which airs on Santa Fe’s 98.1 KBAC-FM.

For the SOMOS reading, Wilder will be reading a chapter from his novel, which is titled “Nickel” and follows the life and voice of a boy named Coy.

“When I started ‘Nickel,’ many of the kids I was thinking about spoke in code and sound effects, so my early drafts were an attempt to try and emulate that manner of speech,” explained Wilder. “Every state, town, school, class, friend, group and individual has their own way of speaking. My own students’ slang changes and evolves daily. Coy’s voice is his own and reflects who he is, where he comes from and what’s ahead of him.”

On the experience of writing “Nickel,” Wilder commented: “My two previous books were nonfiction. With nonfiction, you already have a world that you can furnish and lean on. With a novel, you need to create a world and everything in it from the ground up. Having a novel floating around your head is a huge undertaking and quite the commitment. Living in the world of ‘Nickel’ for years was all consuming and wonderful and difficult. I always thought it sounded precious when I heard novelists say, ‘It was hard to leave the characters,’ but now I get it.”

Laure holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works as an agency associate at Folio Literary Management. Laure moved from Europe to the United States when she was 6 and to Taos as a teenager.

She is the author of “This Raging Light.” Her new book, “But Then I Came Back,” is being published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and due out on April 4. The soon-to-be-published book just received a starred review from Kirkus Review.

“I am so passionate about writing for teens because it’s such an intense period in life filled with so many firsts for most: first love, first sex, first independent ideas about who we want to be, sometimes first death, and on,” Laure said in an email correspondence with Tempo. “It’s gorgeous and painful and endlessly fascinating to me. I consider it a great privilege to write for young readers.”

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