One of my primary concerns as a researcher is “how does place make a person human?” I return to this question over and over again, whether I am writing creative nonfiction, short fiction, or poetry. When I say, “place,” though, I don’t just mean a location you can point to on a map. To me, a place is more akin to how we think about an ecosystem, as relationships between physical and non-physical elements, or as a system of interactions between living or non-living components and intangible forces (history, culture, etc.). A “place” can be a community or a physical space.

I write a lot about New Mexico. It’s a beautiful and, at times, unnerving landscape. We’ve got scrubby deserts and hoodoos, mountains and lava flows, valleys of white sand and hot springs. Part of the state is a supervolcano, just like Yellowstone. With over 4,500 species living here, it’s the fourth most ecologically diverse state in the country. There are even jaguars still eking out an endangered existence in the southern part of the state. But it’s also a land that set aside by the national government to be sacrificed as a violence laboratory, a testing site for atomic bombs and a disposal site for nuclear waste. If you go to the Trinity Site, you’re in a military base and what is essentially a wildlife preserve for oryxes. If you visit the neighboring national park, you’re also hiking through a missile testing range and asked not to disturb any strange objects you might find because they might be undetonated bombs. The contrast our home state offers is unique and a little terrifying.

I have more than 50 publications in literary and academic journals. Below are some of my current projects.
 

 

Poetry

I have written several lyric and visual essays about New Mexico, and lately, I have been working on a poetry manuscript, “A Poetic Inventory of the Flora and Fauna of the Sandia Mountains.” You may have heard of a “scientific inventory” of a location’s biodiversity, where field ecologists catalogue all of the flora and fauna present in the area. Sometimes there are events in cities that motivate citizen scientists to help catalogue this diversity in a certain time frame, such as 72 hours. Unlike a scientific inventory, the poetic inventory moves beyond a strictly literal cataloging, which does not arrive at the essence of a thing. Many of these poems explore the relationship between “wilderness and civilization,” human impact on designated nature zones/open space, and how wilds reemerge within the city. In these some of poems, I have invented local “folktales,” reimagined real histories, and moved beyond regurgitating facts to help create a sense of the animals, the plants, and the place.

One of the questions that I am asked a lot is what does research mean for this kind of writing. Often, I start with basic questions that I have about a thing. What is it? It’s not enough to say it’s a cactus—what kind of cactus? What is it related to? What’s the difference between a cane cholla and a Christmas cholla? What does its Latin name mean? What is the history of the object? How have humans interacted with it historically? Is it edible or used for other purposes—medicine, fences, fire? Introduced or native? To answer these questions, I read both primary and secondary documents. I’ve read dissertations turned into books about certain types of squirrels that live in the Sandias. I’ve read translations of records written by friars written in the 16th century. I keep little collections of facts and quotes about the thing I’m reading about. Not all of these notes make it into the poem, but they all serve the poem in some way.

You can find these poems in the Kenyon Review, Rattle, Thin Air, and several other literary magazines that publish poetry on a regular basis.

 

Creative Nonfiction

 

Since 2015, I have been learning fencing and writing about my experiences. Fencing has a rich historical background, from the days of trial by combat, when the seventh century Lombards proved their innocence through a duel, medieval knights’ acts of courage and chivalry, to the cunning fictional character Zorro who defends the innocent of California. This artistic sport has been greatly romanticized and fictionalized from eleventh century lore to The Three Musketeers. Contemporary fencing is not as well known or understood as its fictional double. Women’s participation in this sport has not enjoyed the same attention as men’s—even in stories, female characters are more often the cause of duels than duelists. You can read some of these essays in the Cossack Review, Oyez Review, and Prairie Schooner.

Here's a selection of essays not related to fencing:

“I Remember Winter,” We All Lived Here, Eastern Washington University (Spring 2017): online.

“Recorded Lightning,” Creative Nonfiction Magazine. (Issue 58, Winter 2016).

Winner of the Best Essay Prize and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

“Against Cupcakes,” The Los Angeles Review, (Vol. 15, 2014).

“The One I Did Not Smash,” Utne Reader (July/August 2012).

Poetic Routes

This interactive poetry map pinpoints residents’ (and visitors’) reflections and emotions on specific streets, buildings, and landmarks within Albuquerque. Through this poetic cartography, both emerging and established writers layer their voices with the history and cultural vibrancy of the city.

This project, like the city itself, shows a complex and ever-changing set of relationships to our natural and built environment.

Interested participants can contribute by writing original poems about specific locations in the city, responding to previously published work, or attending one of our upcoming workshop sessions. Click here to visit the site.

Interdisciplinary Creative Work

In Progress       “Look Under Your Feet, the Past Is There” Voice Actress for Badlands National

Park, SD Audio Drama.

2018                 "American Lumber Company" and "Navajo Addition," original drawings for banners to be installed along Mountain Road for the public art exhibit "History of the Neighborhood Through the Eyes of Contemporary Artists," Artist

2017                 “Hummingbird Mural” at the Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, Painter.

2017                 “A Camp at Valles Caldera,” photographic series for Where Does Your Capital

Lie? a book from National Monument Press.

2016                 “A Hole in the Breast,” original drawing on marbled paper, for Unstitched States,

an online digital quilt ed. Gretchen Henderson and Allison Dalton with

support of the Kenyon Review

2013                 “Bunnythulhu” sculptural installation on display in Honors Forum and the Global                                 Education Office.

INTERVIEWS

“On Abstract Text and the Concrete Object,” Essay Daily, Online: January 2017.

“Urban Foraging,” Living on Earth, Public Radio International, Radio and online: October 2016.

“How Places Makes Us Human,” Creative Nonfiction. Online: February 2016.

 

PRESENTATIONS
Conference Papers
Oct. 2017          “Tarantula Hawk Wasp,” ABQ Zinefest, Albuquerque, NM.

Feb. 2017         “The Last of Our Unreasonable Customs,” Southwest Popular Culture and

American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, NM.

Feb. 2016         “On Flesh Wounds,” Creative Writing–Autobiography, Southwest Popular Culture

and American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, NM.

Feb. 2015         “A Poetic Inventory of the Sandia Mountain Wilderness,” Creative Writing–Poetry

Session Chair, Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture

Association Conference, Albuquerque, NM.

Feb. 2014         “Glitches in the FBI”; Creative Writing–Poetry Session Chair, Southwest Popular                              Culture and American Culture Associations Conference, Albuquerque, NM.
Feb. 2013         “West Mesa,” Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations

Conference, Albuquerque, NM.

 

Roundtable Discussions and Panel Sessions

April 2018         “Teaching in Interesting Times,” Western Regional Honors Council Conference, Orange, CA.

Feb. 2018         "Alternate Lives and Worlds: A Roundtable on Interdisciplinary Popular Culture

Pedagogy," Southwest Popular American Culture Association

Conference, Albuquerque, NM.

Nov. 2017         “The Pen Is Mightier: Creative Nonfiction in the Honors Classroom,” National

Collegiate Honors Council Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Oct. 2017          “Poetry Takeover!” UNM Honors College Discovery Series, Albuquerque, NM.

June 2017         “The Kinetic Page in the U.S. and in Iceland: A Discussion and Performance of

Multiform Nonfiction” NonfictioNow Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland

April 2017         “Reading and Writing the Landscape,” Western Regional Honors Council

Conference, Ashland, OR.

Oct. 2016          “Know Yourself, Know Your Alumni,” National Collegiate Honors Council

Conference, Seattle, WA.

April 2016         “Unbound: Open Media, Closed Format,” Western Regional Honors Council

Conference, Riverside, CA.

Nov. 2015         “Students Energizing Alumni Engagement,” National Collegiate Honors Council

Conference, Chicago, IL.

Nov. 2015         “Developing Curiosity in Your Curriculum,” National Collegiate Honors Council

Conference, Chicago, IL.

April 2015         “Perfectly Bound: The Scribendi Classroom,” Western Regional Honors Council

Conference, Reno, NV.

April 2014         “From Program to College: The Challenges of Establishing an Interdisciplinary

Honors Curriculum,” Western Regional Honors Council Conference, Denver, CO

Nov. 2013         “On the Road to Discovery,” National Collegiate Honors Council Conference,
New Orleans, LA

March 2005        “Publishing Process,” Western Regional Honors Council Conference, Las Vegas, NV

April 2004         “Media Portrayals of Native Americans,” UNM Research and

Creativity Symposium, Albuquerque, NM. Received Class Panel Award.

 

Poster Presentations

Nov. 2014         "The God Particle Is a Beatles Fan: Interdisciplinary and Experiential Approaches
to Creative Writing," National Collegiate Honors Council Conference Denver, CO

 

Workshops and Seminars

Feb. 2017         “Cutting Creativity into Your Curriculum: A Found Poetry Workshop.” Southwest

Popular Culture and American Culture Association Conference,

Albuquerque, NM.

Nov. 2014         "Developing in Honors Workshop: Student Publications,” National Collegiate

Honors Council Conference Denver, CO

Nov. 2011         “Communities of Practice for the Advanced User: RSS Feeds,” National
Association of Agricultural Educators Convention, St. Louis, MO

 

Guest Lectures and Presentations
Spring 2017 “Poetic Essays and Concrete Texts” 200-level Georgetown University, Creative

Writing course (teacher of record, Gretchen Henderson)

Fall 2016 “Nansen Kills a Kitten,” UNM Honors College Graduation Ceremony Speech

Spring 2016 “Creative Nonfiction Sports Writing” 400-level University of New Mexico

Honors course (teacher of record, Ryan Swanson)

Spring 2013 "What Happened to the 2012 Maya Doomsday Prophecy?” 400-level University

of New Mexico Honors course (teacher of record, Elizabeth Olton)

 

PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION, HONORS & AWARDS

2016     Best Essay Award for “Recorded Lightning,” Creative Nonfiction magazine

Nominated for 2016 Pushcart Prize

2015     Finalist: Pacemaker Award, Associated Collegiate Press

Award Given to Magazines for Excellence in Content, Design, Editing, and Theme

2015     Outstanding New Teacher of the Year, Awarded by the University of New Mexico

2014     Finalist: Association of Writers and Writing Programs Undergraduate Journal Award

2013     Winner: Pacemaker Award, Associated Collegiate Press

Award Given to Magazines for Excellence in Content, Design, Editing, and Theme

 

GRANTS

2013     Grant to develop “Lewis and Clark’s Montana: Reading and Writing the Landscape,”
Teaching Allocations Committee, UNM