Event marks inaugural Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture

The UNM Department of English kicks off the new Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture Series on the Literature of the Southwest on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the George Pearl Hall auditorium. The featured speaker is Acoma Pueblo poet and scholar Simon J. Ortiz. He will speak on the connections among indigenous cultures, Southwest studies and global literature. A reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

The English department has established the annual lecture series through a gift from renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya. "Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was a wonderful teacher and creative writer in our department," said Gail Houston, chair, Department of English. "We feel privileged to have received his generous donation, and we are honored that the first lecture will be given by distinguished poet, writer and scholar Simon Ortiz. There is no better venue for celebrating Southwest literature than the University of New Mexico English Department. We look forward to sharing this free event with everyone at UNM and in the community."

The lecture is one in a series of events at UNM and across the state paying tribute to Anaya's contributions to Southwest literature, including the selection of his best-selling novel Bless Me, Ultima for the 2010 Lobo Reading Experience. "I'm honored by such recognition for my work and I'm pleased to be a part of the new lecture series on Southwest literature, which provides a forum to address the artistic depth and diversity of our region," Anaya said.

The choice of Simon J. Ortiz as the inaugural speaker recognizes another New Mexico writer with an international reputation. Widely regarded as a foundational figure in Native American literature, Ortiz is the author of 15 books of poetry, fiction, essays, and children's literature, including Going for the Rain (1976), Woven Stone (1992), Men on the Moon (1999), and From Sand Creek (2000), plus the collection A Ceremony of Brotherhood, 1680-1980, co-edited with longtime friend Rudolfo Anaya. Ortiz's research and writing focus on the decolonization of indigenous people's land, culture, and community, and the relationship between academic institutions and indigenous communities.

"We are thrilled to welcome Simon Ortiz back to UNM, where he was first a student and later a professor in the English Department," said Kathleen Washburn, assistant professor. "He has been an important and inspiring literary voice for more than 30 years, and we look forward to his insights on the growing field of Southwest literature."

Currently a professor at Arizona State University, Ortiz received an honorary doctorate from UNM in 2002. He has taught literature and creative writing at UNM, Institute of American Indian Arts, Navajo Community College, San Diego State University, Sinte Gleska College and the University of Toronto. He also served as lieutenant governor of the Pueblo of Acoma as well as consulting editor for the Pueblo of Acoma Press.

For more information, contact Kathleen Washburn at washburn@unm.edu or 505-414-5983.

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920; e-mail: cgonzal@unm.edu