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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nature and Travel Writing in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

El Capitan from the Pine Springs Station,
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
(This is a mirror post from my main blog, Madam Mayo.)

This past weekend for my workshops as artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park I offered this handout which includes three brief, fun, easy-peasy and yet powerfully effective exercises to rev up your writerly perceptions.

We can think of the best writing about nature and travel, whether fiction or nonfiction, as instructions for the reader to form in his or her mind a "vivid dream," an experience of the world. How do we, whether as readers, or as any human being (say, folding laundry or maybe digging for worms with a stick), experience anything? Of course, we experience the world through our bodies, that is to say, through our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing-- and I would add a "gut" or intuitive sense as well... CONTINUE READING

P.S. Loads more resources for writers on my workshop page.

> Some of my travel writing is herehere, and here.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Q & A with Mary S. Black about Her Book "From the Frio to Del Rio"

Just posted over on my main every-Monday blog, Madam Mayo:

One of my very favorite places not just in Texas but in the galaxy is the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, so I was delighted to see that Texas A & M Press has published Mary S. Black's splendid and much-needed guidebook, From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands

From the catalog:
"Each year, more than two million visitors enjoy the attractions of the Western Hill Country, with Uvalde as its portal, and the lower Pecos River canyonlands, which stretch roughly along US 90 from Brackettville, through Del Rio, and on to the west. Amistad National Recreation Area, the Judge Roy Bean Visitors’ Center and Botanical Garden, Seminole Canyon State Park, and the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde, along with ghost towns, ancient rock art, sweeping vistas, and unique flora and fauna, are just a few of the features that make this distinctive section of the Lone Star State an enticing destination.
Mary S. Black
Author of Peyote Fire
and
From the Frio to Del Rio
"Now, veteran writer, blogger, and educator Mary S. Black serves up the best of this region’s special adventures and secret treasures. From the Frio to Del Rio is chock-full of helpful maps, colorful photography, and tips on where to stay, what to do, and how to get there. In addition there are details for 10 scenic routes, 3 historic forts and 7 state parks and other recreation areas."

Herewith an interview with the author:

C.M. MAYO: What inspired you to write this book? 



MARY S. BLACK: I think what inspired me was the land itself, and the history. The Lower Pecos Canyonlands are not well known by most people, but the landscape is incredibly majestic and unexpected. You can be driving 70 miles per hour down the highway through the desert, when, wham, a huge canyon veers off to the left like a sudden tear in the earth.  ... CONTINUE READING 

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

P.S. For the second half of this month I am artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. I'll be giving a free travel and nature writing workshop, probably over Memorial Day weekend. Details to be announced shortly. And yes, the Marfa Mondays podcasts will resume ASAP. Twenty have been posted to date, four more are in-process for a total of 24. Listen in anytime here.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River by Patrick Dearen



When I closed the cover of Patrick Dearen's Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos River it was with both gratitude and the unsettling sense of having arrived into new territory— raw, rich, appalling—in my understanding of Far West Texas. This is no minor thing to acknowledge; for some years now I have been at work on a book about that very region.

But first, for those who don't have a jones for, shall we say, Wild Westerie, why bring Far West Texas into the cross hairs? And why give a hoededo about its skinny river so salty, to quote one of Dearen's informants, that "a snake wouldn't drink it"?  CONTINUE READING

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Visit to "The Equestrian" in El Paso

This finds me working on the book on Far West Texas, and about to resume the Marfa Mondays podcasts (20 podcasts posted so far, 4 more to go, listen in anytime). I just posted a brief video of my visit last November to see, among other wonders and curiosities, a most extraordinary and controversial statue at the El Paso International Airport.

Because of the way it is placed, directly behind a grove of extra-fluffy trees, and at the entrance where most drivers, speeding in, are on the lookout for signs, such as rental car return, departures, arrivals or parking, I daresay few passersby would even notice the statue. I myself drove by it more times that I would like to admit before I realized it was there.

Here's my 3 minute video:



... Continue reading this post my main blog, Madam Mayo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Mexican Revolution at the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas

[[ WASHI & ULI, stop those suitcases! ]]
I have been visiting Alpine, Texas for the annual Center for Big Bend Studies conference to talk about Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. Check out the conference, which is rich with archaeology and history and more on the Big Bend but also the wider region of West Texas and encompassing parts of the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, here



Monday, October 31, 2016

A Visit to Allá in Santa Fe

Yes, the focus of this "Marfa Mondays" blog, the podcast series, and the book-in-progress is Far West Texas or Trans-Pecos Texas. But this region is economically, culturally and altogether every way connected to that string of towns and pueblos along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, and that includes Santa Fe, New Mexico. So with that as justification I present this brief blog post on Allá-- excerpted from a longer post over on my main blog, Madam Mayo, about the recent Women Writing the West conference.

A VISIT TO ALLÁ, THE BEST SPANISH LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE NORTH OF THE BORDER

So many writers and translators over the years have told me about Allá (I mean you, José SkinnerRaymond CaballeroPatricia Dubrava...) I could not imagine visiting Santa Fe without seeing it. I had heard that Allá was on the southwest corner of the Plaza, but on my previous visit to Santa Fe, I couldn't find it. This time, armed with the precise address, 102 West San Francisco St, and my smartphone's map app, I discovered that it is a little ways past southwest corner of the Plaza, and you won't find a sign on the street. However, as you can see in the photo below, there is a reference Allá Arte- Libros - Música pasted in between some steps on the stairs. 

So head on up to the second floor, hang a right, and there you may enter into the bright warren of rooms all filled with tesoros, both literary and scholarlyand if you're lucky, meet the owner himself, James J. Dunlap.




Yes, here you can find Mexican writers such as Agustín Cadena and Mónica Lavín. And bless his corazón, he had books on Mexico in English by my amigos, Bruce Berger and David Lida and... drumrrrrrrroll... he had 
two of my books sitting out on the table, Mexico A Traveler's Literary Companion and Sky Over El Nido, and he said he had just recently sold another title, Miraculous Air, my memoir of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. 


[[ JAMES J. DUNLAP, ALLÁ IN SANTA FE ]]

Speaking of miracles, my luggage accommodated the pile of books I hauled out of there, including some Mexican scholarly works on the Apaches and Comanches that, from Mexico City, I have been trying to hunt down for over a year. Somehow I also took home a fat hardcover first edition of a memoir of life among some indigenous people in Tierra del Fuego. 
Visit Allá at your own risk! If you dare, tell Jim that Mayo told you to ask about a-gogo and psícadelico


> See also the article by Uriel J. Garcia in Santa Fe New Mexican, "Allá Bookstore is Santa Fe Man's Portal to Latin America"
> Your comments are always very welcome. Write to me here.


> The much-delayed Marfa Mondays Podcast 21 is almost ready to post. Meanwhile, listen in to the other 20 podcasts anytime here.






Sunday, September 18, 2016

Literary Travel Writing: Notes on Process and the Digital Revolution

Confession: After I snapped this photo with my iPhone I checked my email
-- just to see if I could! Alas, I could.]]

The aim of literary travel writing was-- and remains-- to bring the reader to deeply notice, that is, get out of her head and into the world of specific sounds, smells, tastes, textures, colors, ideas, histories, geographies, geologies... In the words of Kenneth Smith, "You have to open space, and deepen place."  >> CONTINUE READING AT MY MAIN BLOG, "MADAM MAYO"