Portales Arts Council program gets revived

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Danielle Holmes is excited to revive a Portales Arts Council program that will bring two writers she admires to Portales.

Writers Ruth Thompson and Don Mitchell will be featured in the council’s Artists in Residence program to start on Tuesday. The pair will get comfy as they make Portales their home for two weeks while interacting with locals through a variety of arts-related workshops and events.

As vice president of the council’s board, Holmes said the two writers were ideal for the program’s comeback.

“They’re both very personable and we knew they’d bring variety,” said Holmes, a military spouse and Eastern New Mexico University student.

Holmes said their previous visits at ENMU have garnered invitations back to the area and she feels aspiring writers and artists will learn a lot from them because they’re open books.

“During the school year, they were so willing to answer any question,” Holmes said. “They really wanted a schedule that would keep them involved in the community.”

The events feature a range of activities for all ages and they are not limited to writers. Holmes advises people to bring any form of art they’d like to work on for the Creativity Group workshops, such as photography, and all the events are free and open to the communities of Portales, Clovis and Cannon Air Force Base.

Ruth Thompson

A native Californian, Ruth Thompson was a professor and college dean in Los Angeles for many years before moving to Colden, New York with her partner, writer Don Mitchell.

Ruth Thompson Native Californian author

Ruth Thompson
Native Californian author

Thompson’s most recent book, “Woman with Crows,” was published by Word Press Books in 2012. It was a finalist for the AROHO Foundation’s To the Lighthouse Poetry Prize, and poems from the book won the New Millennium Writings Poetry Award and the Harpur Palate Milton Kessler Memorial Prize.

Thompson’s poems have been widely published and she has read from her books throughout California, in western New York and in New Mexico. She also teaches yoga, meditation, and writing workshops.

Don Mitchell

Don Mitchell is an anthropologist, writer, and photographer whose field work among the Nagovisi people of Bougainville (a province in Papua New Guinea) focused on ecology and land use. He lived in Nagovisi for several years in the 1960s and 1970s, and returned in 2001 after Bougainville’s war of secession.

His first story collection, “A Red Woman was Crying,” has been published by Saddle Road Press.

Mitchell grew up on the island of Hawai’i in Hawaii, in a town named Hilo, about twice the size of Portales. Hilo was and is a multicultural, multilingual town and that’s what steered him towards anthropology.

He studied anthropology and creative writing at Stanford University and earned a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University. For many years he was a professor in western New York, as well as an active marathon runner.

He published an academic book and articles on Nagovisi, but in the early 1990s he returned to writing fiction and poetry. His stories of another culture have won praise from many quarters, including a Pushcart nomination and awards from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, New Millennium Writing and other journals. He also publishes online at The Nervous Breakdown.

Don Mitchell Anthropologist, writer

Don Mitchell
Anthropologist, writer

During his residency he’ll be working on his novel, “News of Elsewhere,” which includes many of the characters from the story collection, and leading workshops for the community.

He lives with the poet Ruth Thompson in western New York near Buffalo, and in Hilo, Hawai’i.

Tuesday
Book Signing — 5-6:30 p.m., Do Drop In.
Wednesday
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Thursday
Poetry Workshop led by Ruth Thomas — 7-9 p.m., Lea Hall Conference Room on ENMU’s campus.
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Friday
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Saturday
Open Mic — 7-9 p.m., Roosevelt Brewing Company.
Aug. 5
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Aug. 6
Writing workshops for children — 4-5:30 p.m., Portales Public Library.
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Aug. 7
Creativity Group led by Don Mitchell — 7-9 p.m., Art and Anthropology Design Lab on ENMU’s campus.
Aug. 8
Poetry Workshop led by Ruth Thomas — 7-9 p.m., Lea Hall Conference Room on ENMU’s campus.
Aug. 9
Closing Reception and sharing of work — 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m., Underground Embassy in Clovis.

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