You’ve read their books. Enjoyed their stories. Now you can meet and chat with some of your favorite New Mexico authors.
Sunday, September 21, the Friends of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library will host Celebrate Authors. The event will be at the Bradley D. & William B. Restaurant on El Paseo (formerly Lemongrass) from 3 to 5 p.m.
According to Josie Banks, membership chair of the Friends, this is the largest event the Friends has organized in recent years. She says, “This will be a great way to meet your favorite authors, listen to readings, and purchased autographed copies of their work.” The program will include nine local writers whose work ranges from fiction, to history, sports, cooking, and even poetry. “They’ll be something to satisfy everyone’s taste in reading,” Banks adds.
Participating authors include novelist Jennifer Cervantes, history-writer David Thomas, cookbook author Kelley Coffeen, and non-fiction writers Paula Moore and Rus Bradburd. Poets Spencer Herrera and Ellen Young will also be on hand. Connie Vermeer and Denise Chavez complete the writers’ roundup.
Like many Las Crucens, most of these writers have adopted New Mexico as their home, each having been drawn here in some enchanting way. Cervantes, who wrote the popular young-adult novel Tortilla Sun, says she on her web site she was raised in San Diego, California, where she “rode the waves and built sand castles, but I always dreamed of living on a horse farm in Connecticut.” She didn’t quite achieve that goal but, she adds, “I did end up in a beautiful, quiet, and serene place called the Land of Enchantment.” She loves Mexican food and watching NFL football games. You’ll have to ask her how joining her youngest daughter on their trampoline helps her get past writer’s block.
Rus Bradburd is a transplant from Chicago. He coached basketball in Ireland, at UTEP, and for fourteen seasons at NMSU before leaving sports to pursue a writing career. Now he teaches writing for students in NMSU’s MFA program. That is, when he’s not writing essays for the New York Times, The Houston Chronicle, SLAM Magazine, or the Los
Angeles Times. His first book, Paddy on the Hardwood: A Journey in Irish Hoops, chronicles his experience coaching the Irish…those in the Emerald Isles and not at Notre Dame.
Kelley Coffeen may be the closest to a “local girl,” having lived in Yuma, Arizona. She’s been a Las Crucen for more than two decades, earning a master’s degree in family and consumer sciences from NMSU. Besides being a regional sales and marketing executive specializing in food, lifestyle, and home topics, Coffeen is well-known for her five Southwest cuisine cookbooks. You may even have seen her on El Paso’s NBC television affiliate sharing culinary tips on her regular cooking show.
Born in Houston, Spencer Herrera migrated west through schools — Southwestern University, University of Houston, and University of New Mexico. He is associate professor of Spanish at NMSU and specializes in Chicano/a literature, studies, and film. His book Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicaho Homeland speaks of the sacred places where people gathered in the name of community can be found. Through a combination of prose, photographs,
and poems, Sagrado is neither a search for identity nor a quest for a homeland, but an affirmation of an ever-evolving cultural landscape, something we are all keenly aware of with the continuing political turmoil about
our southern border.
Celebrate Authors is almost a revival for the Friends, which has supported the Branigan Library for nearly 40 years. Thanks to a state law, the organization was unable to continue using library space to run its Books & More store, proceeds from which provided funding for the Children and Young Adult Summer programs.
This year the Friends hope to provide another computer for the children’s wing. Banks says, “The children catch on quickly to touch screens and child-friendly programs for pre-schoolers. A third computer would shorten lines for
those waiting to use these much-demanded learning tools.”
While the September 21 event is being sponsored by Citizen’s Bank, the Friends of the Library organization is selling tickets at $5 to defray the cost of refreshments. Tickets can be ordered in advance from at 532-1207 or 525-2745 or purchased at the door.
If you think you might want to pick up a signed copy of the authors’ latest work, plan to bring cash or checks, since many of them are not equipped to handle credit cards. Also, if you’re one of Las Cruces’ bibliophiles, you may want to consider joining the Friends. Annual dues are $15 for individuals and $30 for families. “And, of course, we’re always happy to accept donations in any amount,” Banks adds.