Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordcraft -- Taos and your inner cowboy

I’m borrowing an idea for inspiring travel destinations for writers from a magazine. Nothing against London, Paris or New York, but how about something less obvious? How about Taos, New Mexico?

If you’re coming from North Texas, Taos is only a day’s drive away. Okay, a long day’s drive, especially if you’re addicted to scenic routes like I am. I like taking the road through Tucumcari, New Mexico, if only for the fun of saying I’ve been to a place called “Tucumcari.”

But why go to Taos? For starters, the expected high temperature there as I write this is 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Put that beside Dallas’s 103. Besides, Taos, or at least the nearby Taos Pueblo -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- has a claim to being the oldest continuously occupied town in the United States.

And of course there’s its quirky literary history. Its most famous literary resident was D.H. Lawrence. Yes, the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover lived and wrote at Kiowa Ranch north of Taos during the early 1920’s.

The ranch’s owner gave the deed to Lawrence’s wife Frieda. At her death, it became the property to the University of New Mexico, and is open to the public.

A more recent claim literary fame for Taos came when the late Tony Hillerman included it as the setting for his early book, The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other Indian Country Tales.

Whether you visit Taos in person or imagination, maybe you’ll be inspired to consider some of the upcoming writing conferences and residencies set in the West. You don’t have to be a cowboy to qualify:

The Ghost Ranch Fall Writing Festival features workshops in poetry and nonfiction at Abiquiu, New Mexico, October 9-15. For details and costs, see

The Jentel Artist Residency Program near Sheridan, Wyoming, accepts applications September 15 for its January through May 2012 residencies for writers. See for requirements.

The Montana Artist Refuge requires applications by August 31 for residencies for writers in Basin, Montana. See


Things for free that won’t use your A/C:
Reservations close at noon today (Wednesday) for Nicholas Carr’s discussion of his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. To register, go to club and scroll down to The discussion is Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Dallas Arboretum. Free, but normal parking fees apply for non-Arboretum members.

The Angelika Film Center celebrates its tenth anniversary today with free films from 1:30 -10 p.m. The Angelika is in Dallas at Mockingbird Station, Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway. See for schedules.

While you’re out, consider turning up your home thermostat a couple of notches to give the grid a break.

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