Poetry picnic attracts eclectic mix to
festival By Sari Krosinsky
If you're looking for a chance to
away from campus for a day, have a picnic out in the open air and
experience some good writing and art to boot, the sixth annual Poets
& Writers' Picnic has just what you're looking for.
"Where else can you get blacksmithing, sheep dog herding and other
rural high jinx, plus music, art and good spoken word, all in the same
festival?" said Dale Harris, founder of the Picnic and co-editor of the
local monthly poetry magazine, Central Avenue in an e-mail interview.
The Picnic will take place this Saturday from 12-4 p.m., at the Shaffer
Hotel - a historic building in Mountainair as part of the town's
Sunflower Festival. The reading includes featured poets and writers,
music and an open mic set against the backdrop of a folk art wall and
the "Devil's Gate" in the Shaffer's gazebo garden.
Harris and her husband Scott Sharot started the Poets & Writers'
Picnic six years ago, when they owned the Hummingbird Café in
"At the café we had fabulous monthly poetry readings and other
such as an annual garlic festival - with a Garlic Slam, of course - and
I thought an event such as the Picnic would be fun for people to come
to," Harris said.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, who received an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree
from UNM during the spring 2003 commencement, was one of the featured
poets at the first picnic.
This year's features include poets Gary Mex Glazner, Larry Goodell, UNM
alumna Kat Heatherington, Sheila Cowing and Jenny Goldberg, writers
Sharon Niederman, Stephen Ausherman and Bob Monson with music by the
Harris said that poets of all kinds come to the picnic from all over
"Some cowboy poets may pop up and rapper, slammer types. It is quite a
mix," Harris said.
She also said that the location is one of the major benefits of the
"Not that I don't enjoy coffee houses, bookstores, bars, the usual
venues - I'll go anywhere for good writing," Harris said. "But to have
an old-fashioned picnic, spread your blanket on the grass, wear your
whites and straw hat one last time before summer's over. Where I grew
up in New England, after Labor Day it was poor form to dress in summer
gear - whatever. It is definitely not usual or at all stuffy, this
Harris said Mountainair is a "rough around the edges art town," a place
where rural life comes together with a cooperative gallery, art studios
and an outdoor art park called Art Alley.
Picnic goers can also check out other events at the Sunflower Festival
and Mountainair's Centennial celebration. The Poets and Writers' Picnic
"is very casual, a drop-in event where people come and go, stay to eat
and hear the poets and writers for a while, leave to see what else is
doing in town or pop into the Shaffer," Harris said.
The Poets and Writers' Picnic is a free event sponsored by the Manzano
Mountain Arts Council. For directions or more information, e-mail Dale
Harris at email@example.com.