The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Artistic pair is one you'll want to meet


March 13, 2019

Courtesy photo

Poet Ruth Thompson and writer/photographer Don Mitchell.

Two people you'll want to meet are arriving in eastern New Mexico this week to spend the remainder of March in our area. They're sharing their love of photography, writing, and poetry through a series of events in Portales and Clovis.

Don Mitchell and Ruth Thompson call Hilo, Hawaii, their home, but they are returning for their third visit since 2012 to the High Plains, this time as the Jack Williamson Endowed Chairs in Science and Humanities at Eastern New Mexico University.

But don't let that pretentious title scare you away - they are two of the warmest and most generous people you'll never know, and they are eager to share their talents and experiences as they teach an English department course for writers, present two public readings, and engage in a host of other activities.

They have impressive credentials.

Mitchell is an ecological anthropologist, writer, and photographer; Thompson is an award-winning poet who teaches writing and meditation. Together, they also run Saddle Road Press, a small literary press recently featured in "Poets and Writers" magazine.

They hope their return to the Land of Enchantment will offer them a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

"It's a lot like coming home," Mitchell said.

I met these two when they spent two weeks as "artists in residence" in Portales in the summer of 2013, and I was beyond delighted to learn they would be returning to our area. There are multiple ways to interact with them through March 29.

First off, the pair will be teaching English 493: Writing for Publication.

Carol Erwin, chair of ENMU's English department, said the eight-week format includes two weeks of classes on campus with Mitchell and Thompson (3-5 p.m. March 18-22 and 25-29), followed by six weeks of loosely structured electronic follow-up to polish and finish drafts.

The class is open to any interested person in the community, but participants must enroll by Monday, Erwin said. The three-credit hour class is $258 per credit hour, but "people who aren't really interested in college credit can audit it," Erwin said. The auditing cost is $258, or the equivalent of one credit hour.

"We're going to have some fun," Mitchell said. "No, seriously. This class won't be a 'how to write' class (as in prescriptive) and it won't be a workshop (no reading and commenting on other people's work). We'll both be talking about how to get yourself writing, how to discover things you might write about, revision, going public, and so on."

Mitchell and Thompson are scheduled for two free joint public readings, the first at 1 p.m. March 22 in Room 110 of ENMU's Arts and Anthropology building, and the second at 6:30 p.m. March 25 at Clovis-Carver Public Library, 701 N. Main, Clovis.

They hope to meet many community members at both readings.

"We're not pretentious big-city literati," Thompson promised. "We both really like and are interested in people, especially people who know things and do things that we don't."

Thompson will also be teaching a free workshop called "Body Speaking: Writing with Ruth Thompson" at 2 p.m. March 24 in the Sandia Room at ENMU's Campus Union Building.

She describes it as a "meditation, yoga, writing experience," but stressed that no experience is necessary for any of those.

"Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and bring a cushion, firm pillow, or folded blanket to sit on, plus a notebook and pen," she said, adding that chairs will be available for those who can't make it to the floor and up again.

"This workshop is useful for everyone because we all suffer from the 'noise' of life in the world today," Thompson said, "and connecting with ourselves is always restorative."

Finally, Mitchell will be meeting interested locals at 8 a.m. each weekday morning beginning Monday at the playground area in Rotary Park for free photography and writing sessions.

Mitchell has posted daily shots taken in and around his Hilo home for years to a site called:

He'll be using that same principle in Rotary Park: "Take your camera to a limited space, and don't leave until you find a picture."

He said the photography exercise is "an excellent practice, in the same way that yoga and meditation are excellent practices for other people. It trains the eye to look widely and narrowly."

"I hope people will take a chance to spend as much time with Don and Ruth as possible," Erwin said. "Beyond what they bring as writers, they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful people who love to meet new friends and experience landscape and beauty around them."

Anyone with questions may contact Erwin at 575-607-6643.

Betty Williamson is self-appointed president of the Don and Ruth fan club. Reach her at:

[email protected]


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