New Mexico is a hotbed of creativity, especially the poetic kind. A ridiculous number of poets were born and bred in or later relocated to the state — and many of them are winning national awards for their writing, often shining a spotlight on New Mexico traditions and terrain. Poet and fiction writer Benjamin Alire Sáenz, originally from Old Picacho, New Mexico — and currently chairman of the creative-writing department at the University of Texas at El Paso — won this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his story collection Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (published by Cinco Puntos Press). The first Hispanic writer to win the award since it was established in 1981, Sáenz has also received an American Book Award and numerous awards for his poetry, including a Lannan Foundation Poetry Fellowship. Sáenz reads from his poetry at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St., 988-4226) at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, alongside locally renowned poet Miriam Sagan, author of more than 20 books and director of the Santa Fe Community College creative-writing program. Their reading is part of the Muse Times Two poetry series, a project of Lore of the Land, Inc.
Arthur Sze, a former poet laureate of Santa Fe and author of eight books of poetry, was named the winner of this year’s Jackson Poetry Prize from the nonprofit Poets & Writers. The annual $50,000 prize, established seven years ago, is given to “an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition.” Sze is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts and a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two creative-writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other honors. He is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
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