"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"
Taos, New Mexico USA
Barbara Waters, Executive Director
Mark Rossi, President
Marilyn Luther, Secretary
Mark Rossi, Treasurer
William Farr, Webmaster
Arleene Arnell, Consultant
Ann Jauregui, Workshop Director
You may click on a
topic to go directly to it.
by Frank Waters
The legal preservation of Barbara’s and my true home pleases me very much. Too often, at the death of one of the owners, house and property pass into the hands of developers who exploit them commercially for whatever they might bring on the market. We have seen this happen to houses of historic value, to crop-bearing land and to open land appreciated for its scenic worth. Fortunately, this will not happen to our own acreage and adobe house fronting El Salto Road in Arroyo Seco.
I well remember the first time I saw the site of this, our future home. I loved to walk up from the village into the mountains to the old cave and waterfall, reputed to have once been used by Indians of Taos Pueblo in their ceremonies. D.H. Lawrence featured the site in his novelette The Woman Who Rode Away. On the way I always stopped a moment to admire an abandoned adobe set back in a green lawn, surrounded by towering cottonwoods growing along the small stream flowing between the house and the road.
Casual inquiries revealed the owner’s name: Josephine Cordova, a woman who lived in El Prado with several children and was unable to keep up the property, as her husband was away much of the time. I eventually met her and bought the house and nearly 15 acres in 1947.
The house had two main rooms, each formerly occupied by a family, with a narrow room between them serving as a kitchen for each. With the help of Frank Samora I repaired the roof, strengthened the foundations and converted the narrow third room into a bathroom after running water was installed. Meanwhile the fences were repaired, and the pastures seeded with permanent grass for the two horses I owned.
How inspiring it was to stand on the roof, especially when I had to shovel off a new fall of snow, and look out over the clear fields and pastures, the mountains jutting out in a great semi-circle enclosing our little private world. To this day it remains a matchless sight.
It long remained practically inviolate, but there are signs of change. The road up from the village of Arroyo Seco has been paved as far as Celestino Quintana’s house next door. The wife of Salomé Duran, our other next-door neighbor, has died. Salomé is getting old, and his heirs will undoubtedly sell his beautiful big pasture adjoining ours.
Barbara, my wife, has taken two steps to preserve our land and house from sale and exploitation when we’re gone. She first granted the Taos Land Trust an easement, and then legally established the land as the Frank Waters Foundation. Its purpose, as explained elsewhere, is to build eventually several studios to be loaned for short periods of time to talented writers, musicians and painters of all ages who wish to carry on their creative work undisturbed in an area of natural beauty.
It will take time before sufficient funds are available. But Barbara and I feel happy that others like ourselves will enjoy the creative stimulation and natural beauty after we are gone.
As an old woman in a similar valley once observed, “There are many earths, and each has its own irreconcilable spirit of place. Now what is a man but his earth? It rises in walls to shelter him in life. It sinks to receive him at death. By eating its corn he builds his flesh into walls of this selfsame earth. He has its granitic hardness or its soft resiliency. He is different as each field even is different. Thus do I know my own earth; I can know no other.”
by Mark Rossi
When I first met Barbara and Frank Waters in their part-time home in Tucson, Arizona, Barbara and I had a brief discussion about the Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson. We had both hiked to the top of Baboquivari Peak on the southern end of the mountain range. This peak is sacred to the Tohono O’odham people. The home of their Spirit Brother, I’itoi exists within the peak. On the northern end of the range is Kitt Peak. It is the site of one of the largest solar imaging telescopes in the world and also holds a host of other astronomical observation telescopes.
The juxtaposition of meaning of the two prominent peaks of the Baboquivari Mountains is thought provoking. Similarly, I think of northern New Mexico and the sacred Taos Mountain that can be seen from Frank and Barbara Waters’ beloved home near Arroyo Seco and new construction beginning in the southern end of the state—a “spaceport” aiming to take tourists into space; perhaps even colonists to the moon. In every position we might find a new sense of deepening of roots and expansion of imagination.
The “Spirit of Creativity” remains evident. I believe that our Foundation’s position to shelter that Spirit has grown. Now we are poised for an adventurous expansion of our reason for being.
Recently the Foundation’s Board of Directors has seen changes. Barbara Waters has resigned her previous position as president in order to focus on development of future structure and goals for the Foundation. She remains on the board as Executive Director.
We have also accepted resignations from the board by Geoffrey and Mary Ann Torrence. Their contributions to the Foundation have been substantial. We remain thankful for their continuing friendship.
In October we will add four new board members: Pat McCabe, Magdalene Smith, Jacob Rosing, and John Jauregui. We will be telling you more about them in future issues.
Since the incorporation of the Frank Waters Foundation, we have seen growth and accomplishment, including the additions of a cabin and a shepherd’s wagon to house resident artists/writers/musicians/healers, the publication of five books, sponsorship of writing contests, a convention celebrating the centennial of Frank Waters’ birth, and numerous workshops, exhibits, readings, commissions, and performances.
We are now at the beginning of new growth. As the Foundation develops new perspectives, we also see the basic importance of continuous endowment and new focus on vital goals leading us into the future. All suggestions regarding our positive progress are welcome. The Foundation wants a sound platform from which to operate and to expand further the creativity we shelter. We are working on a revised mission statement that reflects this progress.
As a sculptor, I have often thought that I could create a lifetime of work just from inspiration arising from Frank Waters’ writing. I am certain that the Foundation’s continued promotion of Frank’s name, work, and major themes will stimulate creativity in others. We are proud to note that the Western Writers of America have elected Frank to their Hall of Fame. Similarly, we are very pleased that Yale’s Beinecke Library has recently purchased the Tal Luther collection of all Frank’s published works. This will provide public access to a most important research tool, as well as further the recognition of Frank’s literary legacy.
As the new President of the Frank Waters Foundation Board of Directors, I welcome all input from Foundation members and friends. Please feel free to address requests and suggestions to me via telephone (520) 623-7136, mail to 2415 North Fontana Avenue, Tucson, Arizona, 85707, and email to email@example.com. Thank you.
by Barbara Waters
We begin this twentieth newsletter by circling back to our first issue, published in 1993 and leading off with Frank’s article “In the Beginning.” All the rest of the articles in that issue were written by me because nobody else knew yet that the newsbaby had been born. I was somewhat surprised myself at the successful birth, and too modest to sign my name though a thorough reading of its content revealed my parenting.
Now that this baby is grown, I am sending her out on her own into the cold cruel world. A stepfather named Rossi will cushion her way, however. And from a distance I will keep a motherly eye out for rough spots that need a little help.
But I wanted us all to remember just what Frank’s hopes and plans and feelings about the Foundation were “in the beginning,” as well as my own hopes for that first cycle. Mark Rossi, who knows all this, is the perfect guide into our second cycle of becoming. He will have the best assistance available from our energetic new Board of Directors. And YOUR help will make a positive difference.
Having just been diagnosed with the disease, I will be concentrating much of my writing energy on my new Internet blog “Parkinson’s Straight from the Horse’s Mouth.” It is linked to our great Foundation website, www.frankwaters.org, and can be reached at the URL www.parkinsonsfromthehorsesmouth. blogspot.com where all is not gloom and doom!
Together we will continue to work toward our crucial universal goals of developing a higher consciousness, promoting oneness, and sheltering the creative spirit.
by Marilyn Luther
In May 2006, a Frank Waters collection put together by T.N. Luther over a period of many years was sold to Yale University, with a portion of it being given to Yale as a gift from Marilyn Luther, widow of Talmage (Tal) Luther. Tal held Frank’s work in high esteem, as well as Frank himself. He also admired greatly the work of Terence Tanner, who compiled Frank Waters. A Bibliography. With Relevant Selections from His Correspondence, published by Meyerbooks, Glenwood, Illinois, 1983. Tal attempted to collect everything listed in Tanner’s bibliography, as well as searching for everything done since the bibliography. He found some items that had eluded Tanner. Frank’s widow, Barbara Waters, believes this to be the largest Waters collection in existence.
The collection contains over 2000 items, including not only books by Frank, but also other writings of his that are part of the work of others, such as forewords, afterwords, and prefaces. The collection also contains interviews with Frank, letters to and from him, and manuscripts. Regarding the manuscripts, some are by Frank, and some are screenplays adapted by others from his works, such as The Man Who Killed the Deer. Tal also collected any books about Frank, as well as any that quoted from Frank or commented about Frank. He even collected books that had dust jacket blurbs written by Frank. There are posters, broadsides, reviews, articles in periodicals, contracts, CDs, VCR tapes, etc.
This collection became a kind of printing history, since every issue of every Waters title was collected that could be found. It also became somewhat of a social history and background of Waters’ milieu, with names, references, and material appearing repeatedly about those he knew. He knew Mabel Dodge Luhan, Dorothy Brett, Frieda Lawrence, Leon Gaspard, Max Evans, Tony Hillerman, Vine Deloria, Jr., Robert Kostka, Rudolfo Anaya, and many other creative notables. He knew Edith Warner, the fictionalized protagonist in Frank’s novel The Woman at Otowi Crossing about the Los Alamos area. Frank worked at Los Alamos in the 1950’s, and the collection contains a pamphlet he wrote for the Los Alamos project while he was there.
There are also writings by Frank’s wife, Barbara, that are valuable for insight into the life and ways of this great author, as well as letters from Barbara and Frank. There is a copy of his commencement address at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1981, and many other related items.
Tal Luther graduated from Yale with the class of 1950 in an inter-divisional American Studies program, and it would please him very much that his collection is at Yale. The Frank Waters Foundation is also pleased that the collection is housed at Yale, knowing it will not only be well taken care of, but will be available for research in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, known for its wealth of material. Yale also has a key collection of Mabel Dodge Luhan and Paul Horgan material. It has a magnificent collection of southwestern United States material, and a knowledgeable staff headed by George Miles.
Tal became a Western Americana book dealer in 1962. It was a natural extension of his deep involvement with book collecting. He became one of a marvelous group of bookmen in the United States during what has been described as “the golden years,” when almost anything seemed possible for a collector. Gold field diaries, other personal accounts of the frontier west, early historic pamphlets, broadsides, and books that today are considered rare could be found. Marilyn remembers Tal remarking one time as he was sending a rare book to a client that he would never again see this book, but it must not be sold for more than what he was asking for at the time.
I salute both Frank and Tal. Frank passed on June 3, 1995, and Tal on June 4, 2004. Each year their memorials are celebrated together by some dear friends and loved ones at the aspen grove beside Frank’s home in Arroyo Seco near Taos Mountain.
The columbine and shooting star,
The night-blooming primrose,
The paintbrush and the gentian
Are more dangerous than fields of grass
To steadiness and go-along.
This raging war –
The war of beauty and sudden grace.
Yet not so intractable
As freshlets leaping down
Over rocks, moss and fern
Fed by spendthrift fields of snow.
They delight the eye
As no bridge or temple could.
To wrench the meaning and fulfillment
From this text is to be free again
From what we never were at all.
— Tal Luther
by Nathan Bolls
In his essay “The Only Solid Ground In The Universe,” Andrew Cohen discusses the human soul, or at least his definition of the soul. This is dangerous ground because many different opinions exist as to just what comprises the human soul. But, please bear with me; Cohen makes a point which reminds me, each time I read the essay, of both Frank Waters and Tal Luther. In fact, I suspect that writers and artists especially, and those who truly are moved by art and literature, all are deeply familiar with the path of personal development which Cohen discusses in the essay.
Cohen has been a spiritual teacher for twenty years, and feels that he has learned an enormous amount about the human soul, something early on he had neither thought much about nor about which he had many preconceived beliefs or ideas. He states that his early emphasis as a spiritual teacher was on getting people to let go and transcend any and all notions of self, including even most of the ideas people might have had about their souls. But he gradually came to understand and appreciate that the spiritual path is as much about the development of the soul as it is about transcendence of the ego and conditioned mind. Today he often wonders: “Unless we have truly developed our own souls, are we ready or is it even appropriate for us to take that next step of transcending the mind? Unless we have developed our souls, will there be ANY SOLID GROUND from which to leap?”
He has concluded that the most important reason to do spiritual practice is to develop the soul. He believes that many humans naively assume our souls come fully developed, that our capacity for integrity, authenticity, transparency, conscience, goodness, and love is already there and just needs to be realized. Cohen feels that simply is not true. He argues that the SOUL–which he defines as our capacity for these deeply held positive human qualities–is something that, in most of us, desperately needs to be developed. He has observed that many humans live in a fractured state, deeply divided against themselves–often far more so than they are aware of or able to feel, and that they exist in a self-generated vacuum of moral ambiguity, where everything is relative and attention is focused mainly on our emotional state.
He feels that most humans know a lot more about what really matters than they are willing to live up to. Indeed, he says, “We are attracted to that which is beautiful, profound, and meaningful but find ourselves lacking the soul strength to really struggle, to engage in a life-and- death wrestling match with our own division, cynicism, and inertia. The awful truth is that it is just easier for us not to care that much.” In order to care that much, Cohen states, “We have to be willing to FEEL a connection with life that is so deep that it hurts. We have to be ready to step onto the field of our own experience in a way that is authentic, unconditional, and deeply committed–to embrace a kind of fearless vulnerability where our transparency is our strength and the living experience of connection is permanent, unbroken, and inescapable.”
Cohen tells his students that growth in soul strength results in increased spiritual strength, but no one can take this journey for you. I conclude with Cohen's last paragraph: “But once we have said yes to the noble task of soul cultivation, there is no turning back. Once we have said yes, we must succeed, because we have seen with our own eyes, felt with our own heart, and recognized with our own mind what integrity, authenticity, transparency, conscience, goodness, and love truly are: the only solid ground in the universe.”
I am reminded of both Tal and Frank.
I’m writing to thank Barbara and the Frank Waters Foundation for the wonderful experience that was given to me this summer. The residency program at the Foundation is truly invaluable for providing extraordinary surroundings and an environment of quietude.
These elements infused my creative thinking with a sense of space and meditative focus. While at the Waters Foundation I completed a composition for bouzouki and chamber ensemble titled “In Blue Spaces,” commissioned by bouzouki player Roger Landes of Taos. The title evokes the feeling I have at the Foundation of being a small part of the immense blue spaces of the high desert. Moreover, the piece synthesized for me ideas that have been creatively germinating over the past couple of years, and after revisiting the piece—having finished it four weeks ago, I am still committed to the work that I did in the cozy cabin at the Foundation.
Additionally, at the Frank Waters Foundation I made significant progress on a set of tunes. I was able to record the basic tracks for a number of songs that I hope to release on CD sometime in the next year.
I particularly enjoyed my discussions with you, Barbara, about Frank, your work, and the people that you and Frank have known. Of course, Cat was a wonderful companion for me while at the Foundation and I miss her company on the porch in the evenings. The experience as a whole was stimulating and calming, allowing space to work, breathe, read and listen. Particularly I rediscovered string quartets by Bartok and Beethoven, while familiarizing myself with works I didn't know by those composers and others. And from the front porch I spent time listening to (and recording) the birds.
As you may already know, one of my favorite all-time quotes that I have thought of often over the past 20 years is by the ragtime pianist Eubie Blake (which the Taos News also quoted in the article they graciously did on me). When asked how to succeed in life, he said: “Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind. Listen to the birds, and don’t hate nobody.” I've been waiting for 20 years to find or make space to listen to the birds and I was finally able to do this at the Waters Foundation. I am grateful for the luck that brought me to your doorstep.
I can’t imagine a more rich and fulfilling experience than the time that I spent at the Frank Waters Foundation. The environment lives within me even now and offers sustenance through my present daily tasks. I wish therefore to thank you, Frank, Magdalene Smith, and the Foundation Board for providing me with this incredible time.
by John Jauregui, MD [preface to a book in progress]
On a blistering July afternoon in the Grand Canyon, I had an experience that showed me something I’d always known but never really knew.
A few days earlier, my wife Ann and I and some close family and friends had put in at Lee’s Ferry, an old Mormon crossing just below Glen Canyon Dam. We were celebrating my 60th birthday with a rafting trip down the Colorado River. The river at Lee’s Ferry, from the bottom of Lake Powell, flows smooth, emerald green, and very cold. A little farther down it is joined by the Little Colorado, which, if it hasn’t been muddied by a monsoon squall, runs turquoise alongside the green until finally the two colors blend.
As the river works its way through three billion years of rock, the canyon walls grow taller and taller, eventually rising up from the water level in all their famous grandeur, like a cut-down through time. The sky is a ribbon of blue high above, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. But in summer the weather deep in the canyon is hotter than at the rim, even when it turns windy in the afternoon. Regular leaps into the clear, cold water – fifty-five degrees cold – are a necessary part of the day’s activities.
One morning we pulled over at Deer Creek on river right for one of several side canyon hikes and made our way up its leafy canyon, leaving the rafts far below. From a high overlook on our way back down, we saw that the river had changed completely. Somebody somewhere had made a decision to let more water out of the dam to flush the gorge, a lot more water, and now the river was rough and muddy, moving rocks and boulders as it roared along. In the next days we continued to jump into the current for our cool-off swims, but we had to be more watchful of hidden hazards and floating branches and brush.
Midway through our adventure, we stopped early one afternoon to camp just upstream from Crystal Falls. Crystal is a challenging rapids at any water level, and we wanted to gather ourselves to run it first thing the next morning. Everybody was tired and a little nervous, and the air temperature was unearthly hot.
I crashed out on my towel on a dune of dead white sand, as our resident meteorologist walked around measuring the ambient temperature and muttering. He was getting a reading of 134 degrees, but it could have been more, he pointed out, since that was as high as his thermometer went.
Maybe I dozed. I remember twisting around, trying to get more comfortable on my side. Ann, who had thrown a towel down next to me, tells me that I let go with a breathy “Look at that!” It was enough to bring her up out of her own dozy sleep to see what I had seen. She was guessing something scary or something big, like a scorpion, maybe, or a puma.
But it was only a clover plant growing in the sand not a foot away. Yet somehow my gaze had passed the clover. I was seeing the roots of this hardy plant – the action of the roots below the surface of the sterile, scorching sand.
“Look at this clover!” I said to her, but I had no more words than that. This awareness seemed to be coming from somewhere outside of ordinary time and place, from outside of language, and she was left to wonder what was happening. I had been thinking how hot it was there, how desolate this desert dune was, how nothing would ever grow here – when I saw the solitary plant somehow thriving, and it came to me in a rush that its tiny roots were drawing nutrients out of the arid sand.
This was not news to me really. I had studied plant biology in high school. But here in front of me I knew it for the first time. I saw that the underground root system was nothing less than the crucial link in the food chain. This little plant, which might be grazed later by a deer, was telling me that its roots were connecting mineral, vegetable, and animal. This little plant was the connection between the inorganic and the organic. More than that, it obliterated the distinction between inorganic and organic.
The next morning we ran Crystal like heroes and continued down the river, a storybook birthday trip. It’s easy to say that the Grand Canyon, taken slowly, changes a person. It’s gorgeous, severe, rapidly changing. But for me it was that one moment on the beach – so simple, so singular – that has stayed with me most strongly. This moment changed my life.
The modest clover has a message for this book – everything is alive and connected. Let me ask you to keep this message in mind as we consider what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong in Western medicine, and look at real live stories of real live people, including Andy and another miracle plant, his early-blooming orchid.
Aspen Below Kachina Peak
by Hugh Ogden
Below me in the plaza two-leggeds
dance like my leaves in the slightest
wind. They know that inside trust
is an ocean deeper than the grave,
more real than string theory, more
satisfying even than their feast.
When drumbeats carry them my leaves
tremble and the Pueblo. Their faith
in the earth vibrates with the un-
seen as torchlight and fire-circle
reach into dark corners, doorways
and over the dirt plaza shadowed
by vigas and roof-latillas where
everyone, even the old and crippled,
enters a sacred grove of friendship.
(from the new book, Turtle Island Tree Psalms)
by Barbara Waters
Condolences to Barbara Deloria, Susanne Loyd, and Alyce Frank for the loss of Vine, Harold, and Larry. They were intelligent, talented, beloved individuals. We are all diminished by their passing. We admire your courage in carrying on alone. But by now you may realize there is no true aloneness.
Paul Elwood, a composer and assistant professor of music at Brevard College, North Carolina, was our first resident this summer. Elsewhere in this issue he describes the experience. An expert banjo player, he entertained us after our board meeting on July 30. Susan Williams, a Tucson writer, followed Paul as resident. Her adventures here are recorded with photographs on her blog www.composted.blogspot.com. Regina Gilligan, an artist from northern California, will round out our 2006 schedule in October.
In July Andrea Turman of Nevada facilitated a memorial celebration here for Frank’s artist friend Robert Kostka. His ashes were scattered under an oak tree near part of Frank’s ashes. Another old friend, Alexander Blackburn, has presented the Foundation with a watercolor featuring the lovely site facing sacred Taos Mountain.
In June old friends gathered under the tall aspens above Frank’s memorial stone to honor his passing in 1995, and his continued presence in our lives. Creative, original writings were shared aloud. Those of Imogene and Nate Bolls appear in this newsletter.
Plans have begun for our second integral healing workshop to be held near the end of July 2007. Our first in 2005 was warmly received. Ann Jauregui, supported by the rest of our board, will direct this event. It will be a participatory experience dedicated to the healing spirit of Frank Waters’ birthday on July 25.
Although the Foundation will have nothing to do with the proposed one-semester high school, with our permission in honor of Frank educator Nick Tuff will name his new endeavor the Frank Waters Academy.
Ann Zwinger, naturalist and author, was honored with this year’s prestigious Frank Waters Award by the Friends of the Pike Peak Library District in Colorado Springs. She is the fifteenth noted recipient of this annual award, chosen for her lifetime achievements of writing about the natural history of the West and Southwest.
Frank’s friend Alan Kishbaugh, a California environmentalist, has created a fascinating literary manuscript from letters written between the two men from 1967 to 1995. It brings Frank alive again, for me, and firmly establishes significant dates for researchers.
Victor White’s fictional manuscript The Anthropologist and The Dark Madonna about the Virgin of Guadalupe miracle will be published in the next few months, thanks to years of diligent effort on the part of Dr. Chris Fletcher, Victor’s former student, and myself. Like his good friend Frank, Victor was born on July 25, 1902, but in Vienna.
The Foundation is still selling hardback ($40) and softbound ($20) copies of Rekindling the Inner Light featuring excellent papers written about Frank and color photos of those present at his centennial celebration in 2002. The foreword is written by Vine Deloria, Jr. and the introduction by John Nizalowski, Frank’s biographer. — B.W.
by Joe D. Kirkwood
in the clear pure water
of hot mountain springs
mind body spirit reconform
to the natural source of being
deep within the earth
water blood fire heat revive life
and the fractured division
between inside and outside heals
Leap Year At The Lake
by Imogene Bolls
This day I’d hardly have missed
had it been the 30th, the 31st,
the first of March, or even
if I’d really forgotten
and altogether missed it.
But like something odd, though
not completely unexpected—
a circus dwarf, a hair-lipped child,
a crimson birthmark—or a rare,
unpromised gift—an arrowhead lying right
at my toes in a furrowed field—
I take a closer look.
Knowing it isn’t a yearly given,
I stare at sequined riffles glittering
on the lake, the oak’s dark branches
holding icy light, at tenuous
claws of clinging leaves;
or into faces on the dock
shuttered by hoods and scarves
against the wind, wondering
(in fascination more than fear)
about those unlucky ones without
regular birthdays, or anniversaries,
or days to mourn the dead
they loved, whose death days skip
like stones across the years.
Please call, write, or email
for more information:
Frank Waters Foundation
PO Box 1127
Taos, NM 87571