Resident List & Notes

"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"

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Taos, New Mexico USA

 

 

 

                                                          

     List of Past Residents and their letters

 

 

                                          CHARLES BEHLEN -- Texas, Poet

 

                                    BARBARA “JAMILA” FITZGERALD -- Africa, Artist

 

                                    DAVID JONGEWARD -- Canada, Writer

 

                                    ANDREA LANNEN -- New York, Artist

 

                                    KIT LYNCH -- Illinois, Artist

 

                                    T0M MEYERS -- Texas, Doctoral Candidate

                                   

                                    HUGH OGDEN -- Connecticut, Poet

 

                                    LYNN STENZEL -- Colorado, Artist

 

                                    Carrie Fountain - Texas, poet, teacher and theater

 

                                    Jim Ciletti - Colorado Springs, poet, writer, 

                                                        Bookstore Owner            

                                    

 

 

                                                              

 

                                                       ANOTHER GIFT

                                                              by Hugh Ogden

 

The monsoons had not yet arrived in northern New Mexico and the early evening sky contained only a cluster of clouds over Taos Sacred Mountain as I drove my rented car up Route 150 to Arroyo Seco.  I was coming for the first time to the Frank Waters Foundation.  I knew only that I had a cabin for a month, that it was close to Pueblo land, and that I was arriving with the mishmash of a year’s teaching back in Connecticut that needed to be sorted through and put aside to allow for new poems.  I knew only that  I was coming to a primeval valley enclosed on two sides by mountains and facing out on mesas, high plains, and the gorge that I had first visited ten years before.

As I stood there on the cabin porch after removing my word processor, printer, and one piece of luggage from the car, I sensed the expansiveness and connection that was to be given me through July.  And the rhythms and landscape that I would carry with me back East.  Upon my return, sweltering in a heat wave while remembering the rain and coolness, the web of friendships that had unfolded in my month in Arroyo Seco, my struggles with the clawed darkness of my psyche in the poems written there, I fully realized the blessing of what I had been given: a month of solitude, bell-clear morning skies, and afternoon and evening storms that brought water and regeneration to the land and to me.

Arroyo Seco is a special place.  A whole mess of people from California and elsewhere have bought land and built houses back from El Salto Road, where the Foundation is located, thereby changing the textures and purity of underground streams. But a few working ranches, pastures, and hay fields remain.  When the air is quiet, you can still hear the old cattle and buffalo sounds, mingled with the snorting of horses, baying of donkeys, and screaming of peacocks.  How fortunate that Barbara Waters has placed some of the fifteen acres that her husband bought back in 1947 into a conservation easement.  And how visionary of her to have established this Foundation so that all kinds of artists might come here to do their work and be nourished.

I, for one, left with a sheaf of new poems about such things as firing pots in the old traditional ways of pueblo life as well as inner poems I long had been carrying, about victimhood and pain.  I worked and wrote at an old card table on the porch that looks down on an aspen-pole fence that stakes and separates a neighbor’s house from the studio.  Afternoons I sometimes left to go to book stores and talks, or to meet  friends on the Reservation or in town.   But for the most part I stayed on Foundation property, where I learned all the gullies in both the upper and lower pastures and marveled at the water flow -- the Acequia Madre, running off of the Rio Lucero on Taos Indian land, under El Salto Road, and even under the little Arroyo Seco creek all the way to the middle of the mesa where it divides and nurtures Foundation land.  Yes, I love protected land like this.  I treasure water.  And I’m thankful that there’s a refuge called the Frank Waters Foundation at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  

The challenge now is to complete more of their planned studios and to fund an adequate endowment that will allow for yearly upkeep and administration.  And quite a challenge it is.  If the blessings I received here are to be shared by others, and if Frank Waters’ legacy and Barbara Waters’ faith and vision are to be honored, support will have to be forthcoming from the Taos community as well as from those committed to the arts all over the world.  It’s a worthy challenge.  By meeting it, even in small ways, people will positively affect the quality of life of those who follow us, besides sustaining that crucial sacred spirit needed to make human culture and its relationship to earth more nourishing.

As I write this, I think of the Colorado granite boulder engraved with Frank’s words from The Man Who Killed the Deer.  I think of my creative friends in Taos: Soge, Bernadette, Imogene, Nate, Skip, Liz, Sally, John, Barbara, and so many others.  But most of all I think of how a Foundation such as this one in Arroyo Seco supports our effort to make an art that touches and enriches people’s lives.

(Hugh Ogden has written several books of poetry, including Natural Things and Gift.)

   

 

                "The Old Genesis"

                    by Hugh Ogden

                                    On the first night

                                    Day looked at Night and said

                                    I have a job to do and Night

                                    looked at Day and said,

                                    I’ll do my share.

 

                                    On the second night

                                    the stars came out and gathered

                                    around black holes and began

                                    to dance and when they had finished

                                    they threw lines to each other

                                    that became stories.

 

                                    On the third night

                                    water caressed land with her palms

                                    and land turned bowls to catch

                                    what fell from the skies

                                    and whatever land couldn’t catch

                                    seeped through rocks into seasons.

 

                                    On the fourth night

                                    what’a full and what’s empty

                                    struck a fierce streak from cloud to cloud

                                    until Streak grew tired:

                                    little pieces of light then swam

                                    to the shore, to cliffs and mountains.

 

                                    On the fifth night

                                    birds discovered they could return home

                                    by believing in stars

                                    and the iron in their minds,

                                    even when the sun wasn’t over their wings.

 

                                    On the sixth night

                                    deer and all the animals stopped grazing

                                    and lay down in fields

                                    and gave birth to their kind.

                                    Two leggeds came out of the earth and entered

                                    caves and lean-tos and sang songs to the children

                                    emerging from their bodies.

 

                                    On the seventh night

                                    Day rested and looked at Night and said,

                                    we seem different, we do different things

                                    but everything we have done is one.

 

       For Barbara On The Death of Ginger, Her Horse

 

 

                                    Earth, we gave you foot-paths

                                    and walked singing beside the mountain.

                                    We laughed together and in a wisp

 

                                    of dream you lay the ground for tomorrow.

                                    Barbara came and the morning

                                    and she placed a wild iris

 

                                    on the ear of Ginger who had returned

                                    to you, the magpies cackling

                                    and not yet plunging for her eyes.

 

                                    She knelt and put her hand on Ginger’s

                                    white forehead and you cradled

                                    her body and she heard hoof-beats.

 

                                                                                    Hugh Ogden

                                                                                    Frank Waters Foundation

                                                                                    June, 2000

 

 

 

Where Muses Lurk

Carrie Fountain

2003 Resident

                                                                      

            Praise and thanks to the Frank Waters Foundation for creating a quiet, beautiful space where artists can roll up their sleeves and wrestle with their work.

            Being alone is hard.  Writing is hard.  Waiting for the writing is hard.  It does not come to me as I imagine it comes to some: a vase of fresh cut flowers set every morning on some substantial oak table.  Hide in the corner until the words come, I say.  Pounce, I say.  Draw poems like blood into vials.  Sweat through it.  If one must suffer through one’s art, or at least suffer through one’s self to produce the art, there is hardly a better place to do it than at the Frank Waters Foundation in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.  After my two months there, I returned to Austin with a rough draft of a collection of poems tentatively titled Starting Small.

            First of all, and frankly, I was naïve.  I thought in the mountains the world would vanish and the muses would descend:  O little gold-tipped angels, O glorious poems.  The muses did not descend.  I thought my pettiness, my nervousness, my obsessions, would vanish.  No.  They were there all day, every day, even on the most beautiful days when the silence was so clear it was glassy.  Loneliness, too, was there.  The mountains caught fire, the silence was sometimes chilling, the season was often hot, and the world was the world in the mountains as much as in the city:  people suffer, no matter where you are.  There was a radio; I listened to it.  People suffer and others profit.  The earth grows sick, catches fire.  There is no escaping the world.

            However, in the mountains there was time.  Time:  the world’s purest commodity.  There was time to write, time to think, time to think about writing.  Read some, write some, think some, sleep.  Those were my days at the Frank Waters Foundation.  Eventually it became easier to be alone, eventually I felt my focus return, sharpening daily a knife.  The mornings were full of light; the evening sky was packed with stars.  That Darned Cat came around sometimes and rubbed himself against my leg and seemed satisfied.  Afternoons in August the rains arrived with thunder and the desert smelled like heaven.

            There was a road for walking.  There was a beautiful studio with a big table for writing, and a high bed for reading and sleeping.  There was a porch for sitting, looking, trying to be still and listen.  And there was Barbara!  Barbara Waters is the true gift of the Foundation.  Her presence is a calm one; her nature is generous, her spirit is immense.

            As for the day to day:  I wrote mostly mornings in July, mostly afternoons in August.  Sometimes I wrote at a coffee shop in town; sometimes I wrote late at night on the porch in the silence and darkness, sipping wine.  Most days I put in about six hours of writing, four of them honest.  I read furiously.  I finished many poems, started more than I figured I would.  I wrote a poem a day, every day, as soon as I woke up.  I grew to love El Salto Road, the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, Moby Dickens Bookshop, the aspens, the sunsets, the sky.

            I thank the Frank Waters Foundation for such a generous opportunity.

***

 October

                                                 and the room smells more and more

like something sweet

 

going slowly rotten.  Mornings they arrive

as a unit, wait alongside the building and scream

every profanity they can think of

 

into each other’s faces.  It is a great purging.

The bell rings and, silent, they file in:

 

monks.  O god I pray, O god

of the single file line I pray.  And always,

always someone needs something

 

almost immediately

 

Carrie Fountain is completing a three-year masters program, the prestigious James A. Michener Fellowship for Creative Writing, at the University of Texas.  Besides writing prize-winning poetry, she has been involved with teaching and the theater.  She recently completed a manuscript of poems that may be titled Starting Small.

 

 

Nurtured

Jim Ciletti 

2002 Resident

Project:  My novel in progress Leaves of Glass, is a story of a young man in search of himself.  Determined to find God, he enters a Jesuit novitiate.

            Outer World:  Although the outer world of the novel is based on the four years I spent in a Jesuit novitiate, my memory after forty years had slipped.  Fortunately, my friend and fellow ex-Jesuit John Palenchar had sent me one hundred letters he wrote to his family on a weekly basis for two years of our novitiate.  I was able to research and make a complete outline of the two year time line of the novel.  Anchored in this time line are significant experiences of the hero.  John’s letters had enough details about our daily activities to enable me to properly sequence the outer world of the character, which supports the inner journey.

            Inner World:  This was the most difficult challenge.  I knew my own story and my own growth curve during the two years of novitiate.  But I was not writing my story.  I was using my knowledge and experience and that of several other ex-Jesuits to create a composite character.  I wanted to create fiction, a novel, a universal “hero” story, not a biography.

            How lucky, or serendipitous, was my trip to the Taos library. I had forgotten my copy of Volger’s book The Writer’s Journey, which describes the twelve steps a “hero” experiences on the hero’s journey. The Taos library had one, and right there a few books away was Pearson’s book The Hero Within on archetypes, which I had also forgotten.  Bingo!  The research into the archetypes of the Innocent, Orphan, Martyr, Wanderer, Warrior, and Magician made clear to me the plot arc of growth my character had to experience.  This research opened the door to the boiler plate of the novel, the character’s inner journey.  With the inner journey of the character so clear in my mind, I was able to take up the writing of the story after writing much of it.  I developed a good fifty pages, the first three chapters, before I had to return home.

            Other Work:  My daily routine involved starting with a walk in the morning, journal writing, and then working on the novel.  By 1:00 p.m. my well was running dry.  After a lunch break I either made town trips to the library or worked on poems or other stories that needed polishing before I could submit them.

            I submitted a number of poems to magazines and sent out two stories.  This was very productive work for me because I usually have to go to my bookstore and do “business” stuff in the afternoon.  To have time to research and submit work was a pleasure that nurtured me and gave me time to get away from the novel, yet I could stay in the writing state.  This was a real bonus for me.  And already the magazine Venus Envy out of Taos will be publishing “When a Poem Wears Muddy Shoes,” which I re-wrote and shortened while at the cabin.  In Taos I participated in one poetry reading at Doc Martin’s and enjoyed another, the Dead Poets Night at Caffe Tazza.

                                                                                                                                     

 (Jim Ciletti, poet, writer, and instructor, owns the bookstore Hooked on Books in Colorado Springs with his wife, Mary.)

 

 

 

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