University of New Mexico poet Tori Cárdenas loves writing, almost as much as she loves her dog. 

Cárdenas is a master of fine arts student and the poetry editor of “Writers Resist,” a feminist literary collective born of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. She has also worked her way up to become the editor in chief for Blue Mesa Review, UNM’s graduate student literary magazines, during the 2019-2020 school year.  

Cárdenas said that Blue Mesa is dedicated to showcasing authors and artists, especially in the southwest. She hopes to include more information about the mission and goals of the magazine for readers and artists to help people better understand the culture. 

According to Cárdenas, culture in the southwest  — and particularly in Albuquerque —  is extremely diverse. This is part of what brings out each artist’s unique essence. Cárdenas said there are so many different cultures all rolled into one and Blue Mesa captures this and aims to include an array of perspectives. 

Growing up in Taos, Cárdenas was immersed in the culture of the southwest. She said the memory of her mother reading to her contributed to sparking the motivation that got her to be where she is today. Learning to read and write when she has little opened up a whole new world for her to play in Cárdenas said.

Her advice to anyone who wants to start writing is to “let it be bad.” The creative process, according to Cárdenas, includes an incubation period — a time where the artist processes information about the project and sometimes includes taking in new experiences to help the writing process. 

While focusing on completing her MFA, Cárdenas spends time writing everything from poems and stories, teaching classes at UNM and feeding her dog Sophie “cookies,” Cárdenas' word for dog treats. 

Currently, Cárdenas is awaiting news about her submission to the 2019 Write Bloody Poetry Book Contest, funded by Write Bloody Publication, an independent poetry publishing company based in Los Angeles. 

“The prize is basically a book deal, which is crazy to say out loud,” Cárdenas, who is a finalist in the contest, said. 

Tori had many published works such as “Curandera,” a poem about a sick grandmother who is cured by the rituals of a curandera, a traditional healer in southwestern and Latin American culture.  

The poem was published in the “Taos Journal of Poetry and Art,” whose mission is to discover poetry, art, literary reviews and essays that raise the hair on the reader’s arms, and therefore their consciousness, according to their website. 

When asked what she wants to do post-MFA, Cárdenas said she wants to get back to her roots in Taos, maybe taking up beekeeping or managing an orchard back home. She hinted at opening up an oxygen orchard but stated that maybe it was just an idea for a new fiction story. 

Nevertheless, Cárdenas expressed a longing to take time for some rest and relaxation with her dog, Sophie.

Natty DeAnna is a freelance reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @deanna_natty