In a letter to a friend written at the peak of Virgo season, Anton Chekhov wrote: “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.” Wikipedia touts that he is “considered one of the greatest writers of all time,” Russian or otherwise. But he was never a student of the arts; he spent his days watching human beings fall apart and doing what he could to reverse the human condition, something that is temporary, painful, and disgusting to look at. I graduate this week and people are very curious about what I’m going to do with my dual degree in English and Russian. Most people assume graduate school is the immediate next step, but studying what, they ask?
The three winners of the 2022 McKinnon Poetry Contest hail from different hometowns and academic disciplines, but their poems all explore personal origins and their impact. The contest was coordinated by department head Diane Thiel, and winning poems were selected by faculty judges. In first place was senior Benjamin Tabáček with “Homesick;” second, freshman Ariel Menendez with “La Chicana;” and third, senior Indica Simpson with “Résumé.” The McKinnon Poetry Contest is an annual event involving cash prizes, which are awarded thanks to an $100,000 endowment from UNM alumna Karen McKinnon. Thiel praised her giving nature in an email.
The transit of several key planets into Aries this month — Jupiter, Venus and Mars — will precipitate a wealth of ideas and physical blessings. The sun remaining steadfast in Taurus until the end of the month should give flashes of inspiration some staying power, as Aries isn’t known for its follow-through. A Mercury retrograde will begin in Gemini on May 10, adding fuel to the Aries fire burning in the heavens. Beware of backwards movement, like reverting to old habits and communicating with those you’ve left behind. The reckless Ram running rampant across the sky will make this difficult. How will you manage? Read on for more specific advice.
April 28 marked a historic event for the University of New Mexico’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community with the official opening of the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center (colloquially pronounced as ay-perk). The ribbon-cutting ceremony boasted a large turnout of students, community members and notable guests. Although AAPIRC has been open for some time now, this marks one of the first large public events in the space with socializing and lots of tasty food. Farah Nousheen, the Associate Director of AAPIRC, led the ceremony, opening it with a series of warm welcomes.
For second-year Master of Fine Arts students, the juried graduate exhibition “Not Yet and Yet” has been more than just an opportunity to showcase their work at a museum; the exhibition, which opened on March 11 and consists of MFA and Graduate Art Association artwork, ushered students back into an in-person art world. Since they began their study at UNM amid quarantine in fall 2020, remote critiques and the inability to interface with their peers’ art directly made things difficult, according to GAA member and artist in the show Eleonora Edreva. “Some things are physical and you want to be there; you want to see it. Having the opportunity to show work together in person has been really wonderful.
More New Mexicans can now opt in to using renewable energy to power their homes after a year of rulemaking done by the Public Regulation Commission. The new Community Solar Rule will mandate that 30% of the electricity produced by shared solar facilities be distributed to low-income communities and the organizations that support them. Individuals who may benefit from this rule include those who qualify for Medicaid or food assistance programs. It also doesn’t limit solar energy options for those who rent the property they live on or for those who live in government-funded housing. Eligible service organizations may include places like homeless shelters or food pantries.
Kate Gale’s “The Loneliest Girl,” published earlier this year by the University of New Mexico Press, is a book of poems that address sexual violence and the interactions that enforce and encourage it. Gale adds softness and depth to the well-known myth of Medusa — the Gorgon who was transformed into a monster through a rape by Poseidon — rendering her as a vulnerable woman seeking healing. The best works in this collection are the short and sensory pieces, like “Medusa’s Cookbook,” which includes lines such as “cloves — an unopened flower bud/cinnamon — a spiraled brown quill.” These poems flesh out Medusa’s physical world, removing the mythic and aligning us with her as an individual.
The Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta brought crafters together at the Expo New Mexico Manuel Lujan Jr. Exhibit Complex from April 14-16. Eighteen different guilds were in attendance representing a variety of fiber art disciplines such as quilting, beadery, weaving, embroidering, lacemaking and more. Vendors sold their work, judges awarded prizes to spectacular pieces and guilds held demonstrations for those interested in picking up some new skills. Typically a biennial event, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the fiesta from being held in 2020. Event Director Elizabeth Whitehead expressed her excitement about having New Mexico’s fiber arts community gathered under one roof again.
April showers bring May flowers, or so they say. This month’s zodiac forecast, however, predicts sunny, breezy days ahead as Jupiter and Neptune, the planets of expansion and dreams respectively, will be traveling close together for the rest of the month, meeting their closest conjunction on April 12 for the first time since 1856. On a larger collective scale, this is a very powerful conjunction that may denote a more extreme shift in the general cultural atmosphere. This expansive dreamy energy will be further intensified when Venus, planet of love, beauty and creation (exalted in Pisces), conjuncts Neptune on April 27.
Darcy Barron, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico with a Ph.D. in physics, has research that’s taken her from the icy Midwest to the dry Atacama Desert of Chile, where she works with a team of collaborators twice a year to monitor the cosmic microwave background of the universe. Barron was recently awarded a Cottrell Scholar Award, which celebrates both her research and teaching achievements. The award, which maintains a three-tiered review process and a competitive 14 percent funding rate, will provide $100,000 over three years to support Barron’s research.