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Placitas History Project—Poets in Placitas

—Bob Gajkowski

“...I loved aspects of Spain... I frankly have the same sense of where I now am living. I can look out the window up into hills seven miles from where the Sandia Cave is located... I’m offered a scale, with mountains to the southeast, the Rio Grande coming through below us to the west, and then that wild range of mesa off to the west. This is a very basic place to live. The dimensions are of such size and of such curious eternity that they embarrass any assumption that man is the totality of all that is significant in life. The area offers a measure of persons that I find very relieving and much more securing to my nature... So locale is both a geographic term and the inner sense of being.” —Robert Creeley, August 1965, Placitas, NM, Linda Wagner, interviewer

In the mid-1960s, the small mountain village of Placitas just north of Albuquerque saw a literary wakening with arrival of poet Robert Creeley. Creeley had traveled the world with extended stops in Burma, then India, and the island of Mallorca, as well as San Francisco. Educated at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he moved to the West Coast and San Francisco where he met and became friends with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, two pioneers of the Beat Generation. In 1960, he received his Master of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico and began his academic career with a teaching position at the Albuquerque Academy.

In 1963, he moved with his partner Bobbie Louise Hawkins and their family to Placitas. At their several Placitas homes, the Creeleys often hosted prominent guests. In 1967, poet Allen Ginsberg gave a well-received reading at the University of New Mexico and with several friends retreated to Placitas and the Thunderbird Bar and the Creeley home to celebrate. Jack Kerouac visited as did the rock band The Frugs and their guitarist Steven Weber. Placitas residents Ed Dorn and his wife Jennifer as well as Latif Harris, another Village resident, were frequent guests at the Creeleys.

Placitas continues to be home to many distinguished poets including longtime resident Larry Goodell. On March 12, a program entitled, “The Literary History of Poets in Placitas” will be presented by Mr. Goodell and Professor John Roche beginning with “A Conversation with Larry Goodell.”

This conversation will set the scene for a walking tour of the Placitas village, during which Mr. Goodell will discuss his personal recollections of Robert Creeley, cowboy poet Kell Robertson, Ed Dorn, Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and others who had gravitated to Placitas during the 1960s and ‘70s. He will point out sites connected with these individuals and their work. Their readings or just their presence at the famed Thunderbird Bar, the draw of the locale’s seclusion, the history of this Spanish land grant and its people, and the counter-culture atmosphere of that time will each add flavor to the presentation.

The event will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Placitas Library Collin Room, followed by a short drive to the starting point of the quarter-mile walk.

At 3:00 p.m. Mr. Goodell will be featured at a Poetry Reading at the famous Silva’s Bar in Bernalillo. An Open-Mic session will follow. Participants are encouraged to read works of some of the poets (Creeley, Dorn, Gene Frumkin, Bill Pearlman, Kell Robertson, and others) who had performed at the Thunderbird or Silva’s Bar during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Admission to this event is free. It is co-sponsored by the Placitas History Project, the Duende Press of Placitas, and Jules’ Poetry Playhouse.

The Placitas Library is located at 453 Highway 165.


The Sunday Salon

—Anne Grey Frost, Placitas Community Library

“Now is the time to get your head back in the Cloud.”

Historically, salons were held in sumptuous rooms and led by voluptuous women in dazzling finery, to enlighten and amuse the patrons. This Salon is much more casual—no silk dressing gowns required. Although, if it amuses you to wear your smoking jacket and fez, do feel free to don them, we’re flexible.

In this second installment of the Sunday Salon, we will again be gathering to have a discussion of a selected topic—challenging, cultural, novel, or just fun. We will start by viewing a short TED Talk together. On this Salon, we will watch Sugata Mitra talking about his “Hole in the Wall” experiment in India, where a functioning computer was inserted in a ghetto wall with no explanation. What the children did will amaze you. This Salon’s topic was chosen by Bonnie Hayes, volunteer presenter, as a focus for the discussion.

Join us at the Placitas Community Library on March 6, at 2:00 p.m. The Sunday Salon is held every other month. If you have suggestions for topics, contact Marian at the Library.


Town, county await governor’s action on funding bills

Signpost Staff

While crime bills took center stage during the Legislature’s budget session, bills of interest to Sandoval County and Bernalillo maneuvered in the shadows.

At Signpost deadline, county and town officials were still assessing the outcome and waiting to see what Govenor Susana Martinez would sign or veto by the March 9 deadline for her taking action. The thirty-day session ended on February 18 amid concern the dramatic drop in tax revenue from oil and gas production may force adjustments in the current budget year and the next one beginning July 1.

Bernalillo’s top priority was $1.2 million dollars to add an arsenic-treatment system to the newly restored Well Number 2, east of the town. The capital-outlay bill, as passed, shows the project funded at one hundred thousand dollars.

Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert, R-Rio Rancho, and Senator John Sapien, D-Corrales, both represent Bernalillo and have requested $741,000 dollars for the well through the state Environment Department. It was not immediately clear if that funding survived.

While the well is still out of service, water pumped from the west side of the Rio Grande is filling the tank to provide a short-term backup supply should something happen to the pipe crossing the river.

Sandoval and Bernalillo counties were jointly requesting money to buy right-of-way for Paseo del Volcán, a proposed link between Interstate 40, west of Albuquerque, and U.S. Highway 550 on the north side of Rio Rancho. Legislation shows $948,000 dollars allocated for that purpose.

There are two separate capital-outlay bills with both supported by the sale of bonds. One set is repaid from general state revenues while the other pledges revenue from severance taxes on oil, gas, and other extractive industries.

A bill intended to end the piecemeal system of legislators partially funding individual public-works projects, and replace it with a statewide planning council, failed to pass.

The Signpost will have more on various projects, the bills introduced by local legislators, and the governor’s vetoes in the April edition.


Chavez to discuss Spain and United States independence

—Marian Frear

Spain’s contribution to the American Revolution has received very little attention in most written histories of the United States, but it played a key role in the outcome of the war. So argues Dr. Thomas Chávez who will speak on this subject at the Placitas Community Library on March 19, at 2:00 p.m.

While most of us know of Benjamin Franklin’s role as ambassador to France, charged with the task of gaining the French support that was critical to winning the war, fewer of us are aware that he also held the title of Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain, and that he corresponded with Spanish officials and intellectuals for more than a decade, although he never set foot in that country. These dealings, many of which were carried out in secret, resulted in Spanish support for United States independence, which came in the form of fighting, supplies, and money. After the war, in 1784, Franklin was elected an honorary member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History.

Franklin’s papers, archived in Spain, have become Dr. Chávez’s current project. His book, Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift treats on the subject of the Spanish contribution to the Revolutionary War. Dr. Chávez served as Director of the Palace of Governors Museum in Santa Fe for twenty years, and afterwards at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. He has published seven books, including New Mexico: Past and Future, An Illustrated History of New Mexico, Quest for Quivira: Spanish Explorers on the Great Plains, and Wake for a Fat Vicar: Father Juan Felipe Ortiz, Archbishop Lamy, and the New Mexican Catholic Church in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century, co-authored with Fray Angélico Chávez.

Dr. Chávez’s talk is sponsored by the Historical Society of New Mexico.

 
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