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The Nelson-Boswell Reading Series



La Sociedad para Las Artes organizes the Nelson-Boswell Reading Series, which hosts events for distinguished writers to share their work with the NMSU community. Named in honor of writers Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell, who began their teaching careers at New Mexico State University, the reading series offers students, faculty, and members of the community a chance to gather togther in the spirit of listening to and resonating with the creative language of stories.

Alongside distinguished visiting writers, our graduating MFA cohort are invted to share their thesis work at reading events, demonstrating their dedication to the craft of writing and storytelling. These events are held throughout the Spring and Fall semesters and take place at 7:30 PM on Fridays in the CMI Theater located inside of Milton Hall, unless otherwise noted. There is no fee for attending reading events, and all are welcome to join us for the occassion.

2023-2024 Directors: Anna Snider and Maxwell Griego

For a list of past readings, visit

2024 Schedule

All readings are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities’s Southwest and Border Studies Institute’s outreach fund.

Reading events are on Fridays at 7:30 pm in the CMI Theater in Milton Hall on the New Mexico State campus, unless otherwise noted.

January 19, 2024: Peter Turchi

Don't) Stop Me if You've Heard This... by Turchi, Peter

Peter Turchi - Trinity University Press

Peter Turchi has written and coedited several books on writing fiction, including Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic, A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, and (Don't) Stop Me if You've Heard This Before and Other Essays on Writing Fiction. His stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Story, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, and the Colorado Review, among other journals. He has received numerous accolades, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston.

MFA candidate in poetry, Josh Tise, will be reading from thesis works. 

February 2, 2024: CM Burroughs 

Master Suffering by CM BurroughsGeorgia Poetry Circuit Reading with C.M. Burroughs - Brenau UniversityCM Burroughs is Associate Professor of Poetry at Columbia College Chicago. She is the author of two collections: THE VITAL SYSTEM (Tupelo Press, 2012) and MASTER SUFFERING (Tupelo Press, 2020.) Burroughs has been awarded fellowships and grants from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Cave Canem Foundation. Burroughs' poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including Poetry magazine, Callaloo, jubilat, Ploughshares, VOLT, Best American Experimental Writing Anthology, and The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks.

MFA candidate in fiction, Maura Hehir, will be reading from thesis works. 

February 23, 2024: Anthony Sutton Particles of a Stranger Light PAPERBACK - Anthony Sutton : Small Press  Distribution

Toward A Nonhuman Poetics/In-Person 2023-301

Anthony Sutton is the author of Particles of a Stranger Light (Veliz Books, 2023). Sutton’s poetry has appeared in Grist, guesthouse, Gulf Coast, The Journal, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, Zone 3, the forthcoming anthology In the Tempered Dark: Contemporary Poets Transcending Elegy (Black Lawrence, 2024), and elsewhere. Sutton is an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor fellow in the University of Houston Literature and Creative Writing PhD program and teaches in the community for Grackle & Grackle. Sutton resides in Houston, Texas, on former Akokisas, Atakapa, Karankawa, and Sana land.

MFA candidate in fiction, Kathy Key-Tello, will be reading from thesis works. 

April 12, 2024: Ramona Emerson 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson: 9781641294812 | Books

Native American Media Alliance – Ramona Emerson

Ramona Emerson is a Diné writer and filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. After starting in forensic videography, she embarked upon a career as a photographer, writer, and editor. She is an Emmy nominee, a Sundance Native Lab Fellow, a Time-Warner Storyteller Fellow, a Tribeca All-Access Grantee and a WGBH Producer Fellow. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she and her husband, the producer Kelly Byars, run their production company Reel Indian Pictures. Shutter is her first novel.


MFA candidate in fiction, Grabriel Silva, will be reading from thesis works. 

April 26, 2024: Lisa Margonelli 


Lisa Margonelli is the author of Oil on the Brain, a national bestseller which the American Library Association named one of the 25 Notable Books of 2007. She has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Atlantic, Scientific American, National Geographic and Wired. She lives in Maine.


MFA candidate in poetry, Brita Sauer, will be reading from thesis works. 


Past Readers (Fall 2023)


Sept. 15, 2023: Carrie Grinstead



Carrie Grinstead is an NMSU graduate from the MFA program in fiction. Her debut collection of stories, “I Have Her Memories Now” was a recipient of the 2022 Howling Bird Press Fiction Book Prize. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dog. Her horse lives nearby. I Have Her Memories Now is her first book.


MFA candidate in fiction, Allison Page, will be reading from thesis works.



 Oct. 20, 2023: Beto O'Rourke


Beto O'Rourke is author of two nonfiction books including, "Dealing Death and Drugs" (2011) and "We've Got to Try" (2022). He is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Texas's 16th congressional district from 2013 to 2019.

This event will be held in the Center for the Arts building on the NMSU campus.


 Oct. 27, 2023: Bojan Louis and Sara Sams

sinking bell
Award-winning eco poets, Louis and Sams will be sharing work from their latest books. 

Bojan Louis is Diné of the Naakai Dine’é, born for the Áshííhí. He is the author of a book of poetry, "Currents," which received an American Book Award. He has been a resident at MacDowell and teaches creative writing at the University of Arizona. 



Sara Sams is a writer and translator from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She currently works as an Assistant Professor in the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing program. She is a graduate of Davidson College (B.A.) and Arizona State University (M.F.A.), and has received teaching fellowships from the Ministry of Education of Spain and the National University of Singapore.


Nov. 10, 2023: Cynthia Sylvester



Cynthia Sylvester is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and the University of New Mexico. She is an enrolled member of the Diné, born into the Kiyaa'áanii Clan for the Bilagáana Clan and a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her short stories and flash fiction have been published in ABQ in Print, Lunch Ticket, As Us Journal, Bosque – the magazine, Dimestories Anthology, Apricots and Tortillas – Anthology. She lives and works in Albuquerque NM.

MFA candidate in poetry, Kylie Martin, will be reading from thesis works.





History of La Sociedad para Las Artes

For more than 25 years, La Sociedad para las Artes has acted as the main outreach organization for the English department. Every year, the organization hosts free evening readings of national caliber, of readers who also offer manuscript consultation to graduate students and craft talks to high school students, undergraduates, graduate students and community members. Since 1996, La Sociedad para Las Artes has also offered the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, which supports our impoverished school system with one of the lowest literacy scores in the country. Finally, our annual Hunger Benefit, part of a nation-wide movement where writers coordinate reading events to raise money to fight hunger, has raised at least $45,000 for Casa de Peregrinos, a local food bank.

La Sociedad’s priorities are to interface with the school system and the community, helping to tear down boundaries between “town” and “gown.” As part of a major research university in one of the poorest counties in the country, La Sociedad seeks out opportunities to involve the English department locally, in order to increase public access to our university, making positive connections between all involved. These connections, benefiting the community as they do, also improve our university, since social responsiveness makes NMSU a more flexible, active organization, qualities that generate vital kinds of research.

Distinguished Visiting Writer Series

The cornerstone of La Sociedad’s activities, the Distinguished Visiting Writer Series (now the Nelson-Boswell Reading Series) began more than 30 years ago by now-retired faculty members, Joe Somoza and Keith Wilson. Since then, with a very modest budget, La Sociedad para Las Artes has provided NMSU, Las Cruces, and El Paso with a steady stream of the major contemporary regional, national, and international writers of our day, including Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo; National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Andrea Barrett; Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; MacArthur “Genius Grant” Award winners Ed Hirsh, Barrett, and David Foster Wallace; and Nobel Prize short-listed Chinese dissident poet Bei Dao. Other writers have received literature’s highest honors, serving as models and inspiration for our local audience: Tim O’Brien, Ana Castillo, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Denise Chavez, Larry Brown, Zhang Ur, Dagoberto Gilb, and others.

The effects of such a series are numerous. Students and non-students both learn that literature is a living thing, an active process that can be a part of a person’s life. The Distinguished Visiting Writers give lectures concerning the craft and process of writing, either in the public schools or on campus, and all are welcome. The topics range from the translation of Chinese poetry, the intricacies of dialogue in short stories, to the importance of landscape to literature today. During these lectures, people read work, think about the writing process and interact informally with the writers, asking questions long after the talk is over. The series remains responsive to the interests and needs of NMSU and the community in its scheduling, collaborating with Chicano Programs, the Languages and Linguistics Department, the Asian Studies program, Alma De Arte Charter School, the Border Book Festival and locally owned presses such as Zephyr Press and Lannan Award-winning Cinco Puntos Press.

Endowed Fund

We are seeking to establish a permanent endowed fund. This fund will be managed by the New Mexico State University Foundation, and earnings will support our many creative writing programs, including our visiting writers and reading series as well as creative writing workshops for the children in the Las Cruces Public Schools. Donations to La Sociedad Para Las Artes are gratefully accepted and tax deductible. Any checks should be made payable to NMSU Foundation and sent to the address below:

La Sociedad para Las Artes
New Mexico State University
Department of English, Box 3E
Las Cruces, NM 88003

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