The Nelson-Boswell Reading Series

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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 together 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 occasion.

2023 Directors: Anna Snider and Maxwell Griego

For a list of past readings, visit

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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