A recent feature in the New Mexican’s “Pasatiempo” asked 35 writers what classic New Mexican book had influenced them.
Joan and I have never discussed this, so the similarity was surprising–or maybe not, considering our long and fruitful literary partnerships.
“I read The House at Otowi Bridge (1960) by Peggy Pond Church when I first came to New Mexico. My profound takeaway was the idea or the insight that New Mexico is made up of many worlds that are in collision and connection with each other. The book is about Los Alamos, it’s about the bomb, it’s about a person who is sort of an outsider who brings other people together; it’s about the Colorado Plateau and the pueblos. All of that was completely fascinating to me. But it wasn’t just the subject matter, it was that sense of layers of the unseen and how things are connected to each other.”
Miriam Sagan’s most recent book is Black Rainbow (2015). She is the director of the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College and co-founder of Tres Chicas Press. She is currently finishing a nonfiction manuscript called 100 Cups of Coffee.
“When we first came to New Mexico 45 years ago, we lived in Nambé and hiked along the river, so I got The House at Otowi Bridge by Peggy Pond Church (1960), in which she talks about Edith Warner. I feel like it reflected something about being an outsider coming to this place. I love the idea that Warner was actually a bridge between the San Ildefonso people and the Los Alamos National Lab people. I feel like a lot of my life has been bridging cultures the best I can, by feeding people chocolate cake, as Edith Warner did.”
Joan Logghe is the former Santa Fe poet laureate and co-founder of Tres Chicas Press. Her books include Twenty Years in Bed With the Same Man (1995) and The Singing Bowl (2011)