I had a nice surprise in my email this week. Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor society, will be holding its international convention this coming March in Albuquerque. The theme is “Borderlands and Enchantments.” My wife and I certainly find that New Mexico lives up to its enchanting sobriquet–so much so that we have attended the Taos Writing Workshop in the past, and spent this recent break in Taos and Santa Fe. Brenda was so excited that she got up early and snapped a sunrise among the adobes on Thanksgiving morning. We christened the day “Taosgiving,” and we were indeed thankful to be there!


Taosgiving Sunrise

So the setting for the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta conference is already very appealing. The keynote speakers will be some of the most prominent voices in contemporary Native American and South-Western American literature: Soto, Ortiz, Silko.  Those of you who have taken courses with me in Native American literature, Literature of the West/Great Plains, and Literature Across Borders know that we have explored the words and wisdom of these writers many times over. I’m so excited by the prospects of hearing them in person.

On top of all this, I was extremely pleased to learn that our chapter will be honored at the conference for 85 years of service! As you all know, we have a very active chapter here at CSC (just scroll through some of our earlier blog entries to see examples–of students presenting and attending recent conferences in Savannah and Portland, for example). I know that some of our students will be attending and presenting in Albuquerque as well, and we hope to be there to accept our recognition as an octogenarian chapter! You can find out more about the conference by visiting the Sigma Tau Delta conference page:


AND, as if these items were not enough, when scrolling through some of the conference materials, I happened upon an image of our very own Sarah Labor, who presented at last year’s conference, and who penned an award-winning entry for the conference blog. Check it out:


I’m so proud of our chapter and of the students who have represented their insights and talents on this prominent and international stage the past few years. The members of Sigma Tau Delta on our campus arrange and bring to fruition a number of wonderful events (chronicled in this blog space!)–and obviously participate on the national/international level–with very little direction or oversight from the faculty sponsors; they do this almost entirely on their own. I’m confident we will continue to have an ENCHANTING group of Sigma Tau Delta students representing our program brilliantly for years and years to come–and look forward to attending the 100th anniversary of our chapter’s inception. (Hey, it’s good to have a goal!)



Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. The weather for many of us was warm, and I’m sure the family, friends and food gathered around your respective tables was as well.

A couple of poems inspired by the holiday:


W. S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms 
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky 
and say thank you 
we are standing by the water thanking it 
smiling by the windows looking out 
in our directions 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging 
after funerals we are saying thank you 
after the news of the dead 
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you 
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators 
remembering wars and the police at the door 
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you 
in the banks we are saying thank you 
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us 
our lost feelings we are saying thank you 
with the forests falling faster than the minutes 
of our lives we are saying thank you 
with the words going out like cells of a brain 
with the cities growing over us 
we are saying thank you faster and faster 
with nobody listening we are saying thank you 
we are saying thank you and waving 
dark though it is


And another from Gary Snyder:

Prayer for the Great Family — (after a Mohawk Prayer)

Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare, and sweet

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root-hairs; standing still through wind
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self-complete, brave, and aware

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
our bodies salty seas

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–

in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space.
The Mind is his Wife

so be it.

-Gary Snyder