January 17, 2018

Discrimination is rampant, and working conditions are poor. Safety, pay, and class-war all threaten the future of one of the highest producing copper mines in the United States. Workers are pitted against owners, as the rich receive their keep and leave the bees to fend for the mighty Copper Queen Mine. This may sound like a recurrent story, and it is! For the town of Bisbee, Arizona, it’s actually a centennial of truths reenacted every July.

Such is the basis of Robert Greene’s new documentary film, Bisbee ’17, premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah:

It’s 2017 in Bisbee, Arizona, an old copper-mining town just miles from the Mexican border. The town’s close-knit community prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest hour: the infamous Bisbee Deportation of 1917, during which 1,200 striking miners were violently taken from their homes, banished to the middle of the desert, and left to die.

Townspeople confront this violent, misunderstood past by staging dramatic recreations of the escalating strike. These dramatized scenes are based on subjective versions of the story and “directed,” in a sense, by residents with conflicting views of the event. Deeply personal segments torn from family history build toward a massive restaging of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary.

Filmmaker Robert Greene confronts the current political predicaments of immigration, unionization, environmental damage, and corporate corruption with direct, haunting messages about solidarity and struggle. With consummate skill and his signature penchant for bending the boundaries of documentary, Greene artfully stirs up the ghosts of our past as a cautionary tale that speaks to our present.

But this isn’t the first time Bisbee’s secret has been told. In 1999, the Press re-released Robert Houston’s  Bisbee ’17, for which the new film takes its name. Houston, a novelist and professor emeritus in creative writing at the University of Arizona, vividly re-creates a West of miners and copper magnates, bindlestiffs and scissorbills, army officers, private detectives, and determined revolutionaries in his historical fiction novel.

The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled.

Against this backdrop runs the story of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, strike organizer from the East, caught between the worlds of her ex-husband—the Bisbee strike leader—and her new lover, an Italian anarchist from New York. As the tumultuous weeks of the strike unfold, she struggles to sort out what she really feels about both of them, and about the West itself.


Southwest Symposium 2018 Recap

January 9, 2018

The 16th Biennial Southwest Symposium was held in Denver, Colorado, this past weekend and celebrated the theme “Pushing Boundaries.” The symposium explored the formation and meaning of Bears Ears National Monument, new research in chronology and chronometry, Plains-Pueblo interactions, and new developments in museum archaeology and collections-based research.

UAP Senior Editor Allyson Carter was on the ground at the conference, manning the booth, meeting with authors, and presenting a joint publishing workshop. “It was a good conference,” she was pleased say, “the sessions were great, the papers were high-quality, everything was organized very well.”

A number of our authors were in attendance and made a special point of stopping by our booth to browse new titles and pose with their books:

From left to right: Authors Patricia Gilman, Michael Searcy, and Paul Minnis.
Matthew Peeples holding a copy of his forthcoming book for the first time.


What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Insights from Biosphere 2

January 4, 2018

Mark Nelson, one of the eight crew members locked in Biosphere 2 during its first closure experiment, offers a compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind the mini-world.  In his forthcoming book Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2, Nelson clears up common misconceptions as he presents the goals and results of the experiment and the project’s implications for today’s global environmental challenges.

On a winter night in January 1993, by opening a doorway we experienced a stunning physiological revival. We left a world with an oxygen level around 14 percent; equivalent to being on a 15,000-foot-tall mountain. In fact, we were at a 3,900-foot elevation in southern Arizona. Oxygen had been slowly disappearing for sixteen months. No one knew where it had gone. We were slowly climbing a mountain but going nowhere. Mission Control had pumped oxygen into a chamber on the other side of the door. Our atmosphere suddenly contained 26 percent, which was 5 percent higher than Earth’s air. In minutes, we felt decades younger. For the first time in many months, I heard the sound of running feet.

So many strange, disturbing, marvelous, powerful, and profound experiences unfolded during our two years as “biospherians.” The eight of us felt extraordinarily lucky to be the initial crew to live inside a miniature biosphere. We had to learn how to be its first natives.

Biosphere 1 (B1) is our Earth’s biosphere. Biosphere 2 was a three-acre world. B1 houses the global ecosystem, which includes all life. B1 is our planet’s life support system. Biosphere 2 was built to study how biospheres work, creating a laboratory for global ecological processes, to help ecology become an experimental science. It could also provide baseline information to design long-term life support systems for space.

The facility included people, farming, and technology. Earth’s biosphere has supported life for four billion years. Only quite recently have billions of people and modern industries been added. Living in Biosphere 2 might give new perspectives on whether—and how—harmony can be forged between humans and the global biosphere. Our two-year experiment began on September 26, 1991. We’d have two seasonal cycles to study how Biosphere 2 functioned. For comparison, a human spaceflight to explore Mars would also take two years. No one knew if we could stay inside for two years; so many things could go wrong. The facility was optimistically designed for a one-hundred-year operation.

The biospherian crew on closure day entering the front airlock, September 1991.

The first closure experiment was the “shake-down” mission; a trial run to find flaws, bugs, what we had to correct or change. We were also determined to collect as much data and to do as much research in collaboration with outside scientists as possible.

The odds, even from project insiders, heavily favored an early exit. Too many challenges—known and unknown—could end the experiment early. Some thought we wouldn’t even last three months. The world record in a closed ecological system was six months set by two-person crews at a Siberian research institute. Their basement facility powered by artificial lights was the size of a small apartment, their only companions were food crops. Our own sunshiny world contained a rainforest and a coral reef in a towering structure with seventy-five-foot-tall roofs. Every day we were able to stay alive inside, we would amass reams of research data.

We entered an untested facility in almost totally uncharted territory.

We included small chunks of Earth’s diversity inside the biosphere; bonsai rainforest, tropical grassland (savanna), desert, mangrove marsh, and coral reef ocean co-existed under one roof. Some of the world’s top ecologists and most innovative engineers worked to make this possible; no one knew how these biomes would develop. Ours was cutting-edge science, the greatest experiment in ecological self-organization ever conducted. To maintain biodiversity, we biospherians would intervene when we could. Our fog desert decided to go its own way and transformed during the experiment; maintaining the others took hard work and ingenuity, the coral reef in particular, was a nail-biter to the end.

In our nearly airtight world, we would experience the highs and lows of living intimately with seven other people. Outside politics and power struggles polarized and exacerbated in-fighting, though we entered as the best of friends and colleagues. I wouldn’t permit a bitter “To the traitors” as toastmaster at a Sunday night dinner where we enjoyed a precious bottle of home-brewed banana wine. There were no fistfights, but one crew member complained years later that she had been spit at. Twice. But we continued working unselfishly with one another. Whenever we feasted, partied, or enjoyed a rare delicacy like a cup of coffee from rainforest trees, tensions magically melted away. We’d relax and enjoy a temporary truce from group tensions. We acted mindfully in Biosphere 2, understanding that its teeming life was keeping us alive and healthy. We took care of her needs with tender loving care. She was our third lung and lifeboat. Some of us thought Biosphere 2 was the ninth biospherian.

Fish-eye lens photo of the Biosphere 2 farm. Photo by Abigail Alling, Biosphere 2, 1991-1993.

Eight Americans and Europeans suddenly became subsistence farmers. We lived off the land, eating what we grew, though we farmed in a high-tech, $150 million facility. Our small farm exceeded organic standards. We used nothing that might pollute our air, water, soils, or crops. We recycled our water and soil nutrients. Even our sewage was treated and recycled. We cared for our farm animals with affection, but they were slaughtered as needed. Our diet consisted primarily of fruits, grains, and vegetables.

We experienced hunger throughout the two years and plates were always licked clean. Almost all of us became much better cooks. Peer pressure for delicious food was a great motivator. I and many others ate our roasted peanuts whole, shell and all; we would eat anything to fill the stomach void. We were guinea pigs, the first humans extensively studied on an “undernourished but not malnourished” diet. This paralleled the pioneering research of Biosphere 2’s in-house doctor, who claimed a person could live 120 years on a calorie-restricted diet.

Periodically, project managers reminded us we were volunteers; the airlocks were unlocked, and we could leave anytime we’d had enough or if there were health dangers.

For safety, we had our resident doctor and a team of specialists on call at the nearby University of Arizona College of Medicine, and a fully equipped medical facility and analytic laboratory were inside the biosphere. Automated systems could detect potentially toxic substances in our air and water. We started with a biosphere as clean and unpolluted as possible. Chemical deodorants and cleaning supplies weren’t allowed because our world was so ensitive to pollution. Even a small fire would mean evacuating, so we didn’t light candles, even on a birthday cake. At winter parties, a monitor played a video of a wood-burning fireplace—we felt warmer sitting near it.

Though we didn’t intend it, the toes of dominant analytic, small-scale science were seriously stepped on. The reductionist approach seeks to analyze everything at the micro level, each variable being tested separately.  Biosphere 2 used both analytic and holistic science approaches. The project violated unspoken taboos. Include humans and our technologies in the experiment? Heresy! We knew one thing for certain: Biosphere 2 would ignite plenty of controversy.

Systems ecologists and veterans of NASA’s Apollo Project 1960s glory days were allies from the beginning. To achieve the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, NASA abandoned component-by- component testing and went to “all-up systems testing.” We followed a similar strategy to create this complex miniworld; it couldn’t be done piece by piece like Lego.

The six years from project conception until completion were exciting. Scientists, engineers, and hundreds of construction workers were very motivated. They were making history, doing the near impossible. Some doubted at every stage whether Biosphere 2 could be built, operated, or used for advancing human knowledge. Who were these mavericks behind the project?

Despite many world-class scientists and institutions consulting, the whole endeavor was way too ambitious, too daring. Even some friends and colleagues of the project thought it was fifty years ahead of its time.

Biosphere 2 was radical and revolutionary—a challenge to “business as usual.” The entire “technosphere” had one overarching goal: serve and protect life. Our engineers had to design technology to make waves, rain, winds; they had to control climate and mimic geological processes. And they had to use machinery and equipment that wouldn’t poison and pollute. Life ruled. Technology knew its place and obeyed and served, a radical notion. What would happen if we did that everywhere?

The engineering goal was about 1 percent per month air exchange (leakage) from the biosphere. That’s thousands of times tighter than the most tightly sealed buildings and homes, far tighter than even the International Space Station. But, if this air-tightness was achieved we might wind up with a horrific “sick building syndrome” from a buildup of trace gases. We needed a way to ensure that those trace gases didn’t build up in a structure with two acres of farm and wilderness areas, hundreds of pumps, motors, and other equipment, and miles of piping. Our solution was to use our farm soil and plants as a biofilter to clean the air. We hoped it would work.

Carbon dioxide was called the tiger of Biosphere 2. We continually monitored its levels in our atmosphere since it could destroy our world, and it would be difficult to keep the levels from rising too high. Every cycle goes hundreds to thousands of times faster than normal in a tightly sealed, small, and life-packed miniature biosphere. Our ocean and atmosphere were tiny compared to Earth’s; we had entered a time machine. Would all the life inside Biosphere 2—with us humans doing everything we could to help—be  sufficient to prevent a runaway rise in carbon dioxide, our tiny version of climate change? If CO2 levels got too high, our coral reef might die, all the plants (including our food crops) might slow their growth, and our health might be directly threatened.

By closing the airlock behind us and starting our two-year experiment, we pushed the limits and stepped into the unknown. It would be a roller coaster, with despair and sadness and euphoria and achievement. Every day, we worked to keep Biosphere 2—and ourselves—alive and healthy. For the eight of us, it was a profoundly personal and life-changing journey.

The author carrying fodder, sorghum stems after a grain harvest. Photo by Abigail Alling, Biosphere 2, 1991-1993.

Dr. Mark Nelson was a member of the eight-person “biospherian” crew for the first two-year closure experiment. He is a founding director and the chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics and has worked for decades in closed ecological system research, ecological engineering, the restoration of damaged ecosystems, desert agriculture and orchardry, and wastewater recycling. He is the author of The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time and co-author of Space Biospheres and Life Under Glass: The Inside Story of Biosphere 2.

Seven Questions with Mystery Writer Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

December 20, 2017

In just a few short months, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s latest mystery Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch hits bookstores. The fourth book in the Sadie Walela Mystery Series draws Sadie deeper and deeper into danger. When Angus Clyborn’s Buffalo Ranch opens in Cherokee Country, murder, thievery, and a missing white buffalo calf take Sadie Walela and her wolfdog on a dangerous and wild ride.

In anticipation of the book’s release, we were excited to chat with Sara about what drew her to mystery novels and to get her thoughts on the lack of Native American representation in mystery writing. 

What advice would you give any aspiring mystery novel writers?

To read, first, and then write, write, write, with a passion. Write what you’d like to read. Don’t try to copy or emulate other writers; create your own voice and tell your own stories. Chances are, if you like what you write, other people will, too.

What drew you to writing mystery novels?

I spent twenty‐one years working in the banking business and had very little time for reading. But when I discovered Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, that all changed. I loved how he wrote mysteries and wove in Navajo and Hopi culture. Even though Tony was non‐Indian, he wrote with such accuracy and respect for Indians that the Navajo Nation gave him their blessing. That’s when I decided I wanted to write mysteries about my people – the Cherokee.

Why do you think there is so little Native American representation in mystery writing?

I think it is simply a case of numbers. Native Americans, who once totally populated this country, have sadly been reduced to about two percent of the population. And, while there are many Native authors, they write in diverse categories from fiction and non‐fiction, both current and historical, to screenplays and poetry. When you boil it down, there’s only a few of us writing mysteries.

You draw upon your upbringing in Oklahoma for your setting. What are the differences between the Cherokee Nation you grew up in and the one you describe in your novels?

It is very much the same. I like to write in a current day setting rather than historical, because I want to dispel some of the myths of what life is like in the Cherokee Nation today. We do not live in teepees. Never did, never will. Cherokees are ranchers, police officers, lawyers, small‐business owners, bankers, business people, writers, and anything else you can think of. I try to describe a real life setting in my books.

Which of your characters do you identify with the most?

Probably Sadie. We both think we can save the world, are quick to speak our mind, and hand out our own kind of justice. Sadie is a good and honest person, and I’d like to think I am, too, even though I’m quick to point out that Sadie is not me. I would be naïve to think most of the other characters I write about don’t have a sliver of my personality in there somewhere.

Is there more in store for Sadie Walela?

I hope so. I’m waiting for her to come to me in a dream and tell me what’s next. We’ll see.

What book are you currently reading?

I recently read Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann and Anne Hillerman’s Song of the Lion. I’m currently reading Winter’s Child by Margaret Coel. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson is next on my list to read.

Cover photo: The American Bison by Adam Cocke

Capturing the Singular Beauty of Bears Ears Country

December 15, 2017

Rebecca Robinson is a freelance journalist who has spent decades exploring the landscapes of Bears Ears country. Today she speaks to the singular beauty of the region captured by photographer Stephen E. Strom in his forthcoming book Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land.

Should an eighth wonder of the world ever be proclaimed, a strong case could be made for the landscape of southeastern Utah, a region so striking it has become a visual shorthand for the wild majesty of the American West. Visitors to Utah’s portion of the Four Corners region find themselves mesmerized by its endless ridges, buttes, spires, natural bridges, and exquisite canyons—each one, like a sandstone fingerprint, completely unique. The vivid vermillion hues that define the region’s red-rock country are complemented by softer, cream-colored layers and the subtle green of sagebrush, whose ubiquity and resilience testify to stubborn survival in a harsh land. This vast terrain bears scars as well: of explosive emergence and tectonic shifts that shaped Earth into otherworldly formations of stark cinder cones, rainbow bentonite hills, and impossibly steep anticlines. These landmarks, formed millions of years ago, painted and sculpted by water and wind, provide a visible record of deep time.

Evidence of the prehistoric abounds in the region. Fossils of plant and marine life, along with those of early amphibians and mammals, inspire awe in visitors and scholars alike. The stories of eons past, preserved within the layered landscape, illuminate how life on the Colorado Plateau—of which Bears Ears is a part—evolved and adapted to the land’s slow march northward from the equator as it endured radical shifts in climate and inundations by oceans and inland seas. Today’s rich and diverse assemblage of plant and animal life is as fragile as it is tenacious. Each patch of lichen, herd of mule deer, and field of sagebrush plays a vital role in a delicately balanced ecosystem in which Nature’s rhythms must be respected to ensure their survival.

Talk to people who know and love this landscape, and you’ll quickly discover that it’s impossible for them to describe a favorite canyon, trail, or vista without a touch of reverence. Sometimes they will point, tracing the path of a raptor or the meanders of a river. Some will subconsciously place their hands over their heart, an unspoken expression of deep love for a land that lives within them—and, in some cases, changed them forever.

This land of rugged beauty and rich history is Bears Ears, a new national monument declared by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016. Named for twin buttes visible for sixty miles in all directions, Bears Ears National Monument protects an area spanning 1,350,000 acres—more than 2,000 square miles; larger than the state of Delaware.

The movement to protect Bears Ears is the product of a unique moment in time, the result of an unprecedented effort by Native American tribes and a powerful endorsement of tribal sovereignty by a receptive U.S. President. At the same time, it is yet another chapter in America’s long history of conflicts over how best to protect and steward public lands. Similar debates predate it, and similar struggles will succeed it. Taken together, these debates and attempts to resolve them speak to the ongoing search for common ground in deeply divided communities. But therein lies a sense of hope for the future: Polarized as each group is, they collectively express the same belief that the land is everything and not just a place to live in, explore, or make a living. The land is a source of strength, renewal, and identity to all who call Bears Ears country home. Natives and Anglos in San Juan County, regardless of their spiritual beliefs or world view, have used the same words to explain their connection to Bears Ears: “The land is who we are.”

What both the land and people of Bears Ears country yearn for is healing: between the tribes and the federal government; among the region’s tribes who share histories of bitter conflict; among the tribes and residents of San Juan County—Native and Anglo, Mormon and non-Mormon, staunch supporters and steadfast opponents of the national monument; and of the land, protecting an eighth wonder of the world from efforts to exploit its riches for private financial gain.

In many ways, San Juan County’s challenge to find common ground and common purpose mirror those of the nation as a whole. True healing can only be achieved through collective listening, respect, compassion, and leadership and acknowledging that past wounds—including military action—inflicted by the federal government on both Native Americans and the Mormon people are many and, in some cases, shared. The future will depend on the courage of all to speak truths, to commit to hear and respect all voices, and to seek mutual understanding that will allow citizens to create a just and sustainable future that benefits all.

In Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land Stephen E. Strom’s photographs capture the singular beauty of Bears Ears country in all seasons, its textural subtleties portrayed alongside the drama of expansive landscapes and skies, deep canyons, mystifying spires, and towering mesas. To Strom’s alert and sensitive eyes, a scrub oak on a hillside or a pattern in windswept sand is as essential to capturing the spirit of the landscape as the region’s most iconic vistas. In seeing red-rock country through his lens, viewers can begin to discover the rich beauty, remarkable diversity, seductive power, and disarming complexity that embody Bears Ears National Monument’s sacred lands.

Years from now, these images may serve as either a celebration of the foresight of visionary leaders, from President Teddy Roosevelt’s original vision of national monuments for America to the recent vision of tribal leaders and President Obama, or, should President Trump and his allies rescind the Bears Ears National Monument declaration, as an elegy for what was lost—for the tribes and for future generations of Americans.



Rebecca Robinson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and makes her home in Portland, Oregon. Her journalism work has been widely published and broadcast in numerous print, online, and radio outlets, and she has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Alliance for Women in Media, and the Associated Press.

Through twenty individual stories, her forthcoming book Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land (Fall 2018) captures the passions of the debate that led to the creation of Bears Ears National Monument, a land of unsurpassed natural beauty and deep historical significance. She continues to capture the passions of those on opposing sides of the Bears Ears battle with weekly online updates.

Stephen E. Strom was born in New York City. After receiving his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University, he spent forty-five years as a distinguished research astronomer. He began photographing in 1978, and his work has been exhibited widely throughout the U.S. and is in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.


Photos courtesy Stephen E. Strom

AAA 2017 Recap

December 13, 2017

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.! We always love meeting our authors face-to-face, and a few folks were kind enough to allow us to take their photos in the booth:

Michelle A. Lelièvre and Jennifer P. Mathews
Virginia D. Nazarea and UAP senior editor Allyson Carter
Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and Josiah Heyman
Jim Igoe and Georgina Drew
Anthony K. Webster and Paul V. Kroskrity

We look forward to seeing you all next year in San Jose!

On Archaeology and Social Identities in the Ancient Past

December 12, 2017

Archaeologist Matthew A. Peeples has spent more than a decade working at sites across the Southwest. In his forthcoming book Connected Communities, Peeples looks to comparative social sciences and contemporary social movements to understand how social identities formed and changed in the ancient past. Today, he shares with us the inspiration behind his new book.

“Who were the people who lived here?”

I often hear this question when I give site tours for the public or conduct fieldwork in places where locals might pay a visit. It is a question that probably sounds simple and straightforward to the person asking it.

To an archaeologist like me who has spent a lot of time thinking about how social groups form and change, this question opens the door to all kinds of complexity. If I suspect that my visitor is looking for a quick answer—or if we have a looming project deadline—I may give her the short and way-too-simple version. This usually means providing the typical archaeological cultural or regional designation (“they were Ancestral Pueblo people” or “they were Hohokam people” or “they were the ancestors of people living at Zuni today”). If I am feeling a bit more inspired—or looking for an opportunity to have a longer conversation in the shade—I may go into the particular social and demographic histories, describing archaeological evidence for migration streams or material evidence for how the nature and scale of families, communities, or larger social groups changed through time.

In my experience, the long answer to this deceptively simple question resonates quite well with members of the public and archaeologists alike, provided that I can find a clear and compelling way to describe interesting patterns and processes in the data.

In an effort to come up with better ways of explaining the complexities inherent in social group identities, how they change, and how we study that process archaeologically, I have often found it useful to rely on analogy with contemporary events and institutions. Most people living in the world of nation-states and borders have a good sense of what it means to have multiple and nested identities. When I turn the tables and ask my inquisitive visitors “who are you?” I find that they seldom stop at one or two labels and often rattle off quite a few. These might include their nationality, state/territory/city/neighborhood of residence or birth, ethnic heritage, familial ties, religion, occupation, or many other designations. Importantly, some of these designations are based on their own direct relationships, while others link them to groups much larger than they could ever hope to know personally.

In the United States, where I do my research, most people are well acquainted with the metaphor of the “American melting pot”—the romanticized notion of how the diverse populations that make up the nation came to represent a coherent whole—and they probably also have some notion of the diversity of people living in the United States through its ethnic neighborhoods and the waves of immigration that shaped such places.

Such contemporary examples make it much easier to explain how archaeologists document similar migration streams, identify socially diverse communities or enclaves, and track the ways people marked or masked differences in the past. We see archaeological evidence of the same historical processes that drive the formation, maintenance, or dissolution of social groups in the world today. Identity is a complicated tapestry for us, and there is no compelling reason to believe it was less so in the past.

Conversations with the public like these brought me to the research for my book Connected Communities. Since I first started studying archaeology, I have been interested in understanding how people form very large social groups, especially those that are so large that they include people who will probably never meet. Searching for analogues and new perspectives on such large-scale social groups, I turned to a body of literature focused on nationalism, ethnic identity, and the drivers of social change in the contemporary world. This work suggests that the formation of social groups and the process of social change are intrinsically linked, and, importantly, researchers working from this perspective have developed tools and theoretical frameworks for exploring such relationships (i.e., social network analysis). The more I read, the more the underlying processes and mechanisms at work felt familiar to me as an archaeologist studying social change at regional scales in the ancient Southwest.

At the same time, and somewhat to my dismay, I found that researchers working within this paradigm from a contemporary perspective often made assumptions about the supposed absence of certain kinds of identities and interactions in premodern societies that are, to my mind, unfounded. Still, I considered that the methods and models used to untangle the complicated web of identities in the contemporary world might have some utility for exploring social groups in the more distant past through archaeological evidence.

Might such models push us toward new and interesting revelations about identity and social change in the past? Could archaeologists contribute to the broader debate in the social sciences by expanding the scope of such frameworks to kinds of societies that have not yet been considered or by using new kinds of evidence? I hope to take the first steps toward addressing these important questions in my work.

Matthew A. Peeples is an assistant professor of anthropology and the research director of the Center for Archaeology and Society in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.

Poetry Magazine: The Unsung Passion of Ray Gonzalez

December 8, 2017

This month, Poetry Magazine featured a touching guest post from Roy G. Guzmán, who took the opportunity to celebrate the immense literary contributions and impact of Camino del Sol poet Ray Gonzalez:

Through Gonzalez’s poetry I’ve discovered the various syntaxes that run through my own linguistic DNA. Through him I’ve discovered how to deploy my metaphors and when to reveal my silences (“Beware the silence stronger than the voice,” he writes in “Beware the Silence,” included in Human Crying Daisies (2003)). Like his personality—measured, as if ticking like a clock, and with an appetite for tactful wit—Gonzalez’s poem-tellers can be shy but, when allowed to speak, can verbalize truths with the swiftness of a lizard. In “What Lesson?” for instance, the speaker asks, “What were the questions our mothers asked? Who did they make love to before our fathers arrived with newspapers and torn wills and deeds?” Gonzalez has the associative skill and patience of James Wright, and that gift of surprise you find in Russell Edson’s best work. He knows when to walk into a poem and when to walk away, leaving everything around haunted.

Read the full feature on Poetry Magazine.

Library Legends Honor for Ofelia Zepeda

December 6, 2017

Clockwise: Shan Sutton, Ofelia Zepeda, along with previous honorees, John P. Schaefer, Helen Schaefer, and James S. Griffith

The University of Arizona Libraries named poet, scholar, and Sun Tracks Series Editor Ofelia Zepeda this year’s Library Legend. The Libraries feted Zepeda with a dinner at the Arizona Inn last month, where friends and colleagues gathered to recognize Zepeda’s lifetime contributions to letters, learning, and libraries.

Shan Sutton, Dean of Libraries, said of Zepeda, “When I think of Ofelia Zepeda, I am most impressed with her ability to transcend time. She seems to blend past and present seamlessly, summoning historical Tohono O’odham wisdom to provide context for her astute observations of life today.”

Among her many honors, Zepeda is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and she is the author of two acclaimed collections of poetry and a guide to Tohono O’odham grammar, proudly published by the University of Arizona Press.

From left: Kathryn Conrad, Ofelia Zepeda, and Felipe Molina

Kathryn Conrad, Director of the University of the Arizona Press, said, “I am awed and gratified by Ofelia’s vision to preserve language and culture through bilingual literature, poetry, stories and songs. For her deft leadership, her sound editorial judgement and her ability to see into the future, we owe Ofelia a deep debt of gratitude. Ofelia, thank you.”

Previous Library Legend honorees include University of Arizona Press authors and supporters Bernard L. “Bunny” Fontana, Jim Griffiths, and John and Helen Schaefer.

For this year’s event, Zepeda read her poem “The Way to Leave your Illness,” which shares the poet’s recognition and gratitude for the important and healing work of libraries and learning.

From left: Karen Frances-Begay, Ofelia Zepeda, Regina Siquieros, and Bernard Siquieros

The Way to Leave Your Illness
By Ofelia Zepeda

If you have an illness that won’t go away,
take a journey.
When you get there, leave it.
Place it on a rock; throw it into moving water;
bury it. Throw it into the wind.
Let it go.
Leave it there for others.
She had been sick for many days.

From left: Kristen Buckles and Katherine G. Morrissey

In her frustration she remembered
what her grandmother used to say,
“Take it far away and leave it there.”
She walked to the other end of campus
toward the library.
In her mind she left the discomfort, ache, pain, there.
She walked back, comforted,
knowing she didn’t bring it back with her.
Her illness is now hidden in the stacks.
Perhaps it is temporarily in periodicals.
Or archived in Special Collections.
or perhaps in fiction, no longer real.

From Where Clouds are Formed copyright 2008 Ofelia Zepeda

Books from the Sun Tracks series, which launched in 1972. Ofelia Zepeda has served as series editor since 1992.


Tucson Weekly: A Conversation with Tucson author Tom Miller

December 4, 2017

In case you missed it, an excerpt from Tom Miller’s Cuba, Hot and Cold donned the cover of the Tucson Weekly this past week. The feature story was accompanied by a Q&A between Tucson Weekly Managing Editor Jim Nintzel and Tom Miller, in which nothing was off the table. The two discussed how the CIA recruited Miller for a spy, his work in the underground press, and being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury for some of his work:

Cuba, Hot and Coldis an intimate look at Cuba and the people who live there. What do you hope people take away from this book?

When the U.S. and Cuba finally came to their senses and established this sort of detante, everybody said: “I gotta get there. I gotta get there before it changes. What I want them to take from the book is: You don’t have to get there before it changes. It’s gonna keep changing for the next five, 10, 20, 30 years. When people say they want to get there before it changes, they’re really saying they want to get there before McDonald’s gets there. But the changes have already taken place, and they’re going to continue to take place. I think that people who are so eager to get there are making a mistake. They can take their time and read up on it and enjoy it when they go.

You’ve been traveling to Cuba for 30 years now—what first drew you there?

It was partly political and partly journalistic. The journalistic part was that Cuba was and still is the best story in the Americas. And also political: I was part of the anti-war movement, and we would read underground newspapers not just from around the United States, but we would read Gramma, which was the communist party newspaper in Cuba. It was a terrible newspaper. It still is; it is an awful newspaper. But it tells you what is going on there. It tells you who is in charge and what their politics are. And in the anti-war movement, there was always a spot for Cuba at the table. It was at the far end of the table, but there was a spot for Cuba at the table. And because of the taboo, because of the embargo, it became more and more tempting to go.

Read the full feature Q&A and an excerpt of the book on the Tucson Weekly.

Kirkus: Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch

November 28, 2017

We’re nearly three months out from the much-anticipated release of Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s fourth book in the Sadie Walela Mystery Series, Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch. This morning, Kirkus released their review, which is set to hit newsstands December 15, 2017:

Arrogance and greed add up to a powerful motive for murder.

Travel agent Sadie Walela, who lives on a small country property with Sonny, her wolfdog, returns from a funeral to find her boyfriend, Deputy Lance Smith, at the scene of a nearby murder. The dead man, who was killed by a handmade arrow, is said to have been acquainted with ranch owner Angus Clyborn, but Clyborn, a newcomer, denies knowing him. An animal rights group is picketing Clyborn’s Buffalo Ranch, which is stocked with tame buffalo, elk, and other animals he intends to charge big bucks for rich trophy hunters to shoot. After Sadie witnesses the birth of a white buffalo calf on Clyborn’s property, she knows trouble is on the way should word get out a sacred animal was born there.

Read the full review online on Kirkus.

Richard Shelton Honored by 2017 NM–AZ Book Awards

November 21, 2017

Authors, book lovers, and publishers from Arizona and New Mexico gathered last week to celebrate the 2017 winners of the New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards. We’re thrilled to announce that Richard Shelton won the Best Biography – Arizona Subject award for his book Nobody Rich or Famous.

In this book, Shelton crafts a tale of poverty and its attendant sorrows: alcoholism, neglect, and abuse. But the tenacity of the human spirit shines through. This is an epic tale of Steinbeckian proportions, but it is not fiction. This is memoir in its finest tradition, illuminating today’s cultural chasm between the haves and have-nots. In the author’s words, Nobody Rich or Famous is “the story of a family and how it got that way.”

2017 marks the twelfth consecutive year of the New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards, which are sponsored by the New Mexico Book Co-op. To see the complete list of honorees, please visit the organization’s website. Congratulations to all the winners!



Frederick Aldama Featured at American Book Review Reading Series

November 20, 2017

Frederick Aldama reads from his flash fiction collection Long Stories Cut Short.

This past week, Frederick Luis Aldama had the pleasure of taking part in the American Book Review’s Reading Series, hosted by the University of Houston-Victoria.

Aldama’s visit included a public reading and discussion of his short fiction collection Long Stories Cut Short, a roundtable discussion with UHV faculty and students, and a week-long residency on the campus.


New York Times: Already My Lips Were Luminous

November 19, 2017

Terrance Hayes, current poetry editor for New York Times Magazine, selected Vickie Vértiz’s poem “Already My Lips Were Luminous” from her debut poetry collection Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut for the featured poem in this Sunday’s issue.

“I do not know the language of that place” underscores this poem’s striking balance of ambiguity and mystery. Much is said in the white spaces, caesuras, breaks. The unpunctuated five lines of the first stanza unspool suggestively creepily. The hands in car guts have a visceral intensity. The halting final couplet prompts a pause, a silence, a reread.

Read the full feature on the New York Times.

High Country News: Map of Language Charted by Diné Philosophy

November 13, 2017

High Country News caught up with Esther Belin just outside of her office at the Peaceful Spirit Treatment Center on the Southern Ute Reservation to discuss her latest book Of Cartography:

Her new book, Of Cartography, is framed by the four cardinal directions and their symbolism in Navajo history. It digs into the cultural and physical representation of Navajo language, how landscape shapes identity and what it means to be Indian.

Her poems try to capture the rhythm and storytelling intrinsic to the Diné language. “I wanted to investigate whether there was a Navajo meter or diction, and how that voice could come out,” she says. “It’s not just a collection of poems squeezed together. This was about pairing identity politics with Navajo philosophy, which is all very orderly, and then telling my story through the structure.”

Read the full feature interview on High Country News.

Celebrating Tom Miller and Cuba, Hot & Cold

November 13, 2017

Tom Miller recounts the day he accompanied Mariel Hemingway along the so-called “Hemingway trail.”

Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting a special celebration in honor of travel writer Tom Miller and the release of his latest book Cuba, Hot and Cold.

The event capped off University Press Week and was the latest in a series of collaborations with the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections, who holds Tom Miller’s papers in their archives.

UA Libraries Dean Shan Sutton stresses the importance of the work University Presses publish.

Nearly a hundred members of the Tucson community came out for the occasion and were treated to touching tributes from Miller’s long-time friends, James Reel and Eliana Rivero, as well as a taste of Cuban music from pianist Liudvik Luis Cutiño Cruz.

A brilliant raconteur and expert on Cuba, Miller was full of enthralling behind-the-scenes stories, including a humorous tale of the day Havana cops accused him of distributing copies of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration of 1948.

Thanks to the University of Arizona Libraries team, we’re proud to provide a full video of the event below.

Photos courtesy Tim Fuller

High Country News: In Line at the Great Wall

November 13, 2017

Author, poet, and Angeleno, Daniel A. Olivas is known for his provocative prose and cleverly crafted characters. Recently, High Country News featured an excerpt from his short story “In Line at the Great Wall,”  from his collection The King of Lighting Fixtures. In this story, Olivas imagines a future where anti-immigrant sentiment is enshrined in a border wall:

Rogelio stood in the long line that snaked from the detention center’s barracks to the lookout point at the other end of the compound. He shifted from foot to foot, the heat making him perspire and feel lightheaded. He was a smart boy — one of the best students in Ms. Becerra’s fifth-grade class — so he figured that even though the cool winter weather still made San Diego’s evenings chilly enough to need a sweater, the lack of circulation combined with the body heat of thousands of children conspired to make the detention center’s air heavy and almost suffocating.

Read “The Great Wall” in it’s entirety on High Country News.

Arizona Daily Star: Tom Miller Shows Us a Side of Cuba Tourists Rarely See

November 12, 2017

Following the release event for Tom Miller’s Cuba, Hot and Cold, the Arizona Daily Star honored the Tucson travel writer by running an excerpt of his piece “Cubana Be, Cubana Bop:”

Tucsonan Tom Miller first visited Cuba 30 years ago. He has returned often, writing about a Cuba most don’t get to see. His books include “Trading with the Enemy” and “Revenge of the Saguaro.” This is an excerpt from his latest, “Cuba, Hot and Cold:”

José Martí, leader of Cuba’s nineteenth-century independence movement, is said to have had a voice that sounded like an oboe. Perhaps that’s why the country has so many oboe players. I took oboe lessons in Havana when I lived there in the early 1990s and wrote about them at the time. I was hoping to improve my mediocre oboe skills acquired during junior high school, and frankly, I wanted to show readers that contemporary music in Cuba was more than just salsa and reggaeton. I succeeded with the latter, but far less with improving my ability. I even had trouble with the ducks in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. And so I put my oboe on the top shelf in my Arizona office where it gathered desert dust. I’d glance up at it now and then with a sense of forlorn pride, reassuring myself that I owned a quality instrument that I once played with some gusto.

Read the full excerpt on the Arizona Daily Star.

University Press Week 2017

November 6, 2017

This week we celebrate University Press Week and the importance of scholarship alongside our peers in the Association of American University Presses.

Since 2012, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

In today’s political climate—where “fake news” and “alternate facts” are believed by so many people—valuing expertise and knowledge can feel like a radical act.

University presses not only believe in facts and knowledge, but traffic in them daily, publishing approximately 14,000 books and more than 1,100 journals each year, read by people around the globe.

One of our greatest partners in this venture have been independent bookstores. For the past three years, we have been proud to collaborate with the University of Arizona Bookstores, Antigone Books, and Changing Hands, who have graciously built UP Week displays to showcase the diversity and far-reaching impact of our publishing program.

To all of our readers, reviewers, authors, contributors, and partners, thank you for celebrating with us and your continued dedication to promoting smart, fun, and valuable books that contribute to our rich reading community.#ReadUP

Shelf Awareness: The King of Lighting Fixtures

October 24, 2017

This morning, we were thrilled to see Daniel Olivas’s latest fiction collection The King of Lighting Fixtures reviewed by Shelf Awareness, who declared it, “a potpourri of formats and styles.” Shelf Awareness for Readers appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by booksellers, librarians and other industry experts:

In a helter-skelter cornucopia of voices and formats, the stories of Daniel Olivas’s King of Lighting Fixtures are set on the streets of Los Angeles, focusing on characters as diverse as the city. The collection cements his place in the magical realism tradition of García Márquez and Urrea, and showcases his skills as a master stylist and self-aware observer of life’s little vignettes. Grandson of Mexican immigrants, converted Jew in the Reformed tradition, Olivas (The Book of Want; Things We Do Not Talk About) works as a lawyer in the California Department of Justice and works miracles on the page. “He will have to call it ‘fiction’ otherwise he will be rejected by the publishing industry as a lunatic,” as Olivas writes of a character in “The Three Mornings of José Antonio Rincón” who wakes in different bodies on three consecutive days.

Read the full review on Shelf Awareness.

Frederick Luis Aldama in conversation with Daniel Olivas

October 21, 2017

This week,  Frederick Luis Aldama and Daniel Olivas, two of our very own Camino del Sol authors, came together to discuss matters of content and form in writing fictional borderlands. The conversation between the two prolific writers was the cover feature on Latin@ Literatures.

Established in the summer of 2016, Latin@ Literatures is an online source for contemporary discussion on Latina/o literature and culture seeking to provide a space for philosophical engagement in topics dealing with Latina/o culture.

An expert on Latinx popular culture, Frederick Luis Aldama is the author, co-author, and editor of twenty-nine books, including Long Stories Cut Short and, most recently, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics. Aldama interviewed Olivas about the power of the written word in Latinx communities and his new collection of short stories The King of Lighting Fixtures:

FLA: Daniel, you are author and editor of numerous books and now you have a near simultaneous publication of your book of poetry, Crossing the Border (Pact Press) and a book of short fiction, The King of Lighting Fixtures (Camino del Sol). You are also a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books and work as a lawyer for the California Department of Justice in the Public Rights Division. What’s your secret?

DO: I don’t golf. And I’m a compulsive writer and editor. Perhaps it’s a disease.

FLA: You also edit La Bloga.

DO: Ah, but I share blogging duties with about a dozen wonderful writers.

FLA: While you studied literature at Stanford, you are largely self-taught as a creative writer.

DO: I refused to take creative writing classes while in college because I thought it’d be a frivolous thing to do. Little did I know that I’d embark on a writing career in middle age. But I’m happy I took the route I did. I enjoy being a lawyer, especially in serving the people of California.

Read the full Q&A feature on Latin@ Literatures.

Ohio State Professor Hopes to Inspire Diversity in Comic Movies

October 20, 2017

Bringing pop culture into the classroom, Frederick Luis Aldama, or as he has become known “Professor LatinX,” recently caught the attention of ABC’s Columbus news affiliate WSYX/WTTE. Camera crews joined Aldama at Ohio State University to see how he incorporates comic books into his curriculum and discuss his new book Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics.

An Ohio State professor is designing a class around comic books.

While doing that, Frederick Luis Aldama is looking at why one demographic seems under-represented when the books are made into movies.

His latest book, “LatinX Superheroes in Mainstream Comics” explores the absence of Latino characters in comic book movies.

Watch the interview on Columbus, Ohio’s ABC 6.

Daniel A. Olivas Speaks with LA Times’s Agatha French

A second-generation Angeleno, Daniel Olivas practices law with the California Department of Justice in addition to being a prolific writer, book critic, and avid supporter of the Latinx literary community. Recently he talked with Agatha French, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, about straddling two professions and his new book The King of Lighting Fixtures.

Daniel A. Olivas’ latest collection of short stories, “The King of Lighting Fixtures,” (University of Arizona Press, $16.95) opens with a character settling into his office at the Public Rights Division of the California Department of Justice. It’s a detail from which readers can expect a certain level of authenticity: Olivas, in addition to being the author of nine books, is an attorney there. (Public access to Malibu’s Carbon Beach? Olivas is, in part, to thank.)

“The King of Lighting Fixtures,” includes flash fiction, speculative fiction, magical realism and more traditional stories; what unites the work is a sense of place. Olivas is an L.A. writer, and he roots his work in L.A.

I spoke to Olivas over the phone about straddling two professions; being a longtime contributor to La Bloga, a website that showcases Latina/Latino literature and culture; and writing the final, dystopian story of his book.

Read the full Q&A feature in the Los Angeles Times.

Will the California Forest Fires Change Anything?

October 16, 2017

As we’ve all been consumed by the startling wildfires in California, the UA Press’s resident forest fire expert Stephen Pyne has been the man on-call for reporters on the ground. The author of the definitive history of American wildfires and the Press’s To The Last Smoke series, a multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region, Pyne provides a historical and administrative context for the devastation in California in a recent editorial picked up by Newsweek.

The fires that have blitzed across Napa-Sonoma have a claim on the rest of us because they are tragic, because they will require emergency assistance, and because what happens in California tends not to stay in California.

Most of California is built to burn: it has fires to match its mountains.

Unsurprisingly, fire protection as a formal program came early—a Board of Forestry in 1885; national forests in the 1890s; national parks in the Sierra Nevada under administration by the U.S. Cavalry.

In 1905 the U.S. Forest Service assumed control over the national forests and California passed a Forest Protection Act, leading to an ad hoc condominium that fused into a formal alliance with the 1911 Weeks Act.

Read Pyne’s full feature in Newsweek.

Esther Belin on Her Long-Awaited Second Collection

October 12, 2017

In anticipation for her upcoming book launch event at Maria’s Bookshop, Esther Belin sat down with The Durango Herald‘s Arts Editor Katie Chicklinkski-Cahill to discuss her sophomore poetry collection Of Cartography.

For Bayfield writer and artist Esther Belin, her new book of poems, Of Cartography, was a long time coming.

Belin, whose 1999 book From the Belly of My Beauty won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, will be reading from and talking about her new book on Thursday at Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave.

Q: Tell me about Of Cartography – how long did it take to write?

A: I wrote it a long time ago. It took about seven years to edit. (Laughs) And part of it was just honestly finding the time: I have four kids and for me, it was primarily my focus, and I was working, so it was really hard to figure that out. It was … probably last summer is when I just took the time and said, “I need to finish this.”

Read the full Q&A feature on The Durango Herald.

The Future of Poetry is Brown and Queer

October 6, 2017

Following the release of the new collection Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, Vickie Vértiz sat down with Bitch Media’s Director of Community Soraya Membreno  and fellow poet Vanessa Angélica Villarreal to discuss “the resistance inherent in telling the stories of queer, Brown, working class women of color.”

Despite what National Hispanic Heritage Month would have you think, Latinx writers exist year-round! And despite what headlines like “Poetry is going extinct, government data show,” predict, this is a moment of poetic renaissance and poets of color are paving the way.

Vickie Vértiz’s Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, which came out this September from the University of Arizona Press, sidesteps the glare of Hollywood to center the lives of the Brown working class in southeast Los Angeles. Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut is an offering; to a people, to a city—but it is also an irreverent reclaiming of land and home for those who have always been here.

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal’s Beast Meridian, also out this September from Noemi Press, is a haunting, a heartbreak. Beast Meridian turns trauma into astounding mythology, pushing through loss and erasure to find what it means to be a woman, to be lost, to find yourself anyway.

These collections wrecked me, leaving me weeping in public while I thumb through them at the laundromat or while waiting in line at the grocery store. But they have also made me feel fiercely proud of our stories, our histories. These are the books that have reflected and articulated a vision of Latinx identity I had never seen in literature, and that frankly, I never thought I would see. Their impact cannot be overstated.

Read the full feature Q&A on Bitch Media.

October 6, 2017

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), Latinx literary champion and nationally recognized book critic Rigoberto González puts together a list of exceptional Latinx authors of note for NBC News. This year’s list includes two of our very own: Daniel Olivas’s The King of Lighting Fixtures and Vickie Vértiz’s Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut.

The finalists for the National Book Awards were just announced, and it is a thrill to see the names of two Latinx authors: Chicana writer Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, a finalist in the Young People’s Literature category, and Cuban American writer Carmen María Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, in the Fiction category. And congratulations to Peruvian American writer Daniel Alarcón’s The King is Always Above the People, who was in the longlist for fiction.

The awards ceremony takes place November 15 in New York City, and we wish Sánchez and Machado much luck.

It’s Latino Heritage Month, and to celebrate this, below is a list of Latinx writers worth noting for their exceptional storytelling and poetry. These dozen books were recently published by small and independent presses.

Read the full list on NBC News.

Peter Goin Honored by International Photography Association

October 4, 2017

Peter Goin received an Honorable Mention from the 2017 International Photography Awards for A New Form of Beauty in the category of Professional: Book, Nature. The International Photography Awards aim to salute the achievements of the world’s finest photographers, to discover new and emerging talent, and to promote the appreciation of photography.

In A New Form of Beauty photographer Peter Goin and writer Peter Friederici tackle science from the viewpoint of art, creating a lyrical exploration in words and photographs, setting Glen Canyon and Lake Powell as the quintessential example of the challenges of perceiving place in a new era of radical change. Through evocative photography and extensive reporting, the two document their visits to the canyon country over a span of many years. By motorboat and kayak, they have ventured into remote corners of the once-huge reservoir to pursue profound questions: What is this place? How do we see it? What will it become?



September 30, 2017

Forthcoming this October, No Species Is an Island describes the surprising results of Theodore H. Fleming’s eleven-year study of pollination biology in Sonora, Mexico, in the most biologically diverse desert in the world. These discoveries serve as a primer on how to conduct ecological research, and offer important conservation lessons for us all. Fleming offers an insightful look at how field ecologists work, and the often big surprises that come from looking carefully at a natural world where no species stands alone.

In anticipation of the book’s release event at Tucson’s Tohono Chul Park, the Arizona Daily Star ran an excerpt of Ted Fleming’s No Species Is an Island:

The most biologically diverse desert in the world, the Sonoran Desert hosts four species of columnar cacti which, along with their pollinators, have been the subject of an 11-year study by Dr. Theodore Fleming. “No Species Is an Island” describes his surprising results, including the ability of organ pipe cactus to produce fruit with another species’ pollen and the highly specialized moth-cactus pollination system of the senita. With illustrations by Kim Kanoa Duffek, Fleming’s book offers an insightful look at how field ecologists work and at the often big surprises that come from looking carefully at a natural world where no species stands alone.

Read the full excerpt on the Arizona Daily Star.

18 Best Poetry Books to Read Right Now

September 29, 2017

Signature, a place for “making well-read sense of the world,” highlighted Emmy Pérez’s With the River On Our Face in their fall poetry roundup, which is curated by critic Lorraine Berry.

Emmy Perez sings the borderlands between America and Mexico, a contested land where identity and nationality are under constant surveillance. Her poetry forces the reader to feel the persons who live in those lands. In poems that follow the currents of the Rio Grande, she re-immerses readers in the waters where we all developed, fills our senses with the scent of blooming roses, of burning mesquite, and crashes us into the barriers erected to prevent the development of cross-border relationships. Reading Perez ignites the desire to experience the heat and the sere landscape, and generates anger at the destruction of all that flourishes there.

Read the full list of fall poetry titles on Signature.

Deadly Prison Break that Terrorized Arizona is Subject of New Movie

September 24, 2017

In anticipation of the Hollywood release of the movie adaptation of James Clarke’s The Last Rampage, the Arizona Daily Star revisited Gary Tison’s 1978 prison break and the book that chronicled the two week’s of terror that ensued.

“Gary Tison, his three sons and his cellmate, Randy Greenawalt, walked out of Arizona State Prison in Florence on July 30, 1978, without a shot being fired.

At first it was an embarrassment to the state, then it became a nightmare.

While on the run, the Tison Gang, as they became known in the papers, murdered six people — a husband and wife and their infant son, a teen-age girl and a young honeymooning couple.”

So begins the New York Times’ 1988 review of “Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison,” published nearly 30 years ago by the Houghton Mifflin Co. The University of Arizona Press has published the paperback edition of James W. Clarke’s “The Last Rampage” since 1999.

Clarke’s book is now the basis for a new movie.

On Friday, “Last Rampage: A True Crime Story,” was released in select theaters nationwide, in addition to On Demand and Digital HD. Its Tucson release has not yet been scheduled.

 Read the full feature on the Arizona Daily Star.

Ted Catton Honored with 2017 Forest History Society Award

September 21, 2017

Ted Catton’s American Indians and National Forests is the winner of the 2017 Forest History Society’s Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award. The prize “rewards superior scholarship in forest and conservation history” and goes to “an author who has exhibited fresh insight into a topic and whose narrative analysis is clear, inventive, and thought-provoking.”

American Indians and National Forests shows how tribal nations and the U.S. Forest Service have dealt with important changes in forest ownership and forest use. Author Theodore Catton expertly covers two centuries of interplay to offer the first-ever look at the changing relationships between these two important groups of forest stewards.

August 30, 2017

As part of their forthcoming September/October issue, Foreword Reviews celebrates Daniel Olivas’s latest collection of short stories The King of Lighting Fixtures saying:

Olivas’s bold insistence on leaving a few seams visible, a few threads frayed—even on pulling the rug away entirely—makes the book resound as a fascinating exploration of both the art of storytelling and the ways in which fiction echoes the messiness of life.

Read the full review on Foreword Reviews.

Five Questions with Travel Writer Tom Miller

September 19, 2017

We’re gearing up to celebrate the release of Tom Miller’s latest work Cuba, Hot and Cold, which takes readers on an intimate journey from Havana to the places you seldom find in guidebooks. We recently sat down with Miller to get his thoughts on Cuba’s future in a post-embargo era and his advice for aspiring travel writers.

How did you get your start as a writer, and, more specifically, a travel writer?

Photo By Jay Rochlin

I started writing for a number of reasons. First, I had no marketable skills, an admirable quality for beginning writers. I became active in the anti-war movement – we’re talking late 1960s, during our war against Vietnam – and saw a niche for myself. The anti-war groups had horrendous propaganda. I remember very distinctly looking at a poster for an anti-war rally and saying, “I can do better than that.”  “Be my guest,” said one of the activists as he pulled a rickety chair out – all chairs in the anti-war movement were rickety – and dramatically placed it at a table with a typewriter.  So began my start as a writer.

As a travel writer, I began by default. I had written a book about life along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border. When On the Border came out from Harper & Row, reviewers always referred to it as travel writing. I didn’t call myself a travel writer. I was anointed one.

You’ve been traveling to Cuba for more than 30 years, what keeps bringing you back?

Habit. Family. Continuity. Discovery.  There’s always something new.

In your introduction, you touch on a few run-ins with the CIA and jokingly dedicate the book to the readers, their neighbors, and the CIA for their repeated attempts to turn you informant. What has been your most nerve-wracking encounter with government agencies?

Actually, none. Even when Cuban state security had me in custody, I thought to myself, well, at least I can get a good story out of this.

With more and more Americans traveling to Cuba, how might the island change? 

Worst case scenario: “Six Flags Over Cuba”

Best case scenario: “Cubana Be, Cubana Bop”

What advice do you have for aspiring travel writers?

Forget the travel part and specialize in a place or medical field or language or sports or athletes or crafts or chemistry or education or soil conservation or song lyrics. Just remember: always have a subtext.

What’s on your nightstand right now? (What are you currently reading?)

I’m rereading The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder, a book he began during his tenure in Douglas, Arizona in the early 1960s. When the novel came out in 1967 it was a grand commercial and critical success – all but forgotten now.

Tom Miller will celebrate the release of his new book Cuba, Hot and Cold on November 9, 2017, as part of the Association of American University Press’s National “University Press Week.” Find out more about the event here.

Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval on Starving for Justice

September 18, 2017

In the 1990s, students at UCLA, UCSB, and Stanford University went on hunger strikes to demand the establishment and expansion of Chicana/o studies departments. They also had even broader aspirations—to obtain dignity and justice for all people. These students spoke eloquently, making their bodies and concerns visible.

Breathing life into these students’ spectacular sacrifice and activism, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval talks about his new book Starving For Justice: Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity in a cover interview with Rorotoko, an online home for “cutting-edge intellectual interviews.”

In a nutshell

Starving for Justice examines three hunger strikes that took place in the 1990s on university campuses. Twenty years ago, Chicana/o, Latina/o students at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and Stanford stopped eating. Anti-immigrant measures like Proposition 187, mass incarceration, rising racial and economic inequality, globalization, budget cuts, and higher tuition costs morally outraged many. Having exhausted all other mechanisms for redressing their grievances, they embraced César Chávez’s perhaps mostly widely-known and controversial tactic for creating social change—the fast or “hunger strike.”

Read the full feature on Rorotoko.

International Latino Book Awards 2017

September 11, 2017

We’re pleased to announce two University of Arizona Press books were honored at this weekend’s International Latino Book Awards, which over the last 19 years has grown to become the largest Latino literary and cultural awards program in the United States.

Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert: La vida no vale nada took home First Place in the category of Best Nonfiction Multi-Author. The book addresses the tragic results of government policies on immigration and asks why migrants are dying on our border? The authors constitute a multidisciplinary group reflecting on the issues of death, migration, and policy.

Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, edited by the late Francisco X. Alarcón and Odilia Galván Rodriguez, secured First Place in the category of Best Poetry Book Multi-Author. The edited anthology offers a poetic call for tolerance, reflection, reconciliation, and healing. Bringing together more than eighty writers, the collection powerfully articulates the need for change and the primacy of basic human rights.

National Parks Dinner Party, The Great Southwest, and Utah’s Craziest Bike Ride

August 19, 2017

Historian Flannery Burke’s A Land Apart takes readers to the Southwest’s top tourist attractions to find out how they got there, to listen to the debates of Native people as they sought to establish independence for themselves in the modern United States, and to ponder the significance of the U.S.-Mexico border. Burke emphasizes policy over politicians, communities over individuals, and stories over simple narratives.

Burke discussed how Arizona and New Mexico came to embody what we now think of as “The Great Southwest” with travel icon Rick Steves, appearing on his radio show with fellow authors Terry Tempest Williams and Christopher Solomon.

Listen to the conversation on Travels with Rick Steves.

Poetry Beyond the Basics: Twelve New Collections Offer Fresh Perspective on the Human Experience

August 4, 2017

Right out of the gate, Vickie Vértiz’s Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut is getting big attention, just this week landing a spot in Library Journal‘s fall poetry feature Poetry Beyond the Basics: Twelve New Collections Offer Fresh Perspective on the Human Experience.

“Come closer, chula / There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” These beckoning lines, ending a poem set on a city bus, capture the intimacy and disturbing undercurrent that typify Vértiz’s fine second collection (after Swallows). Vértiz portrays her Los Angeles neighborhood with verve and what might be described as fond anger. We see poverty (“the death stench in our water in our jobs”) and fractured families. In one poem, “Dad’s paychecks couldn’t feed two houses,” which explains why the pet rabbits end up as soup, and elsewhere a postcard from pops says, “I wish you were here, mija / Come on, don’t get all feelings on me / I may be drunk / But at least I’m home.” The uncle delivering an unexpected kiss, teenagers in tight black jeans, the “pleyboy” boyfriend who proved “a hard climb / A home to mispronounce” (“Fuck that, said my brother, There’s other fools to love”), a mother and brother signifying “ten thousand truck miles (“Why won’t / their coughs go away?”)—these make up a chamber opera that Vértiz vivifies with jangle and sparkle.

Read the full feature on Library Journal.


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