The staff of Blue Mesa Review is comprised of current creative writing MFA students from the University of New Mexico. One of the coolest things about our program is working for Blue Mesa Review. But another great thing that a lot of us get to do is work for the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, which was founded 16 years ago by UNM faculty member, Sharon Oard Warner.
The Conference, which happens each July in beautiful Taos, New Mexico, was originally founded in order to create a link between the University of New Mexico and the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, the only property that the novelist ever owned, located just outside of Taos. For years, the Conference has taken loads of participants to the Ranch, had fellows stay in the fellowship cabin before the property fell into disrepair, and created, at least for one magical week in July, that thing that Lawrence so desired: a utopian society where writers and artists of all kinds can go to create and commune.
In this way, the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference and Blue Mesa Review are two ways that we get to participate in the rich literary history that exists in New Mexico. Our magazine was founded 25 years ago by Rudolfo Anaya and others as a way for literature from and about the Southwest to infiltrate a national and international literary conversation. And now, Sharon Oard Warner is taking that link one step further by offering online writing courses through Rananim–The Online Writing Community of the Taos Summer Writer’s Conference.
Rananim—derived from the Hebrew word for rejoice—is the name D. H. Lawrence gave to his dream of a congenial community of writers and artists. The eleven months the novelist spent at the “Kiowa Ranch,” as it was known in his time, were the closest he ever came to establishing his utopian society. In 1955, Frieda Lawrence deeded the property to the University of New Mexico with the provision that the Ranch be used for educational and recreational purposes and that it be open to the public. Unfortunately, the last decade has been a difficult one for the property, which is in need of restoration and renovation.
In keeping with Lawrence’s vision, Sharon determined to begin Rananim, which will seek to create a community of writers from around the world. Rananim will offer non-degree classes, workshops, and facilitated critiques by distinguished writers nationwide. Registration for the eight-week classes is now open. But the best part? Net proceeds from the online courses will be used to preserve and protect the D.H. Lawrence ranch, and honor Frieda Lawrence’s vision of the ranch as a venue for the arts.
We are so excited about this new program, and if you are looking for a workshop to take this fall, or if you have been longing for a nurturing writing community, look no further. Rananim courses are taught by incredible instructors, including BMR’s own faculty adviser, Emily Rapp, and all of the proceeds go to this great cause. To learn more about the project and Lawrence’s vision for a community of writers, watch this video, directed by Conference Assistant Director, Eva Lipton-Ormand.