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FEBRUARY 2016 • 13


In Celebration of Black History Month The story of one black woman’s life (so far)


y first encounter with award-winning Las Cruces author Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz’s writing was in 2007 in connection with a short story contest, the Glass Woman Prize. Her brilliant entry, “The Story of My Life (So Far),” was the story of a young girl experiencing the erosion of all promise and hope and trust in life. And yet the girl speaks with a voice that is — while skeptical of justice — nevertheless still filled with the strength and resiliency of survival. The story gave me goose bumps. I immediately knew it would be the winner for that particular prize period. I can still remember the catch in my throat when I read it out loud to my husband that same day. Storyteller, poet, mother of seven children, assistant professor at Doña Ana Community College, actress, comedienne, teddy bear maker, photographer (not necessarily in that order), Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is a fountain of energy and creativity. “My mission,” she writes, “is to document life’s beauty and its pain … to give voice to those who have been quieted or ignored.” And what a voice she gives – fierce and compassionate. Her words are at home in the mind of an abused girl as easily and as stunningly as in the mind of a drug addict struggling to survive; or a young father contemplating his daughter’s pink nightgown before heading out to risk his life registering fellow Negro voters in hostile

books, an imprint of Argus House Press. Many of her individual pieces are available online. A writer’s life is not always a smooth road of glory. Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz’s family of origin did not particularly encourage or support her creative side. She did, however, get enormous support from teachers and professors, especially Joseph Somoza, former poetry professor at NMSU, and the

late Keith Wilson. And their wives. And other writers who keep relighting her creative candle when discouragement threatens to take its toll. When she is not writing, you might find Mintz teaching or evaluating student work; you might find her making teddy bears and selling them at the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market – you might find her taking photographs of sunflowers or river

rocks or sunsets, or showing them at a local gallery. You might find her dancing. You might find her on a long run on the NMSU campus. And always her mind will be spinning around new way of showing and highlighting parts of the human experience until they touch other people’s hearts, for, in her words, “you can’t legislate people’s hearts and that’s where the problem and solution lies.”

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz Mississippi; or a mother in grief as well as anger over her son’s coffin. There is enormous power and insight in her writing. It flows naturally and without gimmicks or intellectual pretensions. Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz describes herself as a “wild and careless dreamer, a restless wonderer and frequent wanderer, a lover and writer of tales, both lived and imagined.” Her writing credentials range from a high school poem published in “Seventeen,” a degree in journalism and mass communications and a scholarship to the Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar for Writers, to many publications, awards, recognitions and validations. She has published dozens of stories and poems, winning prizes and invitations nationwide and internationally. 2016 will see the publication of a new prose chapbook “Where I’ll Be If I’m Not There,” which won an annual contest sponsored by Winged City Chap-

20th Annual Soup Kitchen Fundraiser for Portal Rescue

SAVE THE DATE! Las Cruces Home Builders Association Presents

35th Annual

March 5 & 6, 2016

Saturday, March 5: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, March 6: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

At the Las Cruces Convention Center

The store in Portal, Arizona is one of several places to get a ticket for the Soup Kitchen fundraiser which raises money to support the area fire and rescue organization which serves both Portal and Rodeo, New Mexico areas. (Photo by Elva K. Österreich)


his year marks the 20th year for the Soup Kitchen, Portal Rescue’s main fundraiser. This community event is scheduled for Feb. 15, 16 and 17. It will be held at the Portal Rescue classroom building in Portal, Arizona. During each of these days, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., participants can get their choice of two savory soups, two delicious breads, a dessert and a beverage for just $7. There will also be a drawing for 13 prizes including stays at local bed and breakfast lodges, artwork, pottery, gift certificates and more. Tickets are $1 each and are available at the Rodeo Tavern, the Rodeo Store,

and the Portal Post Office (between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), as well as by mail. Participants need not be present to win. It takes approximately $50,000 per year to run Portal Rescue, the community’s volunteer fire and medical emergency organization which serves both Portal, Arizona, Rodeo, New Mexico and surrounding areas. The Soup Kitchen helps raise the needed funds for this, along with additional donations. Last year, more than $7,400 was raised, and they hope to exceed that amount this year. Portal Rescue receives no money from county taxes. Web:

Come Meet businesses that cater to all of your Home Improvement & New Home Construction Needs! Attend the Home Improvement demonstrations taking place daily at our Main Stage Experience “THE VALLEY” themed outdoor landscape design area incorporating water features! For more information contact our office at 575-526-6126 or go to our Website at

Desert Exposure - February 2016  
Desert Exposure - February 2016