Welcome

Welcome to the newly established Las Vegas (NM) Literary Salon (LVLS).

Not to be confused with any salons in the “other Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS) is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Great Rocky Mountains and is devoted to writers, readers, and thinkers of the Greater Las Vegas area. As part of its mission, LVLS supports the literary arts by presenting events like A Visit with the Author in which area writers are interviewed and read from their works via Zoom; and The Writers’ Roundtable, a Zoom production in which a variety of writers gave readings of their work. In the future, LVLS plans to hold book fairs, establish reading clubs and talk groups, provide workshops on writing, editing, publishing, and self-publishing.    

Edwina Romero, A Founding Member

Born and bred in East Boston, Massachusetts, I have been making stories, reading, or writing for more years than I want to count. Once I learned how to read, in the evenings when the younger ones were asleep, my mother dragged a lamp out through the open kitchen window to our third floor, screened-in back porch where we read and ate Saltine-cracker-and-butter sandwiches in the circle of light. Later, when babysitting my younger sister & brothers, I created stories to entertain them. They always joined in and made them better, as did my daughter many years later. Creating may be a communal activity.   

I’ve read books on subway trains, in waiting rooms and cafes, in bed, in cars, buses, and airplanes. I’ve read aloud to my daughter, my classes, friends, fellow writers, siblings, my cat, a few audiences, and to nobody at all. I’ve written letters, emails, a Ph. D. dissertation on writing, poems, academic papers, non-fiction, and fiction. With everything I wrote and everything I read, I learned something about reading and writing, myself, human beings and other animals, and the universe in which we all live.

I hope that sharing my experiences with others will help encourage more and more reading, writing, and pondering.    

Writings
Footlights in the Foothills, Amateur Theatre of Las Vegas and Fort Union, New Mexico, 1871-1899;
Cowboy Reunions of Las Vegas, New Mexico;
Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union;
Las Vegas, New Mexico, 1835-1935.

Favorite Books
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Book of Speculation Erika Swyler

Where Do Books Come From?

I read before I started school.

No one set out consciously to teach me, nor did I entertain a plan to learn. Among my earliest memories,  (at about three years old) is that every night, my mother would gather me up, damp and sleepy from my bath, cozy in flannel footie pajamas, and wrap me in a blanket. We would settle in the worn wooden rocker next to the black franklin stove (which sometimes overheated and the lid would pop up with a loud bang. I kept a wary eye on that stove.) And then she would say the magic words, “Let’s read a story,” and she would open the cover of a Little Golden Book, and begin. I remember The Little Engine That CouldThe Three Naughty KittensPeter Cottontail, and so many more filled with brightly colored pictures and big printed words. 

Sometimes my father read to me from the Bible, and I loved the rhythm of the words, the thunder of the Biblical names, and the image of the animals going to the ark, two by two.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have my own library card. My best friend and I would roller skate to the library and pick out books, then return to the shelter of her front porch to spend the day reading. But no one ever thought to tell me where books come from, as they taught me so many other things. I knew the Bible said God made the world, so it was a natural progression for me that God made books. I didn’t even think about it.

The Christmas I turned seven a neighbor gave me a copy of Black Beauty. I read it straight through and then read it again. Then I ran to find my mother, to tell her about this wonderful horse, to urge her to read the story for herself. To beg for a horse of my own.

Her primary interest being to distract me from the notion of horse ownership, my mother quickly suggested that I go to the library, and see if the author had written any other books. An author? A suspicion grew. A light dawned.

Perhaps books were not organic things like peaches on a tree, or little miracles shelved by angels while the librarian slept. 

“Where do the books at the library come from?” I asked.

“People write them,” came the answer.

People write them. What an amazing idea. A storybook held so much magic for me, transporting me away in time and space that my mother had a hard time calling me out of the book to eat dinner.

“Of course, people write books. Who did you think wrote them?”

God, of course.

From that simple revelation came an omnivorous appetite for the written word. If people wrote books, I could learn to write them, too. At some point thereafter I fell prey to ambition: I wanted to read every book ever written. By the time I was nine, the librarian told my mother I had read all of the books in the children’s section of the library, and she allowed me to check out some of the adult books. 

Between the ages of ten and eighteen, I read Alexander Dumas, Mark Twain, most of Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Austen, popular novels, political novels, all the plays by George Bernard Shaw, Bradbury, Asimov, Kafka, Dos Passos, Woolfe, the Brontes, and more, including a translation of the logs of the voyages of Christopher Columbus – over 2000 pages of exposition and annotations.

From the age of eight onward, I also wrote, so that when I finished reading everything ever written, I would be ready to add my stories to the list. I wrote poetry, plays, letters, columns, news stories, essays, and novels.

In my early twenties, I nearly despaired when I realized books were being published constantly, and I could not possibly read everything published in a single year, let alone everything ever written. 

I was the opposite of Alexander the Great, who wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I could see nothing but new worlds, without any end. And I wanted to add to this river, this torrent, this avalanche of print? Yes. I wanted to add my own new worlds, even if no one ever read them.

And so I write.

Mary Rose Hennsler

What is the Literary Salon

Howdy! We’re glad you’re here

Sharon Vander Meer

Las Vegas Literary Salon hosted its first event Sunday, July 12, thanks to the Las Vegas Arts Council and the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. The event was a delayed launch because of the pandemic. Originally, thanks to a Mustard Seed grant from the First United Presbyterian Church, the first event was to be a poetry workshop in April featuring Carolyn Martin.

After waiting for life to get back to normal, which clearly wasn’t happening soon enough for us, Patti Romero and I, founders of LVLS, decided to make use of Zoom technology to get LVLS up and running. With the encouragement and help of LVAC’s Susie Tsytee, we produced a Writers & Readers Roundtable featuring five authors. It was well attended for our first foray into the digital world and gave us much-needed encouragement to continue.

Thanks to our guests, author Ray John de Aragon, poet Joy Alesdatter, historian Tim Hagaman, poet Kathleen Lujan, and writer/performance artist Beth Urech, we saw the potential for more.

Since then we have had an event each month through November and will return to programming in January with Toby Smith, author of Crazy Fourth: How Jack Johnson Kept His Heavyweight Title and Put Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the Map.

This is the launch of our website, which is very much a work in progress. Click on Guest Roll for a brief bio and contact information for previous LVLS guests.

Going forward, we will continue with A Visit with the Author, and expand on workshops, like the one conducted by Carolyn Martin. We’re looking for ideas, so if you have a topic you would like us to explore, or a presenter who LVLS might invite, or suggestions for improvement to the site, please let us know by filling out the contact form below.

There is no cost for participants or audience members. We want to thank the LVNM Community Foundation and the Las Vegas Arts Council for their encouragement and support. And thanks to the First Presbyterian Church of Las Vegas for its Mustard Seed Grant, which allowed us to resubmit the grant request with revised deliverables. With the grant, we will purchase a one-year Zoom license and get this website off the ground. The remaining grant funds will be used to published a collection of short stories and poems by regional writers. But, that’s a story for another day.

LVLS events are generally held from 4-5 p.m., the fourth Sunday of the month. Registration is required so we may send you a Zoom invite specific to the featured guest or program. In the future, we hope to switch to in-person activities. Until then, our programming is digital.

Please share this post with your friends who love writing and reading. We’re excited about the future of Las Vegas Literary Salon. If you would like to become a member, click on the Contact tab and provide us with your email address. We will send you notification of upcoming events. We also invite you to follow this website so you don’t miss any of our posts.

A special thanks to Jim Terr who has generously edited some of our videos. We appreciate the donation of his time and expertise.

The Las Vegas Literary Salon Team
Sharon Vander Meer
Patti Romero
Mary Rose Henssler