On April 12, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed New Mexico SB 270 into law, designating October 30 the “Rudolfo Anaya I Love to Read Day,” which falls on Mr. Anaya’s birthday. The Senate bill recognizes his work in establishing the Rudolfo Anaya Summer Reading Program (https://www.anayareaders.org/).
In 2016, Mr. Anaya teamed up with Mayrose and Mike Monclavo, who lost a son to a tragic car accident. The family established a memorial scholarship in honor of their son, Christopher Monclavo, who loved to read and admired Mr. Anaya’s work. The Monclavo family and Mr. Anaya established the Rudolfo Anaya Summer Reading Program, with the goal of strengthening schoolchildren’s reading skills in the summer time. The Summer Reading Program witnessed an exponential growth and great success rate over a two-year period, serving over 40 students in 2016 to nearly 200 school-aged readers in 2018. The program emphasizes place-based stories and familiar modes of storytelling.
On 4 February 2019, Senator Pete Campos introduced SB 270, co-sponsored by Representatives Patricia Caballero-Roybal (Bernalillo) and Joseph Sanchez (Río Arriba). SB 270 received unanimous and bipartisan support. Governor Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law on April 12, and both the Anaya and Montalvo families celebrated, along with the Governor and Representative Sanchez, at the Roundhouse on May 7.
Mr. Anaya is the author of numerous novels, articles, fiction, and folklore, as well as books for children. It is no understatement to say that Mr. Anaya holds a special place in Southwestern and Chicana/o literature and culture. University Libraries just launched the Rudolfo Anaya Digital Archive (https://anaya.unm.edu/), and the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections houses his papers. The library also houses Mr. Anaya’s Humanities Medal, which he received from President Barack Obama in 2016.
Mr. Anaya has an even more special place in the English Department, as a founder and Professor Emeritus of the Creative Writing Program, and the force behind the establishment of Blue Mesa Review, a biannual literary journal of MFA writing that is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary issue (1989-2019). Even in retirement, Mr. Anaya continues to support Southwestern writers, and in 2010 he established the Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest. This Fall, the Anaya Lecture is hosting a series of symposia on the Indigenous Southwest (https://english.unm.edu/dept-life/events/anaya-lecture/index.html), and next Fall it will host the tenth anniversary lecture.
Congratulations to Mr. Anaya for all of his contributions to New Mexico’s people and place. Let’s celebrate his birthday and reading on October 30!