On September 12, 2020, the WFMT Chicago Radio Network will air the Opera Southwest production of Bless Me, Ultima (1972), composed by Hector Armienta and based on the late Rudolfo A. Anaya’s classic Chicano novel set in New Mexico. OSW’s production ran for five sold out performances at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in February 2018, and Mr. Armienta delivered the ninth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest in October 2018. The opera broadcast will be available via online streaming on the WFMT website, https://www.wfmt.com. More information about the opera can be found here, https://radionetwork.wfmt.com/programs/opera-southwest/.
Professor Emeritus Rudolfo Anaya passed away on June 28, 2020 in his home. Anaya taught in the English Department for nearly 20 years (1974-1993) and established the Creative Writing Program and its literary journal, Blue Mesa Review. As a faculty member, Anaya taught some of our most talented writers today, including US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and he put New Mexico on the map of Chicano and Southwestern literature with his own fiction writings, critical essays, and literary anthologies. Anaya is the recipient of the National Medal of the Arts (2002) and the National Humanities Medal (2016). In addition to his papers held at the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, the library has made available some of his manuscripts via the Rudolfo Anaya Digital Archive, https://anaya.unm.edu/.
Last April 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, to recognize his work with the Rudolfo Anaya Summer Reading Program. The rebroadcasting of Mr. Armienta’s Bless Me, Ultima opera is a sound tribute to one of the nation’s most important Chicano authors and one of our very own faculty members who never ceased giving to the department and its students. Anaya not only established the lecture series through a generous donation, but he also established the Rudolfo Anaya Scholarship fund, an annual award for MFA students. On October 5, 2021, we will host Joy Harjo for the tenth annual Anaya Lecture, one of Anaya’s last requests.
It is no understatement to say that Rudolfo Anaya holds a special place in Southwestern and Chicana/o literature and culture. The rebroadcasting of the Bless Me, Ultima opera is a sound tribute to the padrino of Chicano literature and maestro of New Mexican magical realism. En paz se descansa.