The 2011 Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest

Denise Chávez

2011 Anaya Lecture Poster - Denise Chavez

A native of Las Cruces who lives in the house where she was born, Chávez is the author of plays, short fiction, essays, and novels, including The Last of the Menu Girls (1986), Face of an Angel (1994), Loving Pedro Infante (2001), and A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food, and Culture (2006). Widely regarded as a foundational figure in Mexican American literature, Chávez has won numerous awards for her work, including the American Book Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, the New Mexico Governor’s Award, and the Premio Aztlán, a literary prize for Chicana/o literature established in 1993 by Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya.

About the Author

Denise ChavezChávez is the founder of the Cultural Center of Mesilla as well as the annual Border Book Festival, now in its eighteenth year. "I’m honored by the invitation to speak at UNM about the rich and growing field of Southwest literature," Chávez explains. Of her own work, she notes: "My characters are survivors. I feel, as a Chicana writer, that I am capturing the voice of so many who have been voiceless for years—the neighborhood handymen, the waitresses—My work is rooted in the Southwest...In this dry and seemingly harsh and empty world there is much beauty to be found. Everything has a voice and you just have to listen as closely as you can."

She attended New Mexico State University and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and received her MFA from the University of New Mexico. Chávez’s writing focuses on land, language, and community in the Southwest borderlands, and her work reclaims the voices of women that reflect the diverse influences of the region and contest simplistic notions of Chicana identity in popular culture. Her work also has been included in collections such as Daughters of the Fifth Sun: A Collection of Latina Fiction and Poetry (1995), Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Charting New Frontiers in American Literature (1988), and Cuentos Chicanos (1984). She has taught creative writing at UNM and NMSU and has presented lectures, readings and workshops throughout the United States and Europe.

A Special Thank You

Made possible through a generous gift from New Mexico writer Rudolfo Anaya, the annual Anaya Lecture brings together students, faculty, and community members to address the rich traditions and new directions of Southwest literature.

UNM co-sponsors for the 2011 Anaya Lecture with Denise Chávez include the following:

Department of English Language and Literature
Humanities Building, Second Floor
MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Phone: (505) 277-6347
Fax: (505) 277-0021