Archive for the ‘Chicken N Salsa’ Category


April’s Chicken and Salsa – MFA Mambo!

March 31, 2009

Hello my fellow writers,

You’ve all probably (hopefully) heard about the Artist Salon (MFA Mixer/Mambo) I’ve been shooting out emails about. I’m trying to connect the MFA students at UNM (studio art, writing, theater and dance, etc) so we can meet each other and possibly collaborate. I am holding the 1st gathering on Sat. April 4th. So, this month’s Chicken and Salsa gathering will be the MFA Mixer!

I hope you all come…especially those of you I have only met in passing with a quick hello or have only had a class or two with. I really am fascinated by all of you and every day I am again reminded about the type of writer I want to be one day – I get that from listening to your readings, comments in class, and witnessing your enthusiasm.

When: Sat, April 4th
Where: my apartment (email me ( for the address!)
Time: 8pm til ? (husbands, gfs, bfs, signif. others, are welcome to come along)
What to bring: something to share, either food or drink, and your fabulous self!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many Blessings,
Tanaya Winder


Chicken and Salsa February

February 23, 2009

I know this Chicken and Salsa Update is coming along rather late, but better late than never, right?

February’s C&S Gathering was held at Sneakerz Bar and Grill where we did karaoke. It truly was a fun experience – though our karaoke-ing was put off about two hours because of the once-a-year arm wrestling tournament that was going on. Either way, it was fun to all get together, talk, and get up the courage to grab the microphone and SING!

Some may wonder what singing in a bar with a bunch of drunks has to do with writing. In planning this month’s gathering I thought a lot about one of my mentor’s Li-Young Lee. I learned so much from working with him, but one thing that stands out forever in my mind is the importance of giving life’s breath to words. Perhaps many of us practice reading aloud our work or revise by reading aloud to ourselves…. and that is indeed valuable. But, something about the “to ourselves” aspect of that private work and revision troubles me…. Words only come alive when we give breath to them with our own life’s force. Sometimes, I forget that – maybe others do, maybe they don’t. Either way, sharing the work we do, sharing the beauty of our voices, is special – regardless of where the sharing takes place. I think it is important to honor the gift of voice and that is what February’s Chicken and Salsa was about.

Watch this great Def Jam Poetry video:


Chicken and Salsa- January and Beyond

January 26, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out to C & S at Robin’s house.  The fire (thanks Dan!!!), the smores (yummy!), and most of all, the company were all absolutely fantastic!  I had such a great time.  Reading poetry by firelight, talking about teaching, writing, and everything in between was excellent.  The poetry shared was inspiring and I was glad to find representation from nonfiction, fiction, and poetry students.  

I really want to extend a welcome (a BIG WELCOME) out to everyone who has not had a chance to make it to a Chicken & Salsa gathering yet. Or those of you who have only made it once.  You seriously are missing out and WE are missing out from not having you as well.  

I swear something special happens, at least in my mind, to be able to get together with other MFA students and artists outside of the classroom.  I am reminded of my experiences in an Indigenous Identity in the Diaspora course with Cherrie Moraga my final spring quarter at Stanford.  Twenty artists (from all disciplines, music, dance, poetry, fiction, etc) were accepted into the course and we gathered each week to discuss our art practices, our inspirations, and I left each gathering learning something new, respecting my art even more, and inspired by seeing and hearing how much everyone loved (and struggled with) their own art as well.  I remember thinking (since I had already decided on coming to UNM for my MFA) that THIS…. THIS feeling, THIS community, THIS energy – this is what I hope I can get from my MFA program, or what I will try to start. 

Seeing the connections writing and art brings between people from all walks of life, reminds me why I am here: as a person, as a writer.  This is my vision for Chicken and Salsa.  We all have so much to learn, especially from each other. 

There are only FOUR more gatherings left so I encourage you all to come out. 

February: The 1st Saturday in February (7th) will be held at Sneakerz bar and grill at 4100 San Mateo NE.

March: hosted by Chris Boat?
April: hosted by Sam and Erika?
May: hosted by Felicia Chavez



Saturday night at Sneakerz is Karaoke night!  Yes, yes Yes!!!  The focus of this gathering will be on stage presence and overcoming any stage fright!  It will be about working on confidence….. don’t worry if you “don’t sing” it is great fun, there’s usually a pretty good crowd there, and if all else you can come share a pizza and some beer (or non-alcoholic beverages) with us and watch the rest of us make fools of ourselves.  And the more of us who come, the more we can cheer for each other.  

Finally, I’d like to draw from one of the writers who inspires me.  Cherrie Moraga writes in her “Loving in the War Years”:

“And if this play doesn’t satisfy my hunger for La Llorona’s story, maybe another later work will.  Maybe it’s a story I’ll work on for the rest of my life in many shapes and voices and styles.  Maybe, as James Baldwin once said, we each have just one story to tell and every writing effort is just an attempt to say it better this time.  Maybe somewhere in me I believe that if I could get to the heart of Llorona, I could get to the heart of the mexicanaprison and in the naming I could free us…if only just a little.  Maybe the effort is a life well spent”

To borrow from her words, for me: maybe somewhere deep within me, I believe that we are all trying to get at the heart of something (with our writing), maybe the heart of a people, a movement, voice, or simply the heart of ourselves.  Working towards getting there – is freeing- but it is a difficult and at times, lonely, struggle; traveling this path with others who are brave enough to share the burden of “the gift” is (for me) a life well spent.  

UNM Creative Writing Blog Getting Noticed

December 18, 2008

And some other good things about the UNM Creative Writing Program.

From UNM Today:

Soon after first year M.F.A. student Tanaya Winder came to UNM this semester, she told Julie Shigekuni, new director of the creative writing program, about a Stanford program called the Levinthal Tutorials that helped her prepare for graduate school. Winder’s suggestion led to the creation of the Russo Tutorials, an independent study pairing creative writing graduate students with seniors who are developing a portfolio and graduate school application.

M.F.A. student Valerie Santillanes will participate in the tutorials next semester. In her final year, Santillanes said she wants to pass on the mentorship she received. “Having someone that believed I could do it made me believe I could do it,” she said. “It’s exciting to think I could be that for somebody.”

She’s also excited about a new retreat for graduate students that will be held at Ghost Ranch during intercession so they can work intensively on their dissertations. Santillanes said it will be great to go somewhere without distractions and concentrate on writing.

While acknowledging the UNM creative writing program has had a controversial year with serious issues to be resolved, these students are bringing new ideas and energy to help the program live and grow.