EL PASO — In a casita lined with windows looking out over the high desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico, eyes filled with space and light, poet Leslie Ullman’s mind cleared. “I found myself sketching out poems that questioned the sovereignty of the mind, sometimes making fun of it, sometimes sympathizing with its limitations and treadmill existence, and often turning it into a character.”
These verses of clarity found themselves collected in Ullman’s latest book, Progress on the Subject of Immensity, probing inner and outer spaces, questioning conventional notions of “knowledge.”
Ullman is scheduled to read from her new book at UTEP’s Rubin Center Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m. She is professor emerita of creative writing at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) and currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Ullman says that content with not finding answers, the poems instead linger, with calm alertness, in the realm of speculation. “This spirit of inquiry nudged subsequent poems into larger questions—an exploration of spaces inside us as well as outside us: the rhythms of seasons, the earth suspended in its matrix of space, the life of the body, the limitations of conventional Western religion, the nature of desire, and the pleasures—often the sensuous pleasures—of inquiry itself.”
As she wrote, she considered how “…in our youth we are naturally inclined to drive forward with all the powers of mind and body that we can muster—something that we continue to do as we build lives, families, and careers.” But she recognized that at some point, ambition—that willed effort—ceases to work. Ullman is the author of three poetry collections and her poems, reviews and craft essays have been published in a number of magazines and literary journals.
EL PASO – A group of people gathered at the Union Plaza downtown on a recent Saturday morning to browse through and buy arts, crafts and food delicacies at the weekly Downtown Artists and Farmers Market. One vendor in particular stands out from the displays of original, unique hand-made art works because it doesn’t have a canopy overheard like the others. This stand belongs to Seok-Kiew Koay, 58, a designer and maker of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rosaries who has been a regular at the farmer’s market since 2011. “I’ve been doing this (jewelry) for 15 years and this hobby has become my job. I enjoy it,” said Koay as she held up one of her necklaces.
EL PASO – As a track athlete since age 11, Tako-Khady Niare has participated in highly competitive high-jump competitions around the United States and in her native France. But when she moved to El Paso in January 2010 when she was 22 years old to join the UTEP track team she said she confronted one of the biggest obstacles of her life. “The process to be ‘accepted’ was one of the hardest things,” said Niare who spoke little English when she applied for her international student visa to study in the U.S. “I had to fill out lots of papers and pass two tests,” she remembers. She said that a friend connected her to recruiters at UTEP because for the longest time she had wanted to find a good university and an especially good coach in the United States. The UTEP track team needed a high jumper and Niare jumped at the opportunity.
EL PASO – When University of Texas at El Paso alumna Susana Navarro made it to the nation’s capital to help establish more equality in education for Mexican-Americans, she never imagined she would return one day to El Paso to change her own community. Initially a social worker, she decided to focus her career on combating discrimination. For this and more, Susana Navarro has been named one of three 2013 Gold Nugget Award recipients for the UTEP College of Liberal Arts. During her college years in the late 1960s at UTEP, Navarro combined political science classes and her activities as a member of the Student Government Association and a Chicano youth organization. Navarro obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1968.
EL PASO – Ever since high school, I was categorized as one of the students who could never get a college degree, but now I am only months away from earning my diploma at the University of Texas at El Paso, part of the first generation in my family to graduate from college. In high school they had two kinds of plans, the advanced and the general plan. The advanced plan was for those students identified as college material and the general plan was for those students tagged only as high school graduates. My first D in geometry prompted the counselors to switch me to the general plan. Although they said I could still attend college, they pulled me out of geometry and put me in consumer math, which was an interesting class but not a class I feel I really needed.
EL PASO – Attending college is difficult enough, but imagine going to school full-time and working full-time. Many of us at the University of Texas at El Paso are living proof that this is very possible, but it is one tough trek. Affordable tuition makes it accessible to students who cannot afford more expensive universities and its location as a border city gives more people the chance to attend UTEP. The university is diverse in culture and in the ages of its students, since many of them take more time to graduate than expected because they are working full time. Going on my fifth year of college, I have felt a little ashamed at times that I wasn’t able to finish it in four years.
I remember the first time we spoke, more than ten years ago now: my Medical Sociology class in the Psychology building. You were assertive, unlike most UTEP students, and wanted to know what kind of bias inherent in the textbook I had chosen for the class. I believe I told you to read it and then tell me. That slightly awkward beginning grew into mutual respect and affection as we shared ideas and a love of New Mexico, even and perhaps especially, after the class was over. I watched you from afar, as you transformed from undergraduate to wife, mother, and graduate student.
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of profiles of women of influence in El Paso. EL PASO – Joyce Wilson, El Paso’s city manager, gets up in the early hours of the morning to exercise, a calm start to most of her days before the city begins to stir. As she works out, she thinks of her daughter who is married and has blessed her with three grandchildren. The two older ones want to visit this summer. Behind those tranquil thoughts, another scenario of tasks waiting on her desk is on her mind – the public transit system improvements, the storm water utility projects, and an historic downtown waiting for renovation. And she may be thinking of the winding road that brought her to the border city as El Paso’s first city manager in 2004.
EL PASO – As I was walking toward my first day in the Univision 26 newsroom, the news director, and my new boss, Zoltan Csany asked me how I felt. Without hesitation I answered, “very excited!”
As soon as I entered the building I knew I was in the right place. Ever since I knew I could do an internship wherever I wanted, in my mind there was only one place – Univision 26. With graduation only three semesters away, I began to think that my best option was to gain some experience doing an internship. After a couple of visits to the internship advisors the day came when she asked me, (and I remember perfectly) “If you could have your way, what would you do?”
Although I was presented with many options, I did not even have to think about it and immediately answered Channel 26. On December of 2011 I started my dream internship at Univision 26.
EL PASO – Durante esta temporada de primavera y renovación en todos los sentidos, entrevisto a Alejandra Chávez, la Chef y propietaria del restaurante Thyme Matters, quien sabe una o dos cosas sobre reinventarse y seguir tus sueños
En realidad nunca imaginé que alguien tan joven iba a contarme una historia con tantos sueños alcanzados y audacia. Resulta que Alejandra en su corta pero intensa vida, estuvo viviendo en Iowa, en un tiempo en que los únicos latinos que conocían en ese remoto pueblecito eran los trabajadores agrícolas que llegaban a cosechar el maíz. Ella llegó a los 22 años, como una joven financiera recién graduada de UT Austin, a comerciar en la bolsa de valores los futuros del maíz. Después le ofrecieron irse a trabajar a Enron y su intuición, junto con sus análisis financieros, le dijeron que había algo raro que no encajaba, así que dejó su exitosa carrera financiera y una vida cosmopolita en Houston para regresar a su tierra, El Paso. Ya aquí y después de preocupar a su papá, que no sabía que iba a hacer esta hija suya, nuestra chef decidió un fin de año que ahora sí se iba a dedicar a lo que más le gustaba en la vida y se inscribió el 2 de enero de 2003 en un curso de gastronomía en Florencia, haciendo uso de todos sus ahorros.