ShareSOMOS Carries on the Literary Legacy of TaosHome Discover Blog Art & Culture SOMOS Carries on the Literary Legacy of Taos The legacy of the written word in Taos dates back to the 1800s when Padre Jose Antonio Martinez, priest and educator, helped bring the first printing press to New Mexico. Soon after, Taos became a haven for the creative soul. In the early 20th century, literary notables Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence, and others arrived in the area. Like the fine arts, literary arts flourished, and in 1983, the Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS), was born. The Mission of SOMOS Today Since then, SOMOS has carried on the literary legacy of Taos, becoming a respected resource center whose outreach extends to the greater community of northern New Mexico and beyond. Today, it boasts over 600 members from all over the world. Its live readings, workshops, festivals, and annual Taos Writers Conference not only showcase local, regional, and national writers but also encourage creativity in novice writers from all walks of life. Its mission statement says it all: We support and nurture the literary arts, written and spoken, by providing both place and resources for writers, readers, and learners while honoring the cultural diversity of Taos and the Southwest region. SOMOS carries on the literary legacy of Taos at 108 Civic Plaza Drive, just a short walk from Historic Taos Plaza. Its space has two separate classrooms and a large room that doubles as a bookshop and a salon for literary gatherings. The salon is open to writing groups and for book launches and signings, musical concerts, plays, and other literary events. In addition to its annual flagship events—the Taos Writers Conference, Poetry Month, Prose Month, Young Writers Program, and the Storytelling Festival—SOMOS collaborates with local organizations such as the Harwood Museum of Art, the PASEO Project, University of New Mexico-Taos, Taos United, Taos Immigrant Allies, Taos Public Schools, Taos Center for the Arts, Taos Public Library, the Town of Taos, Taos MainStreet, and Taos Jazz Bebop Society to sponsor diverse activities, such as Writers Showcase, Poetry & Art in Public Places, Poetry & Art Walk, Poetry & Jazz, Taos Environmental Film Festival, and literary dinners. The Taos Poet Laureate Program Courtesy of a founding grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation in December 2017, SOMOS carries on the literary legacy of Taos through its Taos Poet Laureate program. Local poet Sawnie Morris served from January 2018 through December 2019. Her project “Poetry in Waiting” involved over forty installations of excerpts from poems throughout the town of Taos. Locations ranged from Holy Cross Hospital and Taos Pueblo to hair salons, medical offices, auto repair shops, veterinary clinics, and coffee shops. Many of the locations requested that their installations remain permanently. In January 2020, judges named longtime Taos resident Catherine Strisik as the new Poet Laureate. Her project “Poetry in Nature” entails installation of nature poems on stones, walls, and pillars in the natural environment. She solicited submissions from throughout the country for poems sensitive to the nature and culture of northern New Mexico. Learn about the current Poet Laureate here. Where SOMOS Began The SOMOS Bookshop has carried on the literary legacy of Taos since its humble beginnings in the 1990s when board members Phyllis and Sy Hotch sold books outside the SOMOS office. Since then, the store has been stocked with used books donated by members and the public as well as new books by local and regional authors. The collection of used books numbers in the thousands, categorized into nearly 70 subjects ranging from poetry and fiction to cooking and spirituality. Books by local and regional authors are constantly replenished with new offerings, and there is an archive collection of books by Taos literary celebrities. For those who love books and the literary arts, no trip to Taos is complete without a visit to SOMOS.