Happy New DE Year!
Here, April is the opposite of the "cruelest month."
April is always a special month for us here at Desert Exposure World Headquarters, and not just because it means remembering to file our taxes. Our first issue as the newly minted owners, publishers, creative team and delivery crew was the April edition in 2003. We'd arrived in southwest New Mexico only in late February. But we somehow managed to get our arms around the whole publication process, come up with a whole issue's worth of original content, scan all the holdover ads, develop a layout template and convert Desert Exposure to electronic delivery to the printer in time to meet those April deadlines. (Not to mention that my mother passed away in early March, so there was a trip to South Dakota and a funeral in there, too.) We didn't miss that deadline, nor any of the 132 deadlines since, counting this issue.
As we celebrate our 11th anniversary and begin our 12th year producing Desert Exposure, the publication itself marks 18 years since its inaugural issue in April 1996. Those first few years before our ownership skipped the January issue, so if you do the math we think that makes this issue 210 of Desert Exposure, though this sort of counting always confuses us. (That's our excuse for forgetting to hold a parade and balloon fiesta when we published our 200th issue last year.)
We've never been big on "special" or themed issues, but this anniversary edition does seem to have a highly appropriate refrain running through several of the features. Think of it as our celebration of the people who make the Silver City/Grant County community we've called home for 11-plus years so uniquely suited to supporting a publication like Desert Exposure. (We appreciate your support, too, readers and advertisers in Deming and Las Cruces, and this issue has all our usual regional coverage to prove it — plus a lovely walk through the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park by writer Karen Ray.)
Start with the artists. In this month's Arts Exposure section, Sunny McFarren explores how three local artists — Harry Benjamin, Lois Duffy and Diana Ingalls Leyba — engaged in "Paying It Forward" to benefit the whole community. All three artistic icons have been represented on our covers, including Duffy on the very first issue on our watch and Ingalls Leyba (again) on this month's cover.
Then there are the musicians, whom Twana Sparks profiles in a wide-ranging roundup, "The Sounds of Silver City." She found so many — remarkable for a town this size — that we had to break up her article into two parts, the second of which you can read next month, just in time for Silver City's annual Blues Fest.
Writer John Catsis completes this trio of community chronicles with "Northern Exposure" (an appropriate title for this anniversary month!), introducing readers to the surprising number of Silver City-area residents who've relocated here from, of all places, Alaska. We like to think these Alaska expats found much the same hard-to-put-a-finger-on-it appeal that we did in coming to Silver City. Perhaps, we modestly allow ourselves to speculate, a few Alaska transplants — like other desert emigrants — number Desert Exposure in some small way among their reasons for staying.
This anniversary issue also brings the return of our reader survey, which we've skipped in recent years because, frankly, the results were so much the same from one to the next. To paraphrase Sally Field, the survey found, "You like us, you really like us." But who tires of hearing that? Besides, our lineup of regular columns and departments has evolved since last we asked your opinion, as has the media environment in which we work.
So once again, we want to hear what you think! Use the form on the facing page or fill it out electronically (and save us some clerical work) by clicking the link online at www.desertexposure.com/survey. You can be anonymous, but if you choose to give us a name and address we'll enter you in a drawing for five highly collectible Desert Exposure mugs we've squirreled away since the paper's 10th anniversary celebration. Deadline for making your voice heard, on paper or online, is May 10, and we'll report on the results in our June issue.
Finally, April brings our annual invitation to readers to contribute their own writing to "the biggest little paper in the Southwest." Our 2014 writing contest kicks off this month, with the winners to be featured in our September issue.
As usual, the rules are simple: Submit your best article, short story, essay, poem or other piece of writing by JULY 15. Entries will be judged on literary quality and — this is important! — how well they express some aspect of life in Southwest New Mexico. You can enter as many different pieces of writing as the muse moves you to. Maximum length per prose entry is 6,000 words.
First prize is $100, plus publication in the September issue. Plus we will award up to four second prizes of $25 each plus publication in Desert Exposure. All other entries will be considered for future publication at our usual rates.
Mail entries to: Desert Exposure Writing Contest, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, or email to email@example.com. Include name and postal address, plus email address if you have one. Entries cannot be returned.
Go ahead, send us your best! It's your chance to be part of a nearly 20-year tradition of publishing the best writing about our corner of the Southwest.
David A. Fryxell is editor, publisher and delivery boy for Desert Exposure.
PO Box 191
Silver City, NM 88062