Contact: Sharon Niederman




March 22, 2012





    Kathleen Anderson Knox, Executive Director of the Taos School of Music, announced today the names of the nineteen students selected through a highly competitive national audition process to participate in the 2012 summer season.

“We couldn’t be more pleased and excited about welcoming this special group of fine young chamber musicians to refine their performance skills at Taos Ski Valley this summer,” said Anderson Knox. “We’ve got a significant nation-wide representation, from the New England Conservatory, as well as graduates of Julliard, Curtis Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles, San Franscisco Music Conservatory, and University of Michigan School of Music.”

Taos School of Music, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious summer music programs, this year celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special concert series, Opus 50. As is customary, this group, ranging in age from 18 to 27, includes two pianists, five cellists, four violists, and eight violinists. They will receive instruction from some of the world’s leading chamber musicians, including Michael Tree, founding member of the Guarneri String Quartet.

For information on Opus 50 as well as Young Artist concerts to be performed at the Hotel St. Bernard in Taos Ski Valley and at Taos Community Auditorium  during June-August,  please go to http://taosschoolofmusic.com/.





First published by University of New Mexico Press in 2005, Sharon Niederman’s debut novel, Return to Abo, is now available on Kindle form Amazon. Inspired by stories the author collected from New Mexico ranch women, the novel tells the story of three generations of women struggling to get along on a ranch in southern New Mexico. In the process, Maggie Chilton returns to her small town to make peace with all she fled twenty years earlier – her tough homesteader mother, the boyfriend who broke her heart, the best friend who betrayed her, and the constraints of small town life. She must also deal with her rebellious adolescent daughter, as she tries to re-invent a life on the dry, windy ranch that is her inheritance.

The novel, set in the geographic and cultural heart of New Mexico, was named a Willa Award Finalist and won a First Place in Fiction from the National Federation of Press Women.



Downton Abbey Withdrawal

Downton Abbey Withdrawal
Life will go on now that Lady Mary and Matthew have gotten together. They will go through the 20’s together – can’t help but hope and wonder if they will do a “Midnight in Paris” spin with the Hemingway set. And how will they they weather the rise of the Third Reich? After all, Mary’s American “Grandmama” (Shirley MacLaine) is about to appear, and her name is Martha Levinson, widow of  merchant Isidore. Whom will they hide in the Abbey?

But oh dear, Sunday night will feel empty without the doings of the Crawleys and their staff. What I noticed during the final episode was the way language enforced class. That is, Lady Mary and Anna could have been true friends, except that Anna addressed Mary as “My Lady.”  The demand to attach a formal title to every communication provides a constant reminder of who’s who in the room. The address of “My Lord” and “My Lady” serve to elevate and separate the individuals from each other. Yet the tension – and the intrigue and fascination – of the series is centered on transcending those enforced class differences to reveal the humanity of the individuals as well as the extent to which relationships go beyond class.

And I am left with so many questions: What of Lady Edith’s would-be beau? Will O’Brien ever confess her betrayal to Cora? Will Thomas serve Lord Robert loyally; that is, can Thomas ever reform? Will there be an heir? What part will Lady Sybil and Branson play from Ireland? How long will the Dowager Countess live? Will Bates’ sentence be lifted? And did he actually murder his evil ex-wife?

Until they re-appear, Sunday nights will be dreary indeed.

Canyon Road Winter Twilight

Canyon Road Winter Twilight
Do not say you will come back
When it is warmer
When you have time
When the light is better
When the galleries are open
When the chestnut trees are green
When a woman in red sits on the garden bench
When the blue gate is wide open
When the duende seizes you
When you are not obsessing
When you are not regretting
When you are not counting
Your losses
See the Hunger Moon scale the Sangres
Press the shutter. Now.
Sharon Niederman, February, 2012

Canyon Road, Santa Fe

Here is the information regarding Irma’s gathering/celebration in ABQ, NM.
Please post in all locations, methods, as you see fit to spread the word.
Friday 9 March 2012, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Susan Ford Bales Room; (Gerald & Betty Ford Library Building) ; BOSQUE SCHOOL,
Albuquerque, New Mexico
>Learning Road off Coors Boulevard on the west side of the Rio Grande in the bosque<
It is a lovely nature based location, easy to find, with parking and ease of accessibility.
The scheduled day is at the end of a school break week making it ideal.

FRIENDS OF ELMER are organizing comfort foods reflecting what Irma often served to “all her children” (beans, corn bread, Santa Domingo tamales, ham, cole slaw, cucumbers and onions in vinegar, “Green Fluffy” etc. (Those wanting to assist with food, supplies, are invited to call John @ 505-615-5090).
Please join in this celebration by bringing something Irma-related to share as a basis for personal story about Irma, her indomitable spirit, her rich long life.
Irma finally has all the elbow room she needs for offering the blessings of her connecting love and compassion.
RSVP: flaminggourmet@yahoo.com
Questions: 505-615-5090

I am happy to announce that my novel, RETURN TO ABO, will soon be released in paperback and e-book by University of New Mexico Press. This story of three generations of women living and struggling together on a ranch in dry, dusty central New Mexico was a finalist for the WILLA Award for Contemporary Western Women’s Fiction from Women Writing the West.

Abo Ruins, outside Mountainair, New Mexico

Set in the geographic and emotional heart of New Mexico, RETURN TO ABO tells the tale of Maggie, who is drawn back to the tiny home town she fled twenty years earlier to confront her crusty homesteader mother, the boyfriend who broke her heart, the harsh land she loves, and her tangled relationship with her rebellious teenage daughter. In these pages, the personal histories of the characters are entwined with the authentic history of the people of New Mexico. As Maggie discovers the secrets of her past, she grows beyond the beliefs that have driven her away, to build a future for her family and for the land that is her home.


1. Did I leave it under the bed
With the sandal I kicked off last summer
Dull with the dust of unintended neglect
In need of a good polish
If I can just  find the right color?

2. “Why can’t you be like everyone else?”
I don’t know. It was 1966
Recently, I found my prom photo:
Blue gown, hair sprayed straight
My date, long dead of AIDS.

3. “Your big mouth will get you in trouble.”
Shame it out of me if you can
Shake me when I’m four
Beat me for a bad dream
Tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

4. You’re the artist, I’m the hack
Paper the house with rejection slips – not mine!
I encouraged you, supported you, paid the bills
A convenient arrangement
It worked until it didn’t.

5. In some Santa Rosa motel room
Restaurant closed, TV disconnected, mystery finished
Setting the sum of all I know and have read
To the tune of I-40 big rigs
I dare to pick up my pen.

Sharon Niederman, 2012


Due out from the Countryman Press March 5, 2012

. . .Why do certain natural settings of mountains, groves, streams, and rocks, and certain cultural properties and built landscapes, such as shrines, churches, temples, and monuments, evoke feelings of awe, wholeness, and belonging to a sphere much larger than our everyday reality?

At sites such as Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Canyon, and Taos Mountain, at the Earth Journey stupa in El Rito, the Temple Montefiore cemetery in Las Vegas, and the Marigold Day of the Dead Parade in Albuquerque, or walking the grounds of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, or watching the Mescalero Apaches’ ceremonial Dance of the Mountain Gods, peace, connection, a sense of being blessed, of purpose, of participating in a drama beyond our own, temporarily overwhelms our petty “monkey mind” without our conjuring it or trying for it.

It matters not what our individual religious beliefs are. Such places speak to us in their own subtle, strong, and silent language if we are the least bit open. All I can say is: Welcome to New Mexico!. . .

What struck me so forcefully, from the time I first traveled through New Mexico in 1972, is the peaceful coexistence of so many different, clearly articulated spiritual paths. An early drive through the Jemez amazed me with the sight, in close proximity, in this narrow canyon, of Buddhist, Catholic, and Native American communities.  . .

This book highlights special places in New Mexico where we may retreat to repair our souls, rest from the world, seek peace in a community where the dedicated, such as the Benedictine monks at Christ in the Desert Monastery, devote their lives to offering just such a possibility to guests. One may join in the practice of prayers or meditation, or simply sit by the flowing river in silence and watch the changing light on the rock walls of the canyon. . .

Please visit my updated website to learn about upcoming events for SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO.





Today our dear friend Irma Bailey passed away. She would have been 95 in March. According to her wishes, there will be no funeral and no memorial service. That is a hard one. Her friends around the USA and among the Pueblo and Navajo communities will  miss the opportunity to gather one last time and celebrate. Her favorite song was “On the Road Again,” and now her spirit is traveling free.

Irma was born and raised on a homestead/ranch near Clovis, NM. She met her husband, Wayne, while they were both students at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, NM, where Irma went on a music scholarship. They worked together as traders of Indian arts – pottery, weaving, silver, kachinas – and she knew more about these beautiful things, and the artists who made them, than anyone. Irma and Wayne would load up their motor home and bring their wares to museums and collectors around the country. I was fortunate to meet Irma when she was 77 years old and starting a new chapter in her life.  After Wayne passed on, she tried “retiring,” but sitting home and taking it easy was not her way. After two months of that, she got herself a new rig, a new driver, and went into business for herself, dealing only in “the best of the best.”

She became incredibly successful. The phone rang constantly at her house, and people came from Dayton, Boston, Atlanta, El Paso, Minneapolis, everywhere, really, to do business and to sit in her magic circle of warmth and generosity. If there was such a thing as a sexy 85 year-old, that was her – bright red hair, sparkling blue eyes, unstoppable sense of humor. And she still shopped at Victoria’s Secret. A yellow T-Bird with the license plate “IMATOY” sat in her driveway.

I shared dozens of cups of coffee with her at her kitchen table, where you never knew who would turn up;  and went on the road with her and saw how an “old time” trader worked. When we visited a Potowotome village across the Canadian border, she purchased all the baskets, with the result that the villagers would make more. I attended a couple of the shows she did at Harvard, and I assisted her with presentations at University of New Mexico.  We went to Chimayo to buy chile and eat at El Rancho de Chimayo. Christmas Eve at her Albuquerque home, with red chile, tamales from Santo Domingo, beans and posole was the highlight of the year, and people flew in from everywhere to experience it. On any day,  you could meet a medicine man and a museum curator in her living room.

Irma serves up a breakfast with her red-eye gravy.

Here is just a bit of Irma’s wisdom:

*”Wear it all”

*You can’t do it part-time”

“I can still get up earlier, stay up later, and work anyone under the table”

“You can’t keep a good woman down.”

Today we say goodbye

Irma Bailey and Kokopelli