Many among Lake Chapala’s colony of English language writers connected with their muses only after retiring in Mexico.
Judy King, though, is one of a handful who have lived and worked in Mexico for much of their adult lives. It’s no surprise, then, that much of her written work shares knowledge and experience gleaned from nearly thirty years of life as an expat.
Her first book, Living at Lake Chapala (find it here on Amazon), is a popular handbook for those making the cultural transition.
Judy bring to her books a craftsmanship honed during her career as a journalist. Her articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. She also published the widely read e-zine Mexico Insights for twelve years and served as Editor-in-Chief at the Lake Chapala Review.
Her work is featured in Head For Mexico: The Renegade Guide (here on Amazon).
She is also one of several local contributors to the award-winning anthology Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows (here on Amazon).
Judy is currently working on a new book scheduled for release early in 2019.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
American poet Harold Witter Bynner (1881-1968), divided his time between homes in Chapala and Taos, New Mexico for nearly 30 years, and had the distinction of introducing both D.H. Lawrence and Tennessee Williams to the Lake Chapala area. Williams had visited Mexico before Bynner hosted him in 1947, but Lawrence’s trip in 1923 was his first of three visits, and the Englishman might never have come to Mexico had not he and Bynner met quite by happenstance in Taos.
Lawrence and his wife Frieda had left England in 1919 for a self-imposed exile that the Englishman called his “savage pilgrimage”. Their intended destination was Taos, New Mexico, but their route was quite circuitous, beginning with almost two years of travel through Italy. Malta, Germany, and Austria. They left Europe early in 1922 and arrived in Taos late that year by way of Ceylon and Australia.
Bynner, having met a Chinese professor with whom he had begun collaborating on the translation of T’ang Dynasty poems, had traveled to China during 1920-21 to study its literature and culture. Upon his return to the U.S. he embarked on an extensive lecture tour which brought him to Santa Fe, New Mexico in February 1922. Exhausted and ill, he canceled the rest of his tour and remained there.
Taos had first come to the attention of the Eastern artistic establishment in 1898 when Harpers Weekly published an article illustrated with work by artist Ernest Blumenschein, who had arrived in Taos while touring the U.S. and decided to stay. Within a few years other American and European-born artists joined them. Lawrence had often discussed the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends, and in a 1915 note wrote:
“I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilization with a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…”
Many artists were drawn to Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy heiress from Buffalo, New York. She had hosted art salons in Florence, Italy, and Manhattan before settling in Taos in 1917, where she married her third husband and carried on her salon tradition. Luhan hosted artists, writers, and other luminaries including Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz in Taos. Even D. H. Lawrence painted while in Taos, and his work is on display at La Fonda Hotel on the Taos Plaza, signed with the pseudonym “Lorenzo”.
Artist Dorothy Brett arrived in Taos with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda in 1924, sowing the seeds of a conflict that fully bloomed upon Lawrence’s death in 1930. Luhan, Brett, and Lawrence’s wife Frieda each considered themselves in some way Lawrence’s true muse, and argued over the disposition of Lawrence’s ashes. To prevent Mabel from stealing and scattering them, Frieda had them mixed with concrete and formed into a block which remains to this day on the D. H. Lawrence Ranch above Taos.
Luhan’s salons continued, and in the years following Lawrence’s death her guests included Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, and Thornton Wilder.
Following WWI, a new generation of writers and artists arrived in Taos to turn the page on the town’s artistic heritage, but Lawrence’s works The Plumed Serpent and Mornings In Mexico arguably owe their existence to his Taos connection and friendship with Witter Bynner.
Today, as the Lake Chapala area is poised to celebrate the centennial of Lawrence’s first visit, dozens of writers who call it home carry on the literary tradition.
Browse the Authors Gallery and find links to their bios and reviews of their work here.
Read more here about Lake Chapala’s long-standing literary tradition.
John Thomas Dodds is a student of life whose unending fascination with his subject is distilled in in fifteen Amazon-published works. Most are poetic, but Dodds has lately ventured into fiction and has even written books for children.
The themes of Dodds’ poetry are universal and expressed with a simplicity that invites readers of every genre to follow him on shared journeys. He captures the simple joy of being, and the peace of forgiveness and forgetfulness. His works are richly introspective, and his self-reflection brooks no boundaries.
Relationships between couples play prominently across John’s work. From the most romantic of poetry to meditations on growing old together (Aging Beautifully In Light Of You), he reaffirms the power of lifelong love.
John’s first novel, A Long Way From Nowhere, is set in Dallas, Texas during the social turbulence of the 1960’s. It draws upon his own life as a young man, and affords a provocative view of America’s identity crisis seen through eyes of a young Canadian as he sheds the last of his youthful innocence.
Dodds’s background as a teacher steps into the foreground in his two works crafted for children: A Sneaky Twitch of an Itch (illustrated), and A Journey Home.
Learn more about John, and find links to his work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Discover dozens of Lakeside authors and scores of their Amazon books here.
Everything about Georg Rauch’s life seems improbable. It was improbable that a young, partly Jewish Austrian boy should have escaped the Holocaust, much less been mustered into the Wehrmacht. Improbable that he should have survived combat on the Eastern front, internment in a Russian POW camp, or the illness which he contracted while in captivity.
The only thing not improbable about Georg Rauch was that his towering talent would one day overshadow his tortuous past to make him a world-reknowned artist. Or that his autobiography – which has sold over 70,000 copies – would one day attract almost as much interest as his art.
Georg Rauch passed away in 2006, but his artistic legacy shines even more brightly than his storied life, and thanks to the efforts of his wife Phyllis a new generation is discovering both his art and his story.
Learn more about Georg, and find links to his work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Don’t miss the exhibition of Georg’s art at Jocotopec’s Casa de Cultura (map here) from Sept. 8-28, 2018.
Learn more about dozens of Lakeside authors and scores of their Amazon books Amazon here.
Actually, Margaret is not just a poetic talent, but also an accomplished short story writer.
Her poetry appears in the company of similarly gifted authors between the covers of several anthologies, including works by Lakeside’s Not Yet Dead Poets. Both her poetry and short stories appear in a collection by a group of Lakeside female authors, and she’s also a frequent and popular performer at local poetry readings.
Margaret is also the literary executor for the late Jim Tipton’s poetic works.
Read more about Margaret, and find links to her work and reviews on Amazon here.
Writers have probably been sharing company and debating ideas since Gutenberg invented moveable type, more recently in the salons and bookstores of 1920’s Paris, and post-WWII in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s North Beach. These days, etailers like Amazon Books afford readers access to the work of authors so scattered around the globe that they’re unlikely ever to meet each other except online.
There remains, though, a community of writers who still embrace the value of living and working among each other. They’re to be found in a string of villages along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, drawn by the same pull which has attracted English language writers and poets to the area for nearly a century. The continuing stream of newly arriving writers leaves no doubt that its appeal is stronger now than ever before.
Today, readers can choose from nearly 100 Amazon titles by more than 30 authors who have learned to their delight that the Riberas de Chapala – the shores of Lake Chapala – can coax even the most reluctant muse into fruitful inspiration.
These book authors, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. The work of scores more – including, poets, short storytellers, essayists, memoirists, and humorists – appear often in anthologies and in the area’s English language periodicals. In fact, it’s hard to pass a day here without sighting one or more – writers going about their daily affairs on along cobblestone streets.
They work from homes scattered around a picturesque, mile-high lake nestled among the mountains of western Mexico. The area boasts a unique micro-climate known for sun-bathed winters and a welcome absence of steamy, subtropical summers.
And while the seclusion which many writers crave is not hard to come by, these wordsmiths frequently come together for readings, workshops, and the area’s annual writer’s conference. Experienced writers often coach aspiring writers, and it’s not uncommon to see a budding author grow from apprentice to journeyman to maestro under the influence of expert coaching.
The world of publishing has been turned on its head in the past couple of decades, but it seems a fair bet that writers – regardless of changes imposed by technology – will continue congregating here over the next 100 years as they have in the first.
Read more about this area’s rich literary tradition on these related posts:
Janice Kimball has lived at least three lives. The first was as a mother and wife. The second is as an award-winning artist and talented textiles designer. And the third – which often vies with the second – is as a writer with a very distinctive voice.
Kimball’s book Three in a Cage is an uplifting story that tackles the real meaning of family, and – except for the “translated” musings of a talking parrot – is at its heart a true account set on the shores of Lake Chapala. The author calls her style “creative non-fiction”.
The tale revolves around an eclectic trio of roomates. Jani is the owner of a Mexican art studio, where she lives with native weaver Francisco and a chatty parrot named Max Bird. The story soon unfolds to reveal that they came together through happenstance, and that all three had tragic pasts.
Jani was once a self-described stalker’s wife, a woman who constantly feared for the safety of her children at their father’s hands. Her nightmares condemned her to a lifetime of insomnia and branded her with what later came to be known as post-traumatic stress.
Francisco, smuggled across the border at age fourteen to seek wages sufficient to help support his twelve younger siblings and mother back in Mexico, fell into tragic circumstances which left him a wandering, virtual amnesiac for years.
Max, an unusually articulate and insightful parrot, was kidnapped as a fledgling by poachers to be sold illegally. He has a crippled foot and clipped wings.
Together, these three attempt to build a new shared life on the ruins of their “ lost identities.” As they comfort each other and build a mutual trust, their wounds begin to heal and they become bound to each other as tightly as any family of shared blood. The route to their new lives, however, is sometimes circuitous.
This is an allegorical tale about an escape from the confines of traditional thinking which enables this earthbound trio to “fly without wings.” It’s a book to which ‘children’ aged 8 to 80 can connect equally, and its lesson is one that benefits well from Kimball’s retelling.