V.B. Price


Chaco Trilogy


88 pages

6x8 inches

ISBN: 1-888809-10-8



Chaco Trilogy is an exercise in surrender and attention, in being where you are—in this case the severe, spiritually magnetic landscape and ruins of Chaco Canyon in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. A collection of three suites of five poems each—“Chaco Body”, “Chaco Elegies”, and “Chaco Mind”—the trilogy has been composed by V.B. Price over almost forty years of contemplative exercise and risk taking in the canyon. Site of the most extensive urban ruins of pre-Pueblo, Anasazi people, or as the Hopi call their ancestors Hisatsinom, Chaco Canyon is the center of the earth, a cosmological precinct that connects past and present, earth and sky, night and day, life and death. It is a place where ambiguity and shadow rule, where light and distance become the here and now.

“It was a matter of relationship—not of me as a thing and Chaco as a thing, but of what was possible between us. In exactly the same way as I am catalyzed by certain friends, by the atmosphere of candor and acceptance that allows me to be more than I imagined or scripted, Chaco permitted me to feel it all and likewise to be felt by it in my entirety…I felt that the canyon understood me—my hiddeness, my desire to be as anonymous as the human lives that once inhabited the canyon, my attraction to emptiness and to the free safety I feel in dangerous weathers.”

—from the Introduction

A section of the trilogy, Chaco Body, produced in collaboration with photographer Kirk Gittings, was first published by Artspace Press in 1991. “Chaco Body” also exists as a collaborative portfolio of photographs and poems which is owned and exhibited in museums and private collections across the west. A reading of “Chaco Body” by Price in ruins and landscape of the canyon and with Gittings’ photographs was also produced as a PBS documentary and KNME-TV’s “Colores”, and distributed nationally.

Few of us know the splendor of a grand and difficult journey that leaves us refreshed at the end, ready to go forward again as V.B. Price does. A great and ongoing adventure of the spirit is recorded here and we can offer high praise in return for the rare gift of understanding and love of place that a wise and devoted guide, sure footed always, offers in all our names.

—Lucille Adler

For V.B. Price, the power of Chaco Canyon is irresistible. In this collection of poems, he penetrates the mysteries of the ancient people who built the splendid Chacoan towns and departed. The haunting echoes of their voices linger below the canyon cliffs and around the shoulders of Fajada Butte, and poets like Price hear them as ‘lullabies in the night.’

—Marc Simmons

These writings are very healing, to both memory and spirit. I am reminded of the space of beingness where time remains both changed and unchanged—and through these words, I sense that I am in that space. Not just because I am a direct descendent of the Chacoans but because I am a breathing being with capabilities to take in the land, the place—the memory of existence.

—Rina Swentzell

V.B. Price, 60, is a poet, political and environmental columnist, editor, and teacher who has lived and worked in New Mexico for 40 years. He is a member of the faculty at the University of New Mexico’s General Honors Program where he teaches seminars on Greek and Roman literature in translation, urban issues, and world poetry. He is also an adjunct associate professor at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning. Price is currently a columnist for the Albuquerque Tribune. Price’s dozen or more books include: Seven Deadly Sins (La Alameda Press); Anasazi Architecture and American Design, co-edited with Baker Morrow for UNM Press; A City at the End of the World (UNM Press). A new book with Baker Morrow, In the Anasazi Landscape, is forthcoming from the University of Colorado Press. Price’s poetry and prose have appeared in more than 70 national and international periodicals since 1962. He has served as architecture editor for Artspace Magazine of Albuquerque and Los Angeles, is the former editor of New Mexico Magazine, was city editor of the New Mexico Independent, and was the founding editor of the late Century Magazine.In 1996, Price was given the first ever ACLU-NM First Amendment Award of excellence in journalism. In 1989, he was awarded the “Friend of the Environment” award from the New Mexico Conservation Voters Alliance. In 1984, he received an award of merit from the New Mexico Society of Architects for architectural criticism. And in 1975, Price was given the Governor’s Cultural Properties Review Committee’s award of honor for his “penetrating provocative editorials in defense of New Mexico’s cultural environment.” Price is married to the artist Rini Price. They have two sons and two grandchildren.