Skip to main content

Arts & Culture Department Celebrates Women’s Voices at Albuquerque Museum

Michelle Otero to read from memoir "Vessels" on March 19

March 13, 2023 -  Women’s History Month always sheds light on the impact of women’s lives in the Albuquerque community. At the Albuquerque Museum this month, the Department of Arts & Culture is partnering with the Museum Store to host Albuquerque female authors to share stories in their own voices.

Albuquerque writer Michelle Otero will read from her new book, Vessels: A Memoir of Borders, in the Ventana Salon inside the Albuquerque Museum on Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Vessels combines memory, poems, dreams, and letters to unveil Otero’s mythical journey toward herencia (heritage) and the divine. Otero takes on life’s traumas in a literary mosaic of loss, abuse, and the straddling of her most sacred spaces. Along the way, Otero channels her cultural angels, including Malinche, Coyolxahqui, and her everyday heroes and ancestors, to interrogate the cultural constructs of silence and shame women have endured, and the reclamation of the wisdom of the earth and of culture to guide us.

Otero, raised in Deming, N.M., holds a BA in history from Harvard and an MFA from Vermont College. Some of the book exposes her journey from small town girl to Ivy-league educated author. Otero reflects on the nature of her education, the culture shock she felt in Cambridge, and how she endured as one of few New Mexican—or even Latina—students there.

The title comes from the idea that the book is a vessel “constructed of my memories and my truth,” Otero notes. It’s a concept Otero has long pondered, a vessel as a “person regarded as a holder or receiver of something nonmaterial.”

“Each of us comes into this life to complete a sacred duty, to make the burden a little lighter for the generations that follow. I think of the writing process and storytelling as a form of alchemy, transforming pain into beauty and light,” says Otero.

Vessels is just out from FlowerSong Press. Otero, who calls the South Valley home, is writer, poet, community-based artist, and coach. In her work as a cultural consultant, she works at the intersections of cultural healing, race equity, and community engagement. She’s been active in social justice projects with an environmental focus, as exemplified in her work as City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate from 2018-2020. She is also the author of Malinche’s Daughter, an essay collection, and Bosque: Poems, part of the University of New Mexico Press City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate Series. Learn more about Otero’s work at

“It’s important for us to continue to feature women’s voices, because they give us more insight into the cultural experience of what it means to be New Mexican,” says Amanda Sutton, Arts & Culture special projects manager. “I appreciate we live in an environment here in Albuquerque that allows us to explore all those different ‘vessels’ that we can be, carrying our stories and traditions through time.”