Santa Fe Writer Speaks On Technical Communication & Poetry

SOCORRO, N.M. April 4, 2011 – Santa Fe author and poet Michael Scofield will give a special presentation at New Mexico Tech on Wednesday, April 13, to celebrate National Poetry Month. The presentation will be at 7 p.m. in Skeen Library 212.

Event host Dr. Mary Dezember said Scofield’s talk on “How Writing Poetry Can Strengthen Your Technical Writing” will be a real benefit to the Tech community, thanks to Scofield’s decades of experience as a professional technical writer and a poet and author.

spacer-3tenthsinchwide MICHAEL-SCOFIELD
Michael Scofield
poet, author and technical communication professional

'Yes to All This'


Pink diamonds burst from old dark

wood of plums blessing this home, bought

as talisman against the past.  Lord, mark

us kneeling naked at dawn, prayers fraught

with thanks that opening memory's closets brought

tears last night, not rage.  Father, stark

in death as your ledgers, millionaire self-taught,

molder with grace, sad false patriarch.

Up! Robins coax the sun; blossoms

turn its glare to smiles and winks.  Here

in the bedroom sweet flesh rises, yawns,

falls to more lovemaking.  Who comes

curious finds a lifetime's slaves to fear

bucking like goats or moving smooth as swans.

-- By Michael Scofield

From Silicon Valley Escapee


“Michael Scofield is a diverse and impressive writer,” said Dezember, who is the chair of the Communication, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, or CLASS, Department at Tech. Also during the special presentation, Scofield invited Dezember to read from her poetry manuscript, Earth–Marked Like You, to be published by Sunstone Press of Santa Fe. After the presentation, Scofield will sign books during a reception. The event is free and open to the public.

Scofield’s history as a writer started with 20 years at Sunset Magazine and Books. Then, for eight years, he and his wife, Noreen, worked in Silicon Valley writing corporate newsletters and marketing reports for high tech companies.

“We called ourselves marcom writers – for marketing communications,” Scofield said. “Our business really took off after I started writing poetry. I found that I was able to inject into whatever backgrounder or newsletter I was writing a poetic device to let readers picture what I was describing.”

In his presentation, Scofield aims to encourage New Mexico Tech students to explore their creative side in order to improve their technical writing skills.

“For students at New Mexico Tech – especially the Technical Communication majors – there’s big money to be made as marcom writers,” Scofield said. “One of the main obstacles is in the thinking itself. For example, engineers often think in terms of polysyllabics and they think in passive voice. It takes some charm to persuade them that short words and active verbs are more effective.”

The Scofields made their mark in technical writing by catering to the needs of editors at technical magazines, the Wall Street Journal and in-house publications that report on technology. Scofield said he developed a particular talent at translating technobabble into readable news releases. Writing poetry helped him hone his technical writing skills.

“What comes out is a sort of prose that is a lot more fun to read,” he said. “The result is that technical editors are far more likely to read it and want to publish it.”

In his talk, Scofield will give specific tips to students interested in writing better. He will also read from some of his works, including poetry and a novel.

The Scofields left Palo Alto for Santa Fe in 1995. They envisioned retiring to New Mexico and writing poetry. The author of two chapbooks and two earlier books of poems, Silicon Valley Escapee and Whirling Backward Into The World, Scofield also has published books on topics as diverse as bird-watching and furniture upholstering. His latest collection of poems, Bewilderment, will be published next year.

“Now that I've entered my golden years, Bewilderment seems an appropriate title for this third collection. Is there any good reason for consciousness, a lot of us wonder?” he said in a press release from Sunstone Press.

“His poetry is rich, growing out of a heart seeking authenticity in a resistant world,” Dezember said. “His fiction captures the awkwardness of being human, often highlighting characters whose awkwardness is revealed in what they believe is a display of finesse. He has the uncanny skill of showing through the speech and the actions of the characters their often self-centered motivations and their inability of self-reflection that is symptomatic of the socio-political climate in which they revel.”

The Scofields discovered New Mexico Tech while staying at the Casa Blanca B&B to visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. They decided to explore the campus and found the staff and students to be extremely friendly and polite. They even found that they liked the cafeteria food.

“I was the editor of the student scientific magazine at Yale University and I’ve always had a big interest in science,” he said. “I thought there must be some humanities taught at Tech, so I got a course catalog and saw art history and creative writing. I wondered who taught those courses, so I called up Mary Dezember. Noreen and I got to be friends with Mary and I just respect the hell out of what she’s doing. She’s such a dynamo.”

Scofield received his Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree from Vermont College for the Arts in 2002. In 2006, Sunstone Press published Whirling Backward into the World, his second collection of poems.

Also in 2006, Sunstone published Acting Badly, the first novel in his Santa Fe trilogy. The sequel, Making Crazy, followed in 2009. Sunstone hopes to publish the finale, Smut Busters, later this year.

Scofield was inspired to tackle the novel format in 2003 as President George W. Bush launched the war in Iraq.

“Something inside me roiled,” he said. “I can’t stand this – a preemptive war. I was getting stomach cramps and I thought I’d better write a story to try to relieve them.”

One lesson he learned from his years in marketing communications is that bosses who command respect will have employees who are diligent and productive. If employees do not respect the head of the company, they will act badly.

“The same is true for a country,” he said. “I created a cast of characters who were acting badly during the first weeks of the invasion of Iraq, hence the title, Acting Badly.”

The novel presents a dozen fictional Santa Feans trying to love, yet mistreating, each other. The aggression that dominates American life today goads them into brandishing their dark sides, he said.

In Making Crazy, four uneasy couples trample each other's lives in the search for love during another beautiful Santa Fe spring. In the novel, Scofield explores the emptiness of love under false pretenses. As mishaps pile up, the increasingly frantic dance forces everyone to abandon compromise in hope of a fresh start. The upcoming novel in the trilogy, Smut Busters, is Scofield’s attempt to tackle the thriller genre.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech