UNM ar­chives yield a trea­sure trove of ma­te­rial re­lated to love, romance


Univer­sity’s ar­chives yield a trove of ro­man­tic trea­sures, from a no­to­ri­ous love/lust poem dis­trib­uted in fresh­man English classes to vin­tage wed­ding photos from New Mex­ico.

It’s been nearly 50 years since a poem was dis­trib­uted in fresh­man English classes at the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico, touch­ing off a furor that com­manded head­lines for weeks, rocked the univer­sity to its core and shocked peo­ple through­out the state

— al­though most of them likely never read a word of it.

“Love-Lust Poem,” writ­ten by San Fran­cisco beat poet Lenore Kan­del, was con­sid­ered ob­scene by many for its use of of­fen­sive words and de­scrip­tion of “per­verted acts.” It re­sulted in on­go­ing news­pa­per sto­ries in March and April of 1969, the sus­pen­sions of two UNM teach­ing as­sis­tants, the res­ig­na­tion of the chair­man of the English De­part­ment, stu­dent protests and threats from the state Leg­is­la­ture to cut fund­ing for the univer­sity and launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the school.

The state rev­enue com­mis­sion re­ported that nu­mer­ous 1969 state tax re­turns came with let­ters protest­ing “the sit­u­a­tion in our uni­ver­si­ties.”

On Thurs­day, Valen­tine’s Day, Kan­del’s poem will be part of the “Love in the Ar­chives” dis­play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cen­ter for

South­west Re­search (CSWR) at UNM’s Zim­mer­man Li­brary.

The exhibit, fea­tur­ing items from the UNM ar­chives, will also in­clude vin­tage wed­ding photos from New Mex­ico, love let­ters, dance cards, ro­man­tic mu­sic and dig­i­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tions of UNM pub­lic art — such as Luis Jiménez’s sculp­ture “Fi­esta Dancers” — which fit the theme.

“One day, when we were yakking about our col­lec­tions, we re­al­ized we all had cen­turies of ma­te­ri­als about love, lust, pas­sion and courtship,” said Heather Fos­ter, a CSWR grad­u­ate fel­low. “Shar­ing this pas­sion for and in the ar­chives is what we want to do with the com­mu­nity on Valen­tine’s Day.”

Por­tia Vescio, UNM’s ar­chiv­ist, said the exhibit is an open house aimed at giv­ing the pub­lic an idea of the va­ri­ety of items avail­able for re­search at CSWR and also on­line.

A com­mit­tee of 12, in­clud­ing Vescio, Fos­ter and other archivists, curators, li­brar­i­ans, con­ser­va­tion techs and dig­i­tal spe­cial­ists, as­sem­bled the items that will be dis­played.

“We all work on dif­fer­ent col­lec­tions and types of ma­te­ri­als, and we are only show­ing a few items from each col­lec­tion,” Vescio said. “The fo­cus is on ro­man­tic love, but we have a wide def­i­ni­tion of it. We will have LGBT ma­te­ri­als on dis­play. We have a lit­tle sec­tion called Out­law Love, from our Latin Amer­i­can col­lec­tion, which tells the love story of a Brazil­ian ban­dit cou­ple.”

The ban­dit cou­ple is Lampiáo (Vir­gulino Ferreira da Silva) and Maria Bonita, ac­tive in north­east Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s. Ac­cord­ing to Wendy Ped­er­sen, CSWR li­brary ser­vice co­or­di­na­tor, Lampiáo holds a place in Brazil­ian folklore that is some­where be­tween Pan­cho Villa, Billy the Kid and Robin Hood. Bonita was Lampiáo’s lover and like other ban­dit women in Brazil she car­ried weapons and knew how to use them.

The cou­ple, Ped­er­sen notes, was ro­man­ti­cized in Brazil as Bonnie and Clyde were in Amer­ica. And they ended up the same way, killed in an am­bush, along with nine other ban­dits, in 1938.

The gen­tler side of love will get its due as well.

From the ar­chive’s com­posers col­lec­tion, there will be ex­hibits of songs and sheet mu­sic that fea­ture “love” in the ti­tle or are ro­man­tic in na­ture.

There will also be a col­lec­tion of dance cards, on which, in days gone by, a woman would record the names of men with whom she in­tended to dance dur­ing suc­ces­sive dances at a for­mal ball.

“We have dance cards from two spe­cific eras, one from 1914 to 1917 and one from the 1930s,” Vescio said. “The cards from the 1930s are slightly more fancy. They are made of leather, or have metal cov­ers and some have pen­cils at­tached to them.”

Vescio said there will be a craft sta­tion where vis­i­tors can make their own Valen­tine cards, a 3-D prin­ter that can pro­duce small hearts and other love charms, a selfie sta­tion where cou­ples can pho­to­graph them­selves in a re­pro­duc­tion of an elab­o­rate frame from a past and more ro­man­tic era and also chances to win prizes such as passes to the Georgia O’Ke­effe Mu­seum or tick­ets to a Pope­joy Hall show.

The New Mex­ico Women’s Cho­rus will per­form love songs at 1:30 p.m.

As for Kan­del’s “Love-Lust Poem,” it’s still the stuff of con­tro­versy five decades on. Vescio said the poem will be cov­ered in the exhibit.

“Peo­ple can read it if they want,” she said. “But it will come with a warn­ing that it is very graphic.”


Luis Jiménez’s sculp­ture “Fi­esta Dancers” is among Univer­sity of New Mex­ico pub­lic art pieces touted in the “Love in the Ar­chives” exhibit Thurs­day at UNM’s Zim­mer­man Li­brary.

The story of Brazil­ian ban­dit lovers from the 1930s, such as this col­or­ful cou­ple, will be told in the Out­law Love por­tion of the “Love in the Ar­chives” dis­play on Valen­tine’s Day.

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