October 27, 2008

Just interviewed Terry Tempest Williams.

Just interviewed Terry Tempest Williams at the Boulderado, where I ran into this guy (who I’ll see tonight). He came off as modest, quiet and retiring, just trying to eat his lunch with a bandmate despite getting accosted by magazine-wielding wannabe talk show hosts.

I first saw Terry Tempest Williams last night at etown (which we’re mightly proud to humbly sponsor), and now thanks to Eric Reynolds we here at ele journal are videoing a conversation with the acclaimed writer, poet, naturalist at Boulderado in just two hours’ time. She‘s a lovely, calm, unpretentious and poetic soul—look forward to getting the video together and live on our site. I had to excuse myself within the first five minutes of the interview—I’ve had sporadic coughing fits for a few days—but Heather Mueller, our editor, bravely stepped in without preparation and pulled off an interview far better than any I’ve ever done, damn her.

BioTerry Tempest Williams has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. “So here is my question,” she asks, “what might a different kind of power look like, feel like, and can power be redistributed equitably even beyond our own species?” 

Williams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has served time in jail for acts of civil disobedience, testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. 

Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge – An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger – Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red – Passion and Patience in the Desert; and The Open Space of Democracy. Her new book Mosaic: Finding Beauty in a Broken World, will be published in 2008 by Pantheon Books. 

In 2006, Ms. Williams received the Robert Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. 

Terry Tempest Williams is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah and Moose, Wyoming, where her husband Brooke Williams is the executive director of The Murie Center. 

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