Terry Tempest Williams has long been a beloved scribe for the timeless beauty of the world we live in, and the tribulations of the humans who too often fail to value it. In this deeply moving interview she speaks out for some of most disavowed individuals on the planet-prairie dogs threatened with extinction and Rwandan refugees. What could the two possibly have in common? She explains, “The plight of the prairie dog, the extermination of a species, and the extermination of a people are predicated on the same impulse: prejudice, cruelty, ignorance and arrogance, circling around issues of power and justice. Until we can begin to see the world whole, even holy, we are destined to this fractured, fragmented, disconnected world that literally creates the seabed of war.” Ms. Tempest Williams deftly draws meaning out of the darkest moments of fear and devastation with inspiring stories of rodents who pray at sunrise and sunset, and a mother who, after losing her child to the ravages of war, creates a mosaic sunflower out of the rubble.
Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, environmentalist, and award-winning author. She is a fierce advocate for freedom of speech and has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Lannan Literary Fellowship in creative nonfiction and the 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship. She served as naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History and has 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. She is a columnist for The Progressive magazine. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
Her books include:
- Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (Pantheon 1991)
- An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field (Vintage 1995)
- Leap (Vintage 2001)
- Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (Vintage Books 2002)
- Finding Beauty in a Broken World (Pantheon 2008)
- The Open Space of Democracy: (Wipf & Stock Pub 2010)
- When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice (Sarah Crichton Books: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2012)
To learn more about the work of Terry Tempest Williams go to www.terrytempestwilliams.com.
Topics Explored in this Dialogue:
- What Prairie Dogs have to teach us
- Why a mosaic is like a community
- How many words there are in the vocabulary of a prairie dog
- How art can help to heal the ravages of war
- Why it is so important for you to witness both beauty and sorrow
Program Number: 3294 Host: Michael Toms Interview Date: 12/7/2008