Thursday, July 14, 2005

Interviewing TTW

I've mentioned it before but I'll mention it again: I'm delighted that I'm interviewing Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge, Leap, Red, The Open Space of Democracy, and other fine environmental literature, for the next issue of A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments. It's our "Metropolitan Mosaic" issue. Here's a sneak peek at some of the questions (but not the answers, as those are forthcoming):

1. In the essays of The Open Space of Democracy, we are urged to commit to the ‘open space of democracy,’ where there is “room for dissent… for differences,” where beauty is “essential to our survival as a species.” In your work to save Utah’s redrock wildernesses—the millions of acres across Southern Utah as well as those lands just outside Castle Valley—you faced at times insulting resistance from elected representatives, government officials, and others. How do you respond to those who don’t appear willing to allow for, let alone acknowledge, differences and dissent? How can the landscape be used as a facilitator of a common good, where bureaucracy, corporate profit interests, and sense of community are so often at odds?

4. Tell us about your move in 1998 from Salt Lake City—that “city of salt and granite”—to Castle Valley, with its sign warning, “CAUTION: FALLING SKY.” What spurred the move? Following the community’s rally to preserve its open space, of which you and your husband were a keen part, has your perception of your role in community—the built environment, if you will—changed?

6. In 1995 you visited Hiroshima, Japan—a dual exploration of the A-bomb’s continuous impact on the region’s people, and the death by cancer of your mother, who was exposed to the fallout of America’s A-bomb tests in the 1950s. How difficult was it to put that journey into words, ultimately into the powerfully moving essay, “Hiroshima Journey?” Do you find other parallels between your life—between the anticipated and unanticipated impacts of technology on people and place—as strong as this one in locations far from home? Have or will you return to Hiroshima?

Folks, if you haven't yet read it, then click that link for "Hiroshima Journey," because it is an absolutely outstanding essay, especially if you know the context of Terry's mother's struggle with cancer. Maybe it's because I was in Hiroshima on the 40th anniversary of the bomb. Maybe it's because I'm constructing a poem on the subject. Most definitely it's because we are all affected by that singular event, and a great many of us continue to be affected.



Suzanne said...

Would you be a dear and recommend some more enviromental literature?

Pretty please?


Simmons B. Buntin said...

I'm not quite as up on the newer stuff, because most of the non-fiction I've been reading deals with urban and regional planning. But the two most life-changing books for me, which I read early in college, are A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey. I'm also a big fan of David Quammen, though haven't read much of his work lately. He wrote the "Natural Acts" column in Outside magazine when it first started, for many years, and those have been collected and are really good. If you like environmental philosophy then David Rothenberg is quite good. And in the current issue of we review Sharman Apt Russell's An Obsession with Butterflies, which is just outstanding. I'd like to read more of her work. Speaking of, some individual essayists with an environmental slant we've published that I recommend include Scott Calhoun, Gregory McNamee, Theresa Kishkan, Will Nixon, and Ray Isle. Some of the biggies, of course, are Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Wallace Stegner, Rick Bass...

Probably pick up a copy or two of the latest Orion for the best nature writers of the day.

Suzanne said...

Thank you!