This is one woman’s story of growing up downwind of an atomic testing site in a wild, beautiful, and “virtually uninhabited” area near the Great Salt Lake in Utah. “My family were some of the virtual uninhabitants,” Terry Tempest Williams says. In 1983, as her mother was dying of cancer, there was a catastrophic flood of the Great Salt Lake which threatened the wildlife on its flood plain. The flooding was a natural event and the nuclear testing was a by-product of technology. Both were devastating. Nine women in her family developed cancer, and seven of them are now dead. Williams has emerged from this background as a poetically and politically aware naturalist and author, with powerful personal perspectives on grief, love, and the spirituality of nature, lake and desert. She speaks with rich insight on cancer and creativity, living boldly in the moment, and the meaning of refuge. “We no longer can be complacent to the dark side,” says Williams. “It’s where the source of our power lies. . . The only risk to ourselves is if we choose to remain silent.” (hosted by Justine Toms)
Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, environmentalist, and award-winning author. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. She is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah.
Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books including:
- Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (Pantheon 1991)
- Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (Vintage Books 2002)
- When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice (Sarah Crichton Books: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2012)
- The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks(Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2016)
To learn more about the work of Terry Tempest Williams go to www.coyoteclan.com.
Also, regarding the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition go to www.bearsearscoalition.org.
Topics Explored in This Dialogue
- Why refuge is important
- How poetry can feed your soul
- Why you need to express your truth
- How nature speaks to us
- What is the importance of making peace with your ancestors
- What is the healing quality of risk-taking
Host: Justine Willis Toms Interview Date: 11/4/1991 Program Number: 2294