You are hereMeet the Author: Southwestern Legend Terry Tempest Williams at the Durango Arts Center
Meet the Author: Southwestern Legend Terry Tempest Williams at the Durango Arts Center
We could not be more thrilled to be inviting Terry Tempest Williams back to Durango for an event in celebration of her new book When Women Were Birds, a lyrical meditation on death, motherhood, the natural world and voice that will stop you in your tracks with its powerful beauty.
This event will take place at the Durango Arts Center, so we can accomodate a larger crowd. THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT AND TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.
Doors and cash bar open at 6:00. Book signing to follow presentation.
“I thought I was writing a book about voice. I thought I would proclaim as a woman that we must speak the truth of our lives at all costs.” —Terry Tempest Williams in When Women Were Birds
Twenty years ago, Terry Tempest Williams published her iconic book Refuge, a juxtaposition of natural history and haunting, personal tragedy. Written just five years after her mother’s death from ovarian cancer, it was partly about the flooding of Great Salt Lake, which in turned flooded a bird refuge. In large part, however, it was about the death of seven women in her family from cancer (there had been nine mastectomies, as well). The cancer was linked to exposure to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. It’s often placed in the company of classics such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Marilynne Robinson’s Mother Country.
Before her death, Williams’s mother gave Terry her journals. Later, when Williams went to read them, longing to hear her mother’s voice again, she found each one was blank. Through When Women Were Birds, Williams meditates on why her mother might have left the journals unfilled. What did that signify to her mother? What was her mother telling her?
But what I realize . . . is that I will never be able to say what is in my heart, because words fail us, because it is in our nature to protect, because there are times when what is public and what is private must be discerned. There is comfort in keeping what is sacred inside us not as a secret, but as a prayer.
In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation on voice and the strength found in silences. Williams says that she wrote Refuge from the point of view of a daughter; she wrote When Women Were Birds from the point of view of a woman. It is the book, she says, she was meant to write.
I hear my mother’s voice.
In the emptiness of this beloved landscape that has embraced me all my life, I hold my mother’s journals as another paradox, journals without words that create a narrative of the imagination.
My mother’s gift is the Mystery.
Each day I begin with the empty page.
Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge, and, most recently, Finding Beauty in a Broken World. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
Autho photo by Marion Ettinger
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