Press Release: Author and Environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams to Speak at UMass Dartmouth Oct. 23
Date: October 14, 2008
The event, hosted by UMD's English Department, Women's Studies Program, Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability, is free and open to the general public.
Utah-native Terry Tempest Williams is often described as "a citizen writer"--a writer who speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. She is a naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, whose works explore how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice.
In her latest book, "Finding Beauty in a Broken World," Williams takes readers on a voyage to a mosaic school in Ravenna, Italy; a prairie-dog settlement in Utah's Bryce Canyon; and a small, genocide-stricken village in Rwanda. She suggests that by uniting with each other and with the land we can piece together our fragmented public and private lives to find meaning and beauty in our world.
"When we choose to be present we can live in a heightened state of awareness," Williams explained in an interview for the Salt Lake City newsletter, The Inkslinger. "A dissolving of boundaries, even our own prejudices begin to dissipate. It's about being broken open. Finding Beauty in a Broken World is about creating beauty in the world we find. The degree of our awareness is the degree of our aliveness."
Williams' arrival is highly anticipated by the UMass Dartmouth community, who kicked off its new summer reading project with Williams' book Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert. The book, which explores Williams' love and commitment to the desert, offers important wisdom for the 1,500 incoming freshmen who received the book during June orientation.
"Williams' writings teach us how to merge conflicting positions--to break new ground," English and Women's Studies professor Jeannette E. Riley asserted in her August 28, 2008 convocation talk to the class of 2012. "[She] encourages new ways of thinking about who we are and who we are becoming, as well as our community and the work that we engage in each and every day here at UMass Dartmouth."
In addition to reading Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, incoming freshmen participated in a blog created for the reading project at http://red-umassd.blogspot.com. Guided by student and instructor bloggers, new students discussed the novel and debated such topics as encouraging individuals to act as a community and the virtue of pausing to appreciate the small things in a fast-paced world.
"[We are] forced to become one as the Class of 2012. But we all still hold our own individual stories, our own places we have been," one student wrote. "Together, we become one big story, several places and experiences pieced to become one, like a quilt...I feel as though in reading Terry Tempest Williams' book 'Red,' we are sewing her into the quilt that is the UMass Dartmouth faculty and students. We are bringing her into our community through her words."
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.
In 2006, 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.