Daniel A. Olivas
What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwestby Susan Wittig Albert
How do women experience the vast, arid, rugged land of the American Southwest? The Story Circle Network, a national organization dedicated to helping women write about their lives, posed this question, and nearly three hundred women responded with original pieces of writing that told true and meaningful stories of their personal experiences of the land. From this
How do women experience the vast, arid, rugged land of the American Southwest? The Story Circle Network, a national organization dedicated to helping women write about their lives, posed this question, and nearly three hundred women responded with original pieces of writing that told true and meaningful stories of their personal experiences of the land. From this deep reservoir of writing—as well as from previously published work by writers including Joy Harjo, Denise Chávez, Diane Ackerman, Naomi Shihab Nye, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gloria Anzaldua, Terry Tempest Williams, and Barbara Kingsolver—the editors of this book have drawn nearly a hundred pieces that witness both to the ever-changing, ever-mysterious life of the natural world and to the vivid, creative, evolving lives of women interacting with it.
Through prose, poetry, creative nonfiction, and memoir, the women in this anthology explore both the outer landscape of the Southwest and their own inner landscapes as women living on the land—the congruence of where they are and who they are. The editors have grouped the writings around eight evocative themes:
- The way we live on the land
- Our journeys through the land
- Nature in cities
- Nature at risk
- Nature that sustains us
- Our memories of the land
- Our kinship with the animal world
- What we leave on the land when we are gone
From the Gulf Coast of Texas to the Pacific Coast of California, and from the southern borderlands to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, these intimate portraits of women's lives on the land powerfully demonstrate that nature writing is no longer the exclusive domain of men, that women bring unique and transformative perspectives to this genre.
Daniel A. Olivas
From western Oklahoma and Texas through the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, the wilderness of the Southwest is explored in brief contributions by more than 90 women authors. The Story Circle Network, a national organization that encourages women to write about their lives, solicited personal experiences related to this difficult land. The selected responses are here augmented by previously published work by such writers as Barbara Kingsolver and Leslie Marmon Silko. Through poetry, memoir, and prose, each of the contributors tells of her relation to the land, to the animals that live there, and to her own ancestors. The simple and the unspoiled are celebrated, mostly via family experiences of the early 20th century, and the loss of much primitive landscape and hardscrabble life is a predominant theme (e.g., the revelation that a grandmother famed for her dumplings had been using canned biscuits for some time was an atypical but enjoyable moment). A great introductory volume to a land, people, and ecology too often ignored and flown over in our bicoastal literary world, as well as a showcase for a variety of writing techniques embodying a land and a way of life; for general and specialized collections.
Meet the Author
SUSAN WITTIG ALBERT is the founder and past president of the Story Circle Network. She lives near Austin, Texas.
SUSAN HANSON teaches in the English Department at Texas State University–San Marcos.
JAN EPTON SEALE is a poet and fiction writer in McAllen, Texas.
PAULA STALLINGS YOST, founder of LifeSketches/Heirloom Memoirs, is a personal historian and publisher in Yantis, Texas, near Dallas.
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth:
- Danville, Illinois
- Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley
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