Friday, December 09, 2005

Terry Tempest Williams

The book Refuge by TTW was my introduction into the poetry of place. The question of how a landscape/community can shape and hold a person has been with me ever since. Here is an excerpt from an interview with TTW.
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London: In An Unspoken Hunger you say, "Perhaps the most radical act we can commit is to stay home." What do you mean by that?

Williams: I really believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among... The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms -- plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings -- then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put ... if we don't know the names of things, if don't know pronghorn antelope, if we don't know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don't know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.

I remember a phone call from a friend of mine who lives along the MacKenzie River. She said, "This is the first year in twenty that the chinook salmon have not returned." This woman knows the names of things. This woman is committed to a place. And she sounded the alarm.
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