Wyoming Arts Council

Terry Tempest Williams to teach at UW

Internationally-acclaimed nature and environmental writer, Terry Tempest Williams, will be University of Wyoming’s first “Eminent Writer-in-Residence” during the 2007-2008 academic year. She has accepted Wyoming’s first state-endowed professorship funded by the Excellence in Higher Education Endowment. The 2006 Wyoming State Legislature established the endowment that included $70 million to create senior faculty positions for “highly distinguished scholars and teachers.” While in residence in the UW Department of English, she will teach a creative writing Master of Fine Arts workshop and direct MFA theses. She will also host brown bag lunch “conversations” for members of the university and Laramie communities during the fall semester. In the spring, she will conduct “weather reports,” innovative outreach events in four Wyoming locations, designed to inspire conversations and writing about change in Wyoming communities.

Williams found herself in the literary limelight when she published her sixth book, the 1991 memoir “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.” In it, she described the epic rise of the Great Salt Lake that flooded her favorite bird refuge as her mother, who had lived down wind from a nuclear test site, was dying of ovarian cancer. Williams’ other works include Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert (2001); two essay collections, An Unspoken Hunger, and The Open Space of Democracy; Desert Quartet: An Erotic Landscape, Coyote’s Canyon, and Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland, along with two children’s books. Her essays and articles, appearing in major magazines, have been widely anthologized. An activist dedicated to preserving the environment, Williams has served on the Governing Council of the Wilderness Society, was a member of the western team for the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, the advisory board of the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Nature Conservancy, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. She is the editor of a collection of short stories, Testimony: Writers Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness. Among her many honors are the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2005 Wallace Stegner Award by the Center for the American West, and the Wilderness Society’s highest honor for a private citizen.

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