Barry Lopez

If I were to offer any advice to young writers, it would be this: be discriminating and be discerning about the work you set for yourself. That done, be the untutored traveler, the eager reader, the enthusiastic listener. Put what you learn together carefully, and then write thoughtfully, with respect both for the reader and your sources.

“If I were to offer any advice to young writers, it would be this: be discriminating and be discerning about the work you set for … Read More

You can’t learn anything from saguaro cactus, from ocotillo. They are just passing through; their roots, their much heralded dormancy in the dry season, these are only illusions of permanence. They know even less than you do.

“You can’t learn anything from saguaro cactus, from ocotillo. They are just passing through; their roots, their much heralded dormancy in the dry season, these … Read More

People think that if you’ve written a book and somebody’s given you a pat on the back then, you know, it’s all – you’re all settled, you know? You’re going to be fine. I know that if I’m not confused, and really afraid, my work isn’t going to be any good.

“People think that if you’ve written a book and somebody’s given you a pat on the back then, you know, it’s all – you’re all … Read More

We keep each other alive with our stories. We need to share them, as much as we need to share food. We also require for our health the presence of good companions. One of the most extraordinary things about the land is that it knows this—and it compels language from some of us so that as a community we may converse about this or that place, and speak of the need.

“We keep each other alive with our stories. We need to share them, as much as we need to share food. We also require for … Read More

What does it mean to grow rich? Is it to have red-blooded adventures and to make a ‘fortune,’ which is what brought the whalers and other entrepreneurs north? Or is it, rather, to have a good family life and to be imbued with a far-reaching and intimate knowledge of one’s homeland, which is what the Tununirmiut told the whalers at Pond’s Bay wealth was? Is it to retain a capacity for awe and astonishment in our lives, to continue to hunger after what is genuine and worthy? Is it to live at moral peace with the universe?

“What does it mean to grow rich? Is it to have red-blooded adventures and to make a ‘fortune,’ which is what brought the whalers and … Read More

Watching the animals come and go, and feeling the land swell up to meet them and then feeling it grow still at their departure, I came to think of the migrations as breath, as the land breathing. In spring a great inhalation of light and animals. The long-bated breath of summer. And an exhalation that propelled them all south in the fall.

“Watching the animals come and go, and feeling the land swell up to meet them and then feeling it grow still at their departure, I … Read More

Because you have seen something doesn’t mean you can explain it. Differing interpretations will always abound, even when good minds come to bear. The kernel of indisputable information is a dot in space; interpretations grow out of the desire to make this point a line, to give it direction. The directions in which it can be sent, the uses to which it can be put by a culturally, professionally, and geographically diverse society are almost without limit. The possibilities make good scientists chary.

“Because you have seen something doesn’t mean you can explain it. Differing interpretations will always abound, even when good minds come to bear. The kernel … Read More