Barry Lopez, 12th Annual ODU Literary Festival


Barry Lopez

Document Type

Featured Participant

Festival Date



Newport News Room, Webb Center; Mills Godwin Auditorium

Author/Artist Bio

Widely praised for both his nature-writing and his fiction, Barry Lopez has been called a writer who "goes to the wilderness to clarify a great deal about civilization." Of Wolves and Men, 1978, which includes not only a great deal of scientific information, but also wolf lore, superstition, folklore and literature from a wide range of peoples won the Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing as well as the Christopher Medal for humanitarian writing, and was nominated for the American Book Award. River Notes: The Dance of Herons, 1979, a book of fictional narratives, "is about a small world of relationships among people, herons, salmon, cottonwoods--and all creatures drawn to this rushing, tumbling, powerful and endangered emblem of natural life, the river... . The book is a thing of beauty in itself, as tantalizingly real and yet as otherworldly as your own reflection on a river's surface." Winter Count, another work of fiction, has been praised for turning "the sentiments of a decade's worth of ecology lovers into a deeply felt and unnervingly powerful picture of reality." His best-known book is Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, 1987; which won the National Book Award in non-fiction. It has been called "a lyrical geography and natural history, an account of Eskimo life, and a history of northern explorations," and a "reflection about the meaning of mankind's encounter with the planet... . Its question is whether civilization can find a way of adapting itself to the natural world before its predilection for adapting the natural world to itself destroys self and world both." His other books include Desert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of the Raven, 1976, fictional narratives; Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping With his Daughter: Coyote Builds North America, 1978, a collection of Native American Trickster stories; Desert Reservation, 1980, a chapbook; and most recently, Crossing Open Ground, 1988, a collection of essays. Lopez lives in Finn Rock, Oregon; this fall he is teaching at Notre Dame.


Barry Lopez gave a talk at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4, in the Newport News Room of Webb Center, on the relationship between stories and settings, and read from his fiction and non-fiction at 8 o'clock that evening in the Mills Godwin Auditorium.


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