There was a time when I wanted to be a park ranger when I grew up. My family usually spent our summer vacations walking sun-dappled trails beneath pin oaks, slippery elm and loblolly pines, cooking over a kerosene-powered Coleman stove, and sleeping in a pop-up camper. For a writer, maybe the next best thing to being a ranger is the national parks' Artist in Residence programs.
I've been selected to be an Artist in Residence - we're called AIRs for short - at Mesa Verde National Park. For two weeks in September I get to live in the park, explore archeological sites and stare up at the stars at night. While I'm there I'll teach a writing workshop combined with a reading of my work, on Friday, September 16 at 7 p.m at the Chapin Mesa Museum. Everyone is invited and you don't have to have any prior writing experience.
America's public lands are an important part of our cultural heritage, and the human history of Ancestral Puebloans in what we now call the Four Corners region is long and deep. I'll spend my time getting to know both through my writing practice, with a particular eye to the impact of climate change.
As a lead-up event to my residency, I held the #ParkLit Hashtag Book Festival on August 20, which as far as I know is the first book festival ever to take place entirely on a hashtag. If you missed it you can catch the proceedings on the festival page or read my writeup on the popular travel blog WeSaidGoTravel.
My reading list for the residency keeps growing, including everyone from Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey to Terry Tempest Williams, Simon Ortiz and Craig Childs. So if you're looking for me, I'll be the one with the notebook, pen and battered paperback, somewhere in the vicinity of this cliff palace.
Looking for your next book to read? I can recommend all these great indie press books.