Saturday, August 18, 2001

Robert Michael Pyle

Like many writers who come to the Nye Beach Writer's Series, Robert Michael Pyle has amassed an impressive array of credits and accomplishments. Fifteen books, ranging from butterflies to Bigfoot. Awards, including a John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Washington Govenor's Writing Awards, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award, and a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology.

Besides founding the Xerces Society for invertebrate conservation, he has worked as Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy and a butterfly conservation consultant in Papua, New Guinea. He has lectured on conservation and taught field courses and creative writing seminars and served on numerous faculties around the country and abroad.

I could go on. There's more. But if he sounds a little too cerebral, not to worry. Many writers start out with terrific brains, which often become fossilized under the tremendous dry weight of academia. To the delight of his readers, Bob Pyle combines an informed imagination, encyclopedic memory and sense of humor with the enthusiasm of an extemely articulate ten-year-old boy.

One reason for this may be, fortunately for both us and Bob, is that in 1982 his house burned down. "Out of this came three good things... I decided to...resign several roles of influence in conservation... to write full time." The second thing was a new romance that has maintained ever since, and the third, his book Wintergreen, of which Bob says, "defined my trajectory as a writer."

He had seen how colleagues in the professional conservation world sometimes became cut off from the natural world to become "office and airplane bound, prisoners of committees, meeting mired." His hands-on approach to life and his work are summed up best in Walking the High Ridge, Life as a Field Trip: "Since my conviction is that heaven is to be found in deep attention to the billowing brilliancy and ordinariness of the world as we find it, it seems to me that the way to know time and to honor the world is to use the days as well as can be."

barbara Lefcowitz

Barbara Lefcowitz has recieved writing fellowships and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and Maryland Arts Council, among others. Her fiction and essays have appeared in over 400 journals. A native of New York, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, a Masters in English from State University of NY in Buffalo and a Ph. D. in English from the University of Maryland.

Recently retired from her professorship of English at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, Lefcowitz is also a visual artist who creates collages and silk paintings, studies languages and has educated herself in astronomy and neurology. Teacher, world traveler and a prolific writer of poetry, fiction and experimental essays, her work is a reflection of her life, the arts, science, memory and the landscape of the mind. A self-described loner, she distances herself from the current self-defined literary schools and feels that university-based creative-writing programs in America are more problematic than helpful to aspiring writers.

Barbara Lefcowitz is the author of seven books of poetry and one novel. Her newest collection, The Politics of Snow, contains the poem "Pacific Shadows," which she wrote while visiting Newport in 1999. The collection contains poetic conjecture on subjects ranging from the Great Cosmic Yawn to Andalusia, from Josef Mengele to Joe DiMaggio, from Warsaw to Brooklyn. Resisting the current tide of literary obfuscation, her poetry is decidedly comprehendable and accessible.