“Women do not belong in the Canyon of the Colorado,” declared a famous river-runner in 1938. But 24-year-old botanist Lois Jotter would change his mind. Read this longform narrative in The Atavist Magazine of the adventures of two female scientists who rafted the Colorado River in 1938, determined to make the first botanical survey of the Grand Canyon. (Photo credit University of Michigan Herbarium, Clover & Jotter collection – used with permission).
Mythical River was named a “Nature Book of Uncommon Merit” by the John Burroughs Association, which honors the best published nature writing. This year’s John Burroughs Medal went to Brian Doyle’s novel Martin Marten. Other medal finalists, in addition to Mythical River, were John Lane’s Coyote Settles the South, Nick Neely’s Coast Range, and J. Drew Lanham’s The Home Place. Learn more about the award.
The Arizona Commission on the Arts awarded Melissa Sevigny a 2017 Artists Research and Development Grant, in addition to the Bill Desmond Writing Award, for a nonfiction book project. It explores what it means to make a home in a world defined and reshaped by catastrophic events. She will rely on interviews with scientists and local experts, as well as her own observations, to explore the science of planetary catastrophe and how it relates to our most intimate choices about home and family.
The Pima County Public Library named Mythical River as a top pick for the 2016 Southwest Books of the Year. Reviewer Vicki Ann Duraine wrote:
Imagine a world in which a river’s conservation was as important as the community it supports. With the insight of a hydrologist and the heart of a poet, Sevigny champions this ideal in her lyrical and exhaustively-researched science journal cum memoir, interweaving the centuries-old paradigm of unlimited natural resources with the facts as she knows them: the Southwest is running out of water and rain does not follow the plow. … It is a call to arms: Mythical River may be the most important book you read all year.
Reviewer Bill Broyles said:
She’s balanced, funny, and perceptive… [and] brings a youthful exuberance to her alluring narrative.
Science Friday features my story on Biosphere 2’s rainforest research
KJZZ interviews me about “The Wild Ones”
“Studying Drought In An Enclosed Rainforest,” aired on WBUR’s Here & Now.
“Glass Gem Corn: Poster Child For The Return To Heirloom Seeds,” aired on NPR’s All Things Considered.
“The Wild Ones” in The Atavist Magazine tells the story of the first two botanists and first white women to successfully raft the Grand Canyon–for science.
Read my interview with Terry Tempest Williams in Terrain.org, about wilderness, writing, and the act of bearing witness.
No upcoming events.
[Photo credit Northern Arizona Book Festival, 2019]
Thank you to the hosts of past readings & events: The Bluff Creek Arts Festival, Sky Island Alliance, Tucson Festival of Books, AWP 2016, Tohono Chul Park, UA Special Collections, Barefoot Cowgirl Books/Bright Side Books, Northern Arizona Book Festival, The Learning Curve, Narrow Chimney Reading Series, Western National Parks Association, KAWC, Iowa State University/Ames Public Library, American Planning Association, Southwest Festival of the Written Word, One Book Yuma (hosted by Arizona Western College and Yuma Public Library), the Gila River Festival, St. Michael’s College (Vermont), the Flandrau Planetarium, and the Arizona Author Series (hosted by the State of Arizona Research Library).
Science communication lectures and workshops: University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and the Biennial Conference on the Colorado Plateau.
My article A River’s Return, published in Edible Baja Arizona, wins first place for environmental/science writing from the Arizona Press Club! The article describes how the Colorado River’s experimental pulse flow restored water, and hope, to the Delta. (Photo courtesy of Seth Cothrun, with aerial support from LightHawk).