Finding Voice For Authentic Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest WilliamsTerry takes us on a whirlwind tour of what it means to give voice to our own authenticity. It requires deep listening and fertile silences. She encourages us to speak “Mother Tongue.” That is speaking from the belly rather than the mind. She laments that in Western culture “the language of economics has power, the language of the law has power, the language of science has power. But an intelligence of the heart, an emotional intelligence, or a poetic sensibility, or even a sensibility that comes from the side, from a different angle, from a different point of view, asks us to form a different kind of shape of conversation.” In this delightfully warm and thoughtful program you’ll by dazzled by the mystery of her dying mother’s request for Terry to read her journals, but not until after her death. Terry found 3 shelves of journals only to discover all of them were blank. Puzzle along with Terry as she takes us from the Red Rock Wildlands of Utah to the Plains of Kenya in a far-reaching dialogue about finding one’s authentic voice. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, environmentalist, and award-winning author. She is a fierce advocate for freedom of speech and has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Lannan Literary Fellowship in creative nonfiction and the 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship. She served as naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History and has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. She is a columnist for The Progressive magazine. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.

Her books include:

To learn more about the work of Terry Tempest Williams go to

Topics explored in the dialogue include:

  • How did the mystery of her mother’s journals inspire Terry
  • How Terry became a better teacher in a surprising way
  • How do we speak a language that opens our hearts rather than closes them
  • What is the profound distinction between silence and being silenced
  • What is meant by “The Mother Tongue”
  • How can the question “who benefits” help us decide which voices gets our attention
  • Why the conversation on reproductive freedom is important
  • Who was Wangari Maathai and what was her contribution to the world

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Host: Justine Willis Toms    Interview Date: 5/5/2012   Program Number: 3437

Music Playlist:

Album: Journey Between

Artist: Baka Beyond
1998 Rycodisk – Hannibal #HNCD 1415

  • Opening Essay: Track 05, “Cotu”
  • Music Break 1: Track 04, “Konti”
  • Music Break 2: Track 06, “Land’s End”
  • Music Break 3: Track 08, “Queen of Ngorongoro”