At a Glance
Barry Lopez was born in 1945 in Port Chester, New York. He grew up in Southern California and New York City and attended college in the Midwest before moving to Oregon, where he has lived since 1968. He is an essayist, author, and short-story writer, and has traveled extensively in remote and populated parts of the world.
He is the author of Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award, Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals, and eight works of fiction, including Light Action in the Caribbean, Field Notes, and Resistance. His essays are collected in two books, Crossing Open Ground and About This Life. He contributes regularly to Granta, The Georgia Review, Orion, Outside, The Paris Review, Manoa and other publications in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, including Best American Essays, Best Spiritual Writing, and the “best” collections from National Geographic, Outside, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, and other periodicals.
His most recent book is Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a reader's dictionary of regional landscape terms, which he edited with Debra Gwartney.
In his nonfiction, Mr. Lopez writes often about the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture. In his fiction, he frequently addresses issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity. His first stories were published in 1966. He has been a full-time writer since leaving graduate school in 1970 but occasionally accepts invitations to teach and lecture. He has been the Welch Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Glenn Distinguished Professor at Washington & Lee, has taught fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and travels regularly to Texas Tech University where he is the university's Visiting Distinguished Scholar.
Mr. Lopez, who was active as a landscape photographer prior to 1981, maintains close ties with a diverse community of artists. He has collaborated with the composer John Luther Adams on several theater and concert productions, has spoken at exhibitions of the work of sculptor Michael Singer and photographer Robert Adams, and has written about painter Alan Magee, artists Lillian Pitt and Rick Bartow, and potter Richard Rowland. He has collaborated with playwright Jim Leonard, Jr., on a production of his illustrated fable Crow and Weasel, which opened at The Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis, and worked on a production of Coyote at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., a play based on his book Giving Birth to Thunder. The fine press limited editions he's collaborated on recently, including Apologia and The Letters of Heaven, both with artist Robin Eschner, and The Mappist and Anotaciones, with book artist Charles Hobson, are in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum, The National Gallery, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The New York Public Library, Stanford, Yale, and other universities and institutions.
Mr. Lopez is a recipient of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Hay Medal, Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundation fellowships, Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction, and other honors. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club.
In 2001, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, acquired Barry Lopez's manuscripts, notebooks, field journals, professional correspondence, and other archival materials and with them founded the James E. Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World. At the same time, to inaugurate the collection, the University also acquired the papers of William Kittredge, David Quammen, Pattiann Rogers, and Annick Smith. Since then, the Sowell Collection has purchased the papers and correspondence of Bill McKibben, Gretel Ehrlich, Edward Hoagland, Gary Nabhan, Rick Bass, David James Duncan, and others.
In 2003 Lopez was appointed the University's first Visiting Distinguished Scholar, a position that formally recognized a variety of projects he had been working on since the university acquired his papers. In 2001, he and E.O. Wilson, the Harvard biologist, designed a new undergraduate major for TTU's Honors College. It combined study in the sciences and humanities into a single degree program, the B.A. in Natural History & the Humanities. In 2004, with then associate dean of libraries William E. Tydeman, he established the endowed Formby Lectures in Social Justice. Since 2001 he has brought exhibits to the University's art gallery, taught workshops, and met with students in a wide range of disciplines.
Lopez is currently working to incorporate Comanche culture and thought into the fabric of university life. The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, under Dr. Tydeman, has created a 26-panel traveling exhibit, "Barry Lopez: The Working Writer," based on the university's holdings of Lopez's archival materials. It has traveled to numerous rural high schools in West Texas.
Lopez visits the Lubbock campus twice annually.
Updated 7 February 2012
Contents © 1966 to current, by
Barry Holstun Lopez. All Rights Reserved.
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Barry Lopez does not maintain a personal Facebook page, but regularly reads comments and questions that appear on his Facebook author page, which is managed by Knopf and by BL’s assistant. BL very much appreciates the thought and kindness evident in the words he finds there and regrets having to say that he is not able to respond to people individually.
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"I would ask you to remember only this one thing," said Badger. "The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other's memory. This is how people care for themselves. One day you will be good story-tellers. Never forget these obligations."
Crow and Weasel
North Point Press