Recent Work

"State of Mind: Threshold"
Editor Sigrid Rausing invited eight writers to contribute short pieces on the theme "State of Mind." In "State of Mind: Threshold," BL describes the fear he had to overcome before making his first dives under the sea ice in Antarctica. He was working on material for a book, accompanying a group of benthic ecologists who dove at several sites in McMurdo Sound. The piece appears in the Summer 2017 (#140) issue of Granta.


"The Education of Barry Lopez"
Laura Dassow Walls, whose new biography of Thoreau, Thoreau: A Life, has been getting excellent reviews, invited BL to speak at the University of Notre Dame, BL's alma mater. "The Education of Barry Lopez" is an edited version of his talk to a packed auditorium on March 9, 2017. His presentation was enthusiastically received by students, and Kerry Temple, the editor of Notre Dame Magazine, who was in attendance, asked BL for a transcript of the talk. In his remarks, BL compared his years at Notre Dame with theirs, spoke to what it really means to become educated, and urged them to take the gift of such an education and, instead of thinking about a career track and "fame and fortune," to think about how they might help in the great human effort to address environmental degradation, economic inequality, and nationalism. An adaptation of the talk with minor editing of the transcript appears in the Summer 2017 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.


"The San Joaquin"
The short story "The San Joaquin" appears in Freeman's: The Best New Writing on Home. A young, gay attorney whose parents grew up in South Africa, and who himself was born in Rotterdam, moves to the Bay Area as a boy. He finishes law school at U.C. Berkeley and shortly thereafter he and his partner leave promising careers in Silicon Valley to establish their own firm in the San Joaquin Valley. In the years after, they specialize in labor law and immigration law. After the narrator's parents pass away and he loses contact with other family members, his partner dies. The narrator is taken in by a client who understands what a valuable member of the community he has been, and he begins to rethink what it means to have a family.


"The Race Goes to the Swiftest"
The short story "The Race Goes to the Swiftest" was published in the Winter 2016/2017 issue of The Iowa Review The story is an allegory about fraud, disillusionment, the admonition to succeed, and the frantic pace of modern life.


"Introduction" to The Last Road North by Ben Huff
This collection of black-and-white images by Ben Huff is a meditation on the nature of the Dalton Highway in Alaska. This thoroughfare, also known as "the Haul Road," runs from Fairbanks, Alaska, to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay, on the shore of the Beaufort Sea. Lopez's introduction explores Mr. Huff's sensitive response to this iconic symbol of industrialization and natural resource extraction. He also recounts some of his own experiences on the Dalton Highway during the years he was researching Arctic Dreams.

"The Invitation"
The essay "The Invitation" appears in the Autumn 2015 issue of Granta, a British journal. In this essay, BL reflects on his travels with indigenous peoples, examining what it means to be present in a landscape, to gather meaning from it, and to come to know it.

The essay "Uncivilized" appears in the September 2014 issue of Outside magazine. To mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, BL describes a walk in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, near his home in rural western Oregon, and recalls the successful citizens' campaign to protect three creek drainages there from logging. (The online version of the essay was given the title "The Case for Going Uncivilized.")

Una Geografia Profonda
On July 4, 2014, Galaad Edizioni published Una Geografia Profonda (An Intimate Geography), a collection of BL's essays selected and translated by Davide Sapienza. The book has an introduction by Franco Michieli, and includes a conversation between BL and Davide Sapienza and an end note by Sapienza. The book has no counterpart in English. Sapienza, who has translated several books of BL's into Italian, wanted to introduce more of BL's uncollected work to an Italian audience.

"Landscapes of the Shamans"
The essay "Landscapes of the Shamans" appears in the July/August 2013 issue of Orion. BL speculates here that in recent years a new and fundamentally different view of wild animals has emerged in art. Accompanying the essay are illustrations of the work of installation artist Jane Alexander, photographers Lukas Felzmann, Frans Lanting, Wayne Levin, and Susan Middleton, painter Tom Uttech, and artists Sylvie Rosenthal and Rick Bartow.

Afterword in Outside
In early March 2013, Nawakum Press published a fine press limited edition collection of six of Barry Lopez's stories, two each from Desert Notes, River Notes and Field Notes. The book, called Outside, was designed and illustrated by Barry Moser and includes an Introduction by James Warren and an Afterword by BL, in addition to a four-panel visual meditation on the stories by Mr. Moser. In his Afterword, BL describes how Desert Notes, River Notes and Field Notes came to be published, and the role of Jim Andrews in that process. In March 2014, Trinity University Press published a trade edition of Outside, also designed by Barry Moser.

"Sliver of Sky: Confronting the Trauma of Sexual Abuse"
Barry Lopez has an essay in the January 2013 issue of Harper's entitled "Sliver of Sky: Confronting the Trauma of Sexual Abuse." It’s a first-person account of how he was sexually abused by a predatory pedophile for almost four years when he was a boy growing up in Southern California. The essay is available online at Harper's.

"The Museum of Game Balls"
This short story appeared in the January 2011 issue of Manoa. A self-assured World War II historian, Mr. Balewa, uses deception to secure an audience with a wealthy and reclusive Burmese businessman rumored to have betrayed his people during World War II. Mr. Balewa quickly finds himself in over his head with a worldly, powerful, manipulative, and psychopathic personality.

"Six Thousand Lessons"
This short essay appeared in Kyoto Journal 75, September 30, 2010. In it, BL explores diversity as a general principle. He recounts his many years of experience with different human cultures and in different geographic settings, and comes to the conclusion that to regard diversity as characteristic of robust ecosystems and human cultures is to miss its fundamental importance in both these spheres. Diversity, he argues, is not so much a characteristic of life as it is a condition necessary for life. Without diversity, human cultures founder and ecosystems collapse. The essay is available on the journal's website and as a fine press limited edition (see Bibliography)

"A Dark Light in the West: Racism and Reconciliation"
"A Dark Light in the West: Racism and Reconciliation" appeared in The Georgia Review's Fall 2010 issue. In the essay, BL traces his own experience with racism in southern California and New York City prior to his moving to Oregon in 1968 and his subsequent experience as a resident of Oregon. The piece elucidates a long history of racism in Oregon, from the murder of 31 Chinese miners at Deep Creek in 1887 to sundown laws that remained on the books in the 1960s and the failure of the state to ratify the 14th Amendment (1866) to the Constitution until 1973. This work was commissioned for The Manner of the Country: Living and Writing the American West, edited by Russell Rowland and Lynn Stegner, published in the fall of 2011 by the University of Texas Press.

"Dixon Marsh"
"Dixon Marsh," a short story, appears in Orion's July/August 2010 issue and also in the on-line journal, Places. "Dixon Marsh," set in Nevada's Sierra mountains, follows a sexually-abused epidemiologist's journey to a mountain lake and a turning point in her life.

"The Trail"
This very short short story appears in Orion's January/February 2010 issue. Originally written for, co-founded by Bill McKibben, this piece about restraint is precisely 350 words, 350 parts per million carbon dioxide in our atmosphere being the upper limit beyond which, scientists say, the damage the Earth is sustaining will accelerate. (The load of CO2 in the atmosphere first passed 400 ppm in May 2013.) Dave Eggers selected "The Trail" for Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010. Paul Moxon of Fameorshame press designed, printed, and assembled a limited edition broadside of "The Trail" while he and BL were at the Penland School for Crafts in November 2011.

"Madre de Dios"
Brian Doyle, the editor of Portland magazine, asked BL to create a written version of a story BL had told him some years before about rescuing sea lions that had been trapped illegally in a net in the Galápagos Islands. Doyle wanted the essay for an issue of Portland magazine he was devoting to material about the Blessed Mother and he had recalled that her presence played some role in that rescue. To recount the event effectively, BL introduces it with a history of his Roman Catholic upbringing. The essay closes with the description of another event, in BL’s childhood, in which the Blessed Mother is the paramount figure, a wrenching memory few people outside BL’s family and closest friends have ever heard. The article was selected for Best American Essays 2009 and it also received an award from the American Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Guest Editor, with Frank Stewart, Maps of Reconciliation and Gates of Reconciliation
In Maps of Reconciliation: Literature and the Ethical Imagination [Manoa 19:2] and Gates of Reconciliation: Literature and the Ethical Imagination [Manoa 20:1], fiction writers, poets, essayists, indigenous peoples, veterans of war, and our elders speak about the most compelling question of our time: how we are to imagine a future of mutual tolerance, respect, and justice, especially those whose cultures are being eroded by political and economic superpowers.

The international voices in these two volumes come from India, North Korea, rural China, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Italy, Palestine, Israel, Australia, the native Hawaiian community, the Native American community, and elsewhere.

A multitude of questions and hopes fills these pages from writers and artists who suggest various paths to reconciliation. Three portfolios of photographs by Franco Salmoiraghi depict exemplary struggles for reconciliation by Native Hawaiians in Maps of Reconciliation. The photographs of Linda Connor and Kate Joyce grace Gates of Reconciliation.

Introduction to The Future of Nature
Working with the editors of Orion magazine, BL selected essays and interviews to be included in The Future of Nature and then wrote the anthology's Introduction. Here are Ginger Strand on Niagara Falls, Derek Jensen on moving past "hope" as a goal, and Mark Dowie on how some international conservation efforts have created a class of human refugees. Essays by Wendell Berry, Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, David James Duncan, Sandra Steingraber, and 21 other writers, along with interviews of Oren Lyons (by BL) and Van Jones, round out the collection.

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney
Home Ground is a landmark work of language, geography, and folklore. The editors brought together forty-five poets and writers from across the country to create more than 850 original definitions for terms like cutbank, flatiron, yazoo, monadnock, hollow, kiss tank, gulch, birdfoot delta, detroit riprap, swale, trace, and paternoster lakes. Drawing on careful research, the writers used their own distinctive stylistic, personal, and regional approaches to portray the striking complexity of the landscapes we inhabit, from Missouri's woody draws to Virginia's runs, from the desire paths of cities to the rondes of Midwestern farmlands, from California's bajadas to Alaska's pingoes and Hawai'i's volcanic expanses of pahoehoe. The intent behind the work of this diverse group of writers was to revitalize our sense of intimacy with place. An advisory board reviewed each of the definitions for accuracy. With black-and-white line drawings by Molly O'Halloran, Introduction by Barry Lopez, index, and bibliographic note. Published in hard (2006) and soft (2013) covers by Trinity University Press.

"ˇNunca Más!"
Written in the form of a diary over seven days, the primary focus of this essay is BL's visit to Auschwitz in the days following the launch in Paris of the French edition of Resistance. The diary appeared in a weekend edition of the French national paper Libération as "Une phrase de Primo Levi." A fine press limited edition, in English, entitled ˇNunca Más!, was published in September 2007 by Red Dragonfly Press.

"The Leadership Imperative: An Interview with Oren Lyons by Barry Lopez"
This interview appears in the January/February 2007 issue of Orion magazine, in the Winter 2007 issue of Manoa, and in the September/October 2008 issue of the British periodical Resurgence. Lyons is a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan among the Onondaga people of western New York, and he sits on the Council of Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee, or the Six Nations as they are sometimes called. The recipient of many national and international awards, Oren Lyons has been a defining presence for more than three decades on international indigenous rights and sovereignty issues.

"Out West"
BL wrote the introductory essay to Emily Ballew Neff's The Modern West: American Landscapes 1890-1950, the 315-page illustrated catalog created for an exhibit of the same name. The show opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2006, and later went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In a 3-part essay, Lopez addresses the singularity of the western American landscape; the massacres of native people that took place at Washita, Bear River, Sand Creek and elsewhere, and which are part of the obscured history of the West; the literature of the American West; and symbolic and realistic elements in the paintings and photographs in the exhibit Ms. Neff curated.

In this work of fiction, nine men and women, all of whom went to college together in the `60s, tell separate but interrelated stories of the struggle to lead a meaningful life. Most have been world travelers and, in the moment these stories are told, are living in widely separated parts of the world--rural Hokkaido, Paris, Buenos Aires, the Brazilian jungle, Dar es Salaam, Mindanao, and Kashgar. Each one has received the same threatening letter from an ominous agency called Inland Security, in which they learn their artistic and scholarly activities have been classified as a threat to "democracy." They decide to go underground but leave behind for their pursuers these nine stories.

With nine monotypes by Alan Magee.


"Waiting for Salmon"
This essay was written in response to a request from Granta for a personal reflection on global warming and climate change. Lopez focuses his thoughts on the changing numbers of spring chinook salmon he's watched spawning in front of his McKenzie River home for the past 35 years. The essay indicts the media for their complicity in the general pattern of diminishment and denial that distinguished the Bush Administration's reaction to these international issues. In an attempt to simplify or dismiss scientific research that doesn't serve the overall goal of economic growth, the Administration and the media pursued economic and theocratic, rather than democratic, solutions to the problem. The piece closes with Lopez wondering how to explain these issues to his two-year-old grandson, whom he takes regularly to salmon spawning grounds near his home.

Vintage Lopez
One of twelve readers published by Vintage in 2004 as "introductions to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions." Other volumes in the series include work by Martin Amis, James Baldwin, Sandra Cisneros, Joan Didion, Richard Ford, Langston Hughes, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, V.S. Naipaul, and Oliver Sacks. The Lopez volume includes the essays "Landscape and Narrative," "Flight," and "Learning to See," the short stories "The Letters of Heaven," "The Mappist," and "The Entreaty of the Wiideema," and six other essays and stories.

Light Action in the Caribbean
The stories in this collection are set in the southern California of the author's childhood, in North Dakota, the geographical setting for a number of the author's earlier stories, in his home landscape in the Pacific Northwest, and in the Middle East.


About This Life
Audio edition
Lopez reads from all three sections of this book. The first section includes essays set outside North America, the second contains essays from his home continent, and the third comprises a selection of memoirs. The recording was one of three finalists for the 1998 Audi Award for Best Abridged Nonfiction recording.

Interviews of BL
In 2013, William Tydeman published Conversations with Barry Lopez: Walking the Path of Imagination with the University of Oklahoma Press. The volume includes three long interviews with BL conducted in 2002, 2004, and 2007, a 28-page introduction by Tydeman, and a 43-page bibliography of his work, 1966-2013. In 2015, James Perrin Warren published Other Country: Barry Lopez and the Community of Artists with the University of Arizona Press. Warren interviewed a number of artists who are close friends of, and collaborators with BL. He also conducted numerous interviews with BL. The book is heavily illustrated.

In April 2014, an interview with Barry Lopez was published in the 2014-2015 issue of Call of the Wild, the annual magazine of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. In it, BL discusses with Irene Rawlings his lifelong curiosity about wild animals and his interest in the way contemporary artists are probing these animals' lives.

"The Big Rhythm: A Conversation with Barry Lopez on the McKenzie River," conducted by Michael Shapiro, was published in Michigan Quarterly Review, Fall 2005 [44:4], pages 583-610 and later excerpted in The Sun, June 2006 [Issue 366], pages 4-12, as "Against the Current."

"On Resistance: An Interview with Barry Lopez," conducted by Christian Martin, was published in The Georgia Review, Spring 2006 [60:1], pages 13-30.

In 2008, Mike Newell published No Bottom: In Conversation with Barry Lopez, a book about BL's fiction. It includes a 41-page interview with BL.


Updated 5 February 2016
Contents © 1966 to current, by
Barry Holstun Lopez. All Rights Reserved.