Finding Voice For Authentic Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams

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Terry 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” - 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 be dazzled by the mystery of Terry’s dying mother’s request for her 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 member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her work is widely taught and anthologized around the world. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. She currently is the writer in residence at Harvard Divinity School and divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Castle Valley, Utah.

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books including:

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

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • 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 get our attention
  • Why the conversation on reproductive freedom is important
  • Who was Wangari Maathai and what was her contribution to the world

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