Friday, October 14, 2011

Welcome Bill Sherwonit

WILD READ moderator and author - October 16-November 13, 2011 - Discussion topic: Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1950, Bill Sherwonit grew up along the edges of rural New England, where he got his first taste of wild nature in the woods behind his family’s yard and along the edges of the neighborhood swamp. After becoming a “rock hound” in his teens, Bill went on to get a BS and MS in geology (from Bates College and the University of Arizona, respectively) and traveled to Alaska in 1974 to work as an exploration geologist. Between 1974 and 1979 he spent parts of four summers traveling through the Brooks Range and other remote parts of the state; and along the way, he fell in love with Alaska. During the late 1970s Sherwonit discovered a new passion: writing. He changed careers from geology to journalism in 1978 while living in California and in 1980 began work at the Simi Valley Enterprise newspaper. In February 1982 he became a sports writer for The Anchorage Times, which brought Bill back to Alaska. He worked at The Times for 10 years, the last seven as the newspaper’s outdoors writer/editor.

Sherwonit has been a freelance nature writer since 1992. In recent years he has increasingly focused on literary journalism and creative non-fiction writing, especially the personal essay/narrative form. For more than three decades, Bill has written extensively about wild lands and wildlife. Though he continues to journey into the wilderness each year, he has also paid increasing attention to the wild nature of his home landscape: Anchorage. His primary interests are wilderness, the natural history of animals and plants, wildlife management, connection to place, conservation issues, and notions of wildness. He’s contributed stories and photos to a wide variety of national publications, including Orion, National Wildlife, National Parks, Sierra, Backpacker, Alaska, Outside, and Wilderness and his essays have appeared in several anthologies, including Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007, The Best Travel Writing 2005: True Stories from Around the World, American Nature Writing 2001, Arctic Refuge: A Circle of Testimony, and The Last New Land: Stories of Alaska Past and Present. He is the author of 13 books about Alaska, including three books about Denali, two about the Iditarod, and others about the Brooks Range and the necessity of wilderness, his evolving relationship with wild nature, Alaska’s bears and state parks. His most recent books are Living with Wildness: An Alaskan Odyssey, Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness, and Chugach State Park: Alaska's Accessible Wilderness, the latter a collaboration with photographer Carl Battreall.

Besides his writing, since 1993 Sherwonit has taught creative nonfiction writing classes , first at the University of Alaska Anchorage (through both the Alaska Outdoor and Experiential Education Department and Creative Writing and Literary Arts Department) and now on his own. His primary emphasis is nature and travel writing. Bill has visited several primary and secondary schools within the Anchorage area, to discuss the writing process, keeping a journal, and nature writing. Other public appearances around Alaska have included Earth Day readings; weekend workshops; panel discussions; and natural history presentations. In 2004 and 2009 he was a presenter at the nationally acclaimed Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference and in 2008 he participated in the Alaska Book Festival. Bill has also organized an evening of readings by several Alaskans to celebrate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and he shared an essay at a special program following Sept. 11, 2001. And in fall 2005, he was one of the chairs of the "Conservation Writing" program associated with the 8th World Wilderness Congress, which met in Anchorage. Outside Alaska he has done readings and book signings at Third Place Books and Elliot Bay Bookstore in the Seattle area and he's joined the circle of Pacific Northwest and Alaska nature writers who since 2006 have met every other year at the Blue River Writers' Gathering In Oregon.

After more than a dozen years on Anchorage's forested Hillside, Bill now lives and works in the city's Turnagain area, where he is learning more about the wild side of Alaska’s largest city, the source of many of his stories.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This a wonderful book - the Brooks Range is a powerful place, "Changing Paths" makes it accessible.

Bill Sherwonit said...

Many thanks, Anonymous!