Beyond the Llano (Feb. 20)

Ready your phones and pens: President Trump released his proposed FY 2019 budget. It cuts support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other cultural agencies.

David Quammen writes about the suburban forest that shaped his life and career for Outside.

Twenty-one species, including the snowshoe hare and arctic fox, change their coat color with the season. Scientists are studying how these animals cope with climate change and where conservation work is most needed to save them.

Literary Hub has launched a bi-monthly series curated by Natalie Diaz featuring work by indigenous women.

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Beyond the Llano (Feb. 6)

The 2018 PEN America Literary Awards finalists have been announced. They include Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas and Robert Leonard Reid’s Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West.

Library of America interviews Wendell Berry in conjunction with the publication of Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories (The Civil War to World War II).

At Entropy, Lisa Eve Cheby argues “Funding Libraries is the Way to Beat ‘Fake News’”. Give to your local public library and/or support the Sowell Collection with a donation to our endowment fund.

Taylor Brorby describes his experiences in and love of North Dakota’s prairies, badlands, and buttes in an essay for AE. And check out the Badlands Conservation Alliance’s campaign to raise awareness about the impacts of oil and gas development.

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Beyond the Llano (Jan. 23)

A good place to find books for the 2018 Reading Naturally Challenge: Outside’s Women Writing About the Wild: 25 Essential Authors including Sowell author Gretel Ehrlich. Others appear throughout various Sowell writers’ collections too – Rachel Carson, Ann Zwinger, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Terry Tempest Williams, and Janisse Ray.

That Night When Gretel Ehrlich and a Jackass Moseyed into The Cowboy Bar from The Mountain Journal.

Kurt Caswell interviews John Lane about his newest poetry collection, Anthropocene Blues, at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The US Forest Service, National Park Service, and US Fish & Wildlife Service offer the Voices of the Wilderness artist residency program. Paired with wilderness specialists, residents engage in stewardship and education projects. Applications are due March 1, 2018.

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Beyond the Llano (Jan. 9)

New Year. New Resolutions. The Hotchpot Café has created a 2018 Reading Naturally Challenge. The Telegraph, Nature’s Path, and Small Footprint Family all offer suggestions for healthy, green resolutions.

Counterpoint Press will publish Sowell author Robert Michael Pyle’s first novel Magdalena Mountain in fall 2018! And keep an eye out for Sarah Viren’s MINE: Essays due out in March 2018 from University of New Mexico Press and Clinton Crockett Peters’s  Pandora’s Garden: Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology available in May 2018 from University of Georgia Press.

If you’re looking for something new to listen to, check out BBC 4’s Adventures of a Young Naturalist featuring British naturalist David Attenborough; the radio drama Saving the Blue which chronicles a PHD student’s quest to save the Large Blue butterfly; or science and humor podcast Infinite Monkey Cage.

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Beyond the Llano (Dec. 19)

The New York Times has put together a list of the top climate stories from the last year. Check out 2017: The Year in Climate.

Patagonia has filed suit against the Trump Administration for its executive order shrinking Bears Ears National Monument. The Guardian provides an overview of the EO and the controversies surrounding it here. Outside examines Patagonia’s unusual move, and provides a quick guide to the groups and actions fighting to protect public lands.

Wyoming Daily News talks to Doug Peacock about his road to environmental activism, the Yellowstone grizzly, and The Monkey Wrench Gang.

With the Thomas fire set to become the largest fire in California’s history, The LA Times examines the link between natural disasters and climate change.

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Beyond the Llano (Dec. 5)

IT’S BACK! Beyond the Llano, our bi-weekly roundup of goings-on in the world – literary, environmental, and otherwise – returns this week with links to help you (read: us) build a winter break reading list.

Sowell authors with books out this year include: Sandra Scofield (Swim: Stories of the Sixties), Pattiann Rogers (Quickening Fields), Bill McKibben (Radio Free Vermont), and John Lane (Anthropocene Blues: Poems). And, don’t miss Sowell Conference participant Christian Knoeller’s Reimaging Environmental History: Ecological Memory in the Wake of Landscape Change.  

At The Guardian Stephen Moss highlights 2017’s contributions to the new nature writing from across the pond. The Millions’ A Year in Reading: 2017 features recommendations and musings from writers, including Louise Erdrich, Emily St. John Mandel, and National Book Award Winner Jesmyn Ward. New entries are published everyday, so keeping checking back. NPR’s Book Concierge is out today. Highlights include Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard, Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David Owen, and The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor.



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Some Thoughts on the Sowell Collection from Adam Houle

I worked with Diane in the Sowell Collection while finishing my PhD in English. My time with the Collection found me processing Susan Brind Morrow’s fascinating, intricate, and often delightful papers. There, in a stack of typed draft work marked up in pencil, I’d find a grocery list. One list in particular, illuminated with small doodles of flowers, struck me then, as now, like a poem. There was bread and milk, of course, but there were rose hips and apple wine vinegar and the phrase “place settings” with a few well-traced questions marks, as if the issue were a pressing one, and she truly didn’t know how many she needed or if they were needed at all.Image0004

I organized, I collated, I puzzled over relationships. I took my time and I took it seriously. Here were hundreds of pages of early draft work for Wolves & Honey and The Names of Things; here, hard Sharpie lines through paragraph after paragraph. I was witness to a mind at work, a mind and a heart and a thousand threads of narrative and thought and feeling she had waded through to write her books, to get it a little bit right. It was an honor to pull the document boxes from storage and spread my findings at the desk. It taught me about hesitation and doubt. I considered her revisions, imagining the desk she worked at. Was she distracted by revisions at the party mentioned in a brief note from a National Geographic editor? I wanted to understand how these particular books came together. Who said what and where?  Where are the fortunate accidents and where are the struggles? I had the chance to peel back the cover’s cover, and what I found was a vast mind and a thoughtful heart. I found poems translated into English from Arabic with her own thoughts jotted in pen below the steady-handed writing. From my small, cluttered—but very clean–office in the Special Collections Library, I worked for the future and while Texas Tech paid my stipend, I was working too for Susan Brind Morrow, doing the necessary work to help contextualize hers. Someone, I knew, is going to need to read this stuff one day, and it was my job to put it right for them, those future researchers and poets, that scholar down the line just now coming into focus.Names of Things

I don’t believe I know Susan Brind Morrow better for my work with the Sowell Collection. Rather, I know a writer’s long shuffling walk toward a finished book. And as I ordered, structured, fretted over, despaired for, celebrated, castigated, quit and picked back up the work of my own book, I thought of the Sowell Collection. There’s that mid-20s me in awe of the product I read but equally in love with the process I found—the mess of it, the necessary hope of it.13. S.Brind Morrow


My time with the Sowell Collection has made me more patient as a writer and a teacher. It’s a messy business, this getting it right on the page. All draft work, I tell my students, matters. It’s leading somewhere, which might be nowhere, but who knows what the circling back might teach us about ourselves, our world, and—perhaps more humble and all the better for it—the graceful sounds of a sentence just so, one small song and the songs beyond that.

Adam Houle por



Adam Houle lives in Darlington, South Carolina and teaches English and Creative Writing at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. He is the author of STRAY (Lithic Press, 2017), and his poems have appeared in AGNI, Shenandoah, Blackbird, and elsewhere.



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