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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice By Terry Tempest Williams,

  • Title: When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
  • Author: Terry Tempest Williams
  • ISBN: 9780374288976
  • Page: 488
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebratesTerry Tempest Williams s mother told her I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won t look at them until after I m gone Readers of Williams s iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother She was one of a large Mormon clanThe beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebratesTerry Tempest Williams s mother told her I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won t look at them until after I m gone Readers of Williams s iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them They were exactly where she said they would be three shelves of beautiful cloth bound books I opened the first journal It was empty I opened the second journal It was empty I opened the third It too was empty Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother s journals were blank What did Williams s mother mean by that In fifty four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother s journals When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question What does it mean to have a voice
    When Women Were Birds Fifty four Variations on Voice The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles illuminates and celebratesTerry Tempest Williams s mother told her I am leaving you all my journals but you must promise m

    One thought on “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice”

    1. Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.

    2. I have two years of class and seminar notes from a recent MFA in creative writing This book comes up approximately twenty times in those notes, but for the first forty pages I really couldn t figure out why It s a memoir, written in bits Fifty four bits For the first forty pages I wasn t really impressed, or interested By the last page I d dog eared over a dozen pages, copied down a full page of quotes in teeny tiny script into my journal, and gone online to buy a copy for myself I read from the [...]

    3. I have tried to get into this book really, I have But there is too much of a creative writing class writing prompt quality to it that prevents me from becoming engaged What would you write if you inherited a bunch of empty journals from your mother Fill up the first ten pages for the next class The make book style of writing is not my cup of tea I can t help but imagine the author sticking index cards into Scrivener, writing a bit into each of them while multitasking the rest of her life, then s [...]

    4. The Hook No spoilers here as every review I have read gives us this much of a summary The opening line in itself is enough of a hook I am fifty four years old, the age my mother was when she died Consider that it quickly goes on to explain the following Terry Tempest Williams mother leaves her a set of journals just before she dies with the instructions that they not be opened until after her death Terry keeps this promise and when her mother dies a week later she waits for the right time to rea [...]

    5. I read some of this book during the 24in48 marathon, but quickly decided I wanted to read it slowly and spread it out over about a week.I first encountered Terry Tempest Williams in her 1991 essay, The Clan of One Breasted Women, about all the women in her family struggling through cancer that is connected to testing in the desert I know she also writes a lot about the national parks and the desert But I kept hearing about this book, and finally ordered it with a giftcard from the holidays.The [...]

    6. To withhold words is power But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power So says Terry Tempest Williams, whose mother withheld words by bequeathing her three shelves of beautiful clothbound books, all of which turn out to be blank Are her mother s journals paper tombstones are they eloquent witnesses to who she was And did Mother give her a voice by withholding hers, in life and in death Ms Williams embarks on a journey to trace her own voice s evolution connecting to th [...]

    7. My four days with this book began with a reading by the author Hearing Terry Tempest Williams words and the story of her mother s journals in her voice was moving and memorable Her elegant, warm cadence echoed as I opened the book the morning after her talk to read and reread her insights on voice, women, relationships, loss and love.I have been estranged from my mother for twenty years to be nurtured in the vast love and faith of a mother like Williams is not beyond my comprehension, but it is [...]

    8. This book is so beautiful it almost makes me want to cry to talk about it This is absolutely required reading for any woman or really any person who has ever had to choose when to stay silent and when to speak.

    9. Before I even started reading the book I was struck by the physical beauty of it Picador paperback version The way it felt to hold it in my hands I wanted to know which bird feather pattern was on the cover Is it from an owl A falcon It s significance is one of the mysteries that still linger for me Much like the blank pages in the back of the book are a reminder of her mother s journals and all they said by not saying anything These are things you would miss on an e reader.Spoiler alert this qu [...]

    10. In recent years, Terry Tempest Williams has written about patriotism and democracy in America, Italian mosaics, the Sundance Film Festival, Rwandan genocide and Hieronymus Bosch s fifteenth century Flemish masterpiece, The Garden of Delights Not bad for a so called nature writer In her latest book When Women Were Birds Fifty Four Variations on Voice, the author returns to some of the themes found in Refuge An Unnatural History of Family and Place, her highly regarded 1991 environmental memoir th [...]

    11. A memoir written in 54 short musings ranging from less than a page to a few , the age of the author when she wrote this, as well as the age at which her mother died All 54 pieces are interlinked, sometimes tangentially, to finding one s voice, as a woman in this space we inhabit from our inner lives to the wide world as a whole A love of nature creativity shine through the work.

    12. I d long wanted to read something by Terry Tempest Williams, so snapped up a beautiful deckle edged paperback copy of her 2012 memoir in essays on my latest trip to Wonder Book in Frederick, Maryland Raised a Mormon in Utah, Williams navigates between the narrow limits of her religious upbringing and the almost pantheistic feminist spirituality she s developed as a writer with a deep love for nature, especially that of the American West and, yes, birds Though not a chronological life story, this [...]

    13. It s difficult for me to review this book because my response to it is so personal Every literary interpretation is influenced by the reader s subjectivity, but some books are just too perfectly matched to one s interior to even contemplate objectivity When I think about When Women Were Birds, I simply don t know how to step outside of my own mind to carve out some critical distance.To begin with, Terry Tempest Williams TTW was defying LDS patriarchal expectations and fighting for her own sense [...]

    14. This was my favorite book from 2012 My breath was taken away in the earliest pages which to me were nothing short of prayer and now much of the book has pages folded over for future reference and sentences, underlined, to put in my own quote collections.Through Terry Tempest Williams variations on voice from the gift of her mother s journals, I find my own variations on my own voice as I believe you will find for yours as well.It is a must read for any writer considering memoir and indeed may al [...]

    15. A mother gives her daughter her journals, requesting that they only be read after her death When posthumously opened, the curious daughter discovers multiple journals are all filled with blank pages Why Terry Tempest Williams uses 54 chapters to wonder I loved the concept and execution of this book than I loved William s voice and edgy opinions Partly, that is due to her dismissal and bias against a church she has left and to which I still belong to All I can say it is akin to having a cousin b [...]

    16. I read this for my book club and I am so glad I did It is absolutely beautiful A woman searching for her dead mother s voice and finding her own.

    17. in ten years, should i still be on the planet, i might begin to get a grip on this book but even now, i know when i ve been told something really really important, and to which attention must be paide author sets out in this book to write about what voice signifies for women, and particularly for women writers in prose sometimes poetic, sometimes elegaic, sometimes with the rolling cadences of a sermon a rhetorical form with which i have remarkably little experience, but which can be immensely p [...]

    18. Frankly, I don t know how to describe my feelings about this book I knew how I felt at the beginning I fell in love with the poetic and philosophical first steps, the empty pages reflecting the silence of the journals of the author s mother How daring, how true, I thought How whimsical What an adventure this is going to be And in a way, Williams does take me into some epopee From one chapter to the next, I don t know where I am going to go or where I am going to land While the language is always [...]

    19. I had never heard of Terry Tempest Williams until I stumbled upon an interview with her on NPR s To the Best of Our Knowledge She was reading the first few lines of her latest book, When Women Were Birds Fifty four Variations on Voice, and I was immediately drawn in to her voice and her story My mother was dying in the same way she was living, consciously I am leaving you all my journals but you must promise me that you will not look at them until after I am gone I gave her my word A week later [...]

    20. I heard this author Terry Tempest Williams on Radio Times and was mesmerized by her story As Terry was comforting her mother dying with cancer, her mother tells her she has been keeping journals all her life unbeknownst to Terry and she would like to leave the journals to her Her only request was for Terry to wait until she had passed away before she read them A month later Terry decided it was time to look through her mother s journals The journals were right where her mother told her they woul [...]

    21. I have been utterly captivated by this book My mother left me all her journals, and they were all blank I m not sure whether this is a memoir, or a meditation, or a environmental journal, or some kind of unconventional feminist manifesto A woman searches for her voice, silenced by familial expectations, patriarchal religion, and both cultural and personal insecurities It reads like an exquisite prose poem, but in other ways it s a wild ride between voice and silence, home and wilderness, human a [...]

    22. Astonishingly rapturous, rhapsodic, and ravishing Far too poetic to call prose, too full of dreams to call non fiction I m not sure what to call it other than a masterpiece I was breathless for the entire read and plan to read it again.

    23. This has been a stunning meditation on being a woman and the relationship between mothers and daughters Nikki Steelefrom The Best Books We Read In February bookriot 2016 03 01 riot r

    24. Graceful and wise meditation on womanhood, family, faith, grief, the natural world, and wonder Quite lyrical and powerful and builds nicely.

    25. Up against the voices of Terry Tempest Williams in WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS, FIFTY FOUR VARIATIONS ON VOICE my articulation wants to fly away to somewhere safe It wants to find a place where it can hide maybe like an owl inside a tree So my words in this review shouldn t be compared to hers She is a study in voice, in language, in storytelling Her book is inspirational in the way scripture can be.There is a nice story arc to WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS It is a hero s journey, although somehow I doubt Ter [...]

    26. After a while, this might make it on my best and favorites shelf, but I think I need a deep re read of it in order to glean all of its beauty.It s a non linear and beautifully written series of vignettes that range from flashbacks to life events, grieving her mother s death, her relationship with her husband and adopted son, and involvement in politics, to a profound love of nature, including birds Unusual and moving, I will be giving this to my mom for Mother s Day this year

    27. This is the most exquisite book I ve experienced this year I say experienced because it goes beyond just reading pages The book is smaller than a typical hardbound book, reminding me of a personal bible or missal The cover has embossed birds in flight, white on white, and the endpapers are drawn feathers, tier after tier of black tipped feathers Just lovely There is a tiny silhouette of a bird in the margin of each right facing page rifle through the pages for the most elegant flip book So that [...]

    28. For women, as is true for men in their own kind, there is an inborn and fueling inclination to recognize what the landscape female woman women love life living is, does, and can do in relation to individual sense and identity of self Second, third, and nth readings decode and re tangle the maps we write and find for ourselves, leaving myth and mystery as truthful and trusty as sight, motion, sound, and touch In When Women Were Birds, Tempest Williams marks her task of unravelling and knotting th [...]

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