The Outdoors, Nature, the Environment–Writing their stories
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The Southwest Festival of the Written Word is held in Silver City NM which sits at the edge of the Gila National Forest, the Gila Wilderness, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, and is a Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community. Obviously, Silver has a lot of nature surrounding it.  What better place, then,  to listen and talk with authors who are experts when it comes to writing about the outdoors, nature, and the environment.
Three of our presenters-M.John Fayhee, Susan Tweit, and Susan Zakin -discuss the ways and means of outdoor, nature, and environmental writing, in two separate sessions at the Festival. Come listen to their stories, ask questions, and hear their answers.
Outdoor Writing
Evolution, Ethics, Exposure and Extreme
M. John Fayhee
Friday Oct. 2, 2pm, Church of Harmony

m john fayhee
In the past 30 years, outdoor writing has undergone an
unprecedented multi-tiered metamorphosis. While this
metamorphosis has opened up much in the way of opportunity,
it has brought with it additional challenges and
an astounding level of competition. M. John Fayhee will
talk about publishing basics, article structure, the ethics
of outdoor writing and how to live off ramen.
M. John Fayhee is the author of 12 books and has twice been a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards.

He edited the Mountain Gazette for 13 years, was a contributing editor atBackpacker Magazine for 10 years. He worked in the newspaper business for 15 years.

His work has appeared in “beaucoup” national publications, including High Country News, Aspen Sojourner Magazine, Islands, Adventure Travel, The Walking Magazine, Family Camping, Summit, Canoe & Kayak, Outside, Sierra, Sports Illustrated, USA Today & Men¹s Fitness.

His books include The Colorado Mountain Companion: A potpourri of useful miscellany from the highest parts of the highest state (West Winds Press, The Pruett Series: 2012), Smoke Signals: Wayward Journeys through the Old Heart of the New West (Raven’s Eye Press: 2012), Bottoms Up: M. John Fayhee’s Greatest Hits from the Mountain Gazette (Round Mountain Publishing: 2010) and Along the Colorado Trail (Westcliffe: 1992),-the first of three long-backpacking-trip, trail-related coffee-table/nature books he did with photographer John Fielder.

Nature & Environmental Writing
Susan Zakin and Susan Tweit
Saturday Oct. 3, 10am, Seedboat Gallery
susan zakin
Susan Zakin’s books have been described as “brilliant
and irreverent, tough and funny.” Her work ranges from a
portrait of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to a chronicle
of the Earth First Movement. Susan Tweit has won
national and regional awards including ForeWord Book
of the Year and the Colorado Book Award. Her twelve
books, including the memoir, Walking Nature Home, explore
how humans fit into the natural world. The panelists
will talk about their work and answer questions.
Susan Zakin was born in New York City, and moved to the American West in the 1980s.   After publication of her first book,Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement (Viking), she was called “the female environmental Hunter Thompson.” She was awarded a fellowship to train environmental journalists in Madagascar, where she became interested in gem smugglers and mercenary soldiers. Her research eventually led to the novel, The Afterlife of Victor Kamara.

As a journalist, Zakin has written about the environment, art, and politics for national magazines. Her columns have been syndicated to newspapers across the country. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and an MFA in fiction from The University of Arizona, and has taught creative writing and journalism at universities in the U.S. and Africa. Her books include the anthology Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth and In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster.

susan tweit
Susan Tweit began her career as a field ecologist studying sagebrush, grizzly bears, and wildfires, before falling in love with the stories revealed in the data. Her twelve books, including the memoir, Walking Nature Home, explore the nature of life itself and where we humans fit in the grand dance of species that makes this numinous blue planet a nurturing home.

Her work has won national and regional awards including ForeWord Book of the Year, the Colorado Book Award and the Colorado Author’s League Award (twice). Reviewers have called her writing “graceful and moving,” “magic!,” and “rich in the wisdom of one come face-to-face with the fragility, beauty and poetics of everyday life…”

She is a columnist for Zone 4 Magazine and a regular contributor to Audubonand High Country News.


Please visit for full Festival information and schedule and to read the bios of all the Festival presenters.