The Ellen Meloy Fund has awarded their grant of $2000 to Amy Irvine, author of Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land,Â to support her work on her upcoming book, Terra Firma.Â This is the fund’s fourth annual grant.
She competed for this grant last year, too, when the award went to Joe Wilkins.
Since then, Trespass has garnered a wide readership.Â Like Terry Tempest Williams, Irvine comes from Utah Mormon pioneer stock and engages in broad social criticism of her native culture, especially its land use practices.
Recently, Irvine also won the Orion Books Award for Trespass.Â The Norwood Press, newspaper for the town Irvine now lives in, reports that Irvine beat out her friend and mentor Terry Tempest Williams, who was a finalist for the Orion award.Â
The Norwood PressÂ doesn’t mentionÂ what book WilliamsÂ had in the running, but itÂ wasÂ probably Finding Beauty in a Broken World, which came out at the end of 2008.Â I haven’t read this book yet but it’s on my review list.
The Norwood Press further reports Irvine as saying of Trespass, â€œI was writing about â€˜us versus them,â€™ and it sounded really shrill and one-dimensional …Â How was I helping to perpetuate the polarities, the divisions, and what was I doing to change that? Weâ€™re all trying to make a better world, and the minute we draw a line in the sand, weâ€™re going to fail. I donâ€™t see things in black and white anymore.â€Â The Norwood Press article says that it was only after leaving southern Utah and moving to Norwood, Colorado that Irvine was â€œable to resolve some of the conflicts and complexities of her life and conclude the book. She said that it was after moving that the story â€˜took a 90-degree turn,â€™ and she was able to balance her heritage and her upbringing with her passion for the outdoors and wilderness preservation.â€
At a reading she gave last year, Terry Tempest Williams reported having gained similar insight into her stance in her own writing.
The Ellen Meloy Desert Fund siteÂ explains that with her new book, Terra Firma, Irvine will be “Guided by Jungian archetypes, the lives of resident animals and the findings of drill rigs and coal miners … to ‘plot the points of a subterranean diagram—charting the vital, relatively unknown layer of the vast map of Deseret’ and posing metaphors for our psyches.”Â
This year, I competed for the Ellen Meloy Desert Fund grant for the first time.Â With the help of mentors I prepared a grant application and tossed my crusher into the ring.Â I didnâ€™t expect to win or even become a finalist; I knew who the competition was.Â The experience has provided me valuable insight into how to approach the nature writing community and what I need to do to compete in this language environment.
The Meloy Fund siteÂ notes that in reportingÂ Irvine’s award The LA TimesÂ Â “suggested” that Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land â€œâ€¦might well be Desert Solitaireâ€™s literary heir.â€
Jungian archetypes and Cactus Ed’sÂ Desert Solitaire.
Well, we are where we are.
You can find my review of Trespass here.