When Women Were Birds
Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Terry Tempest Williams
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates
Terry 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?"
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
When Women Were Birds Enthusiast
I have enjoyed all of William's books that I have read, this one touched me very deeply and I read it 8 times in a row. It is a creation mythology and a memoir of great beauty and strength. Empty journals turned into touching history and fighting for the earth in a most productive form - seed to tree and bird to branch equals song. Living life fully as a contact sport and an exercise in poetic expression. Giving up the rules in order to discover the wonder and possibility of each day even while setting the politics in motion and speaking out for all creation. I downloaded this book to my cellphone reader, just so when I am waiting I can calm myself and keep my mind in tune. It literally brings my blood pressure to norm and excites my passion for action and celebration. Woman to woman power from the tribe of one-breasted. What we have done, what we can undo, and a tribute to what can be created with the right words.
Voice in silence
As a new mother, this book really moved me. I found that finding and keeping my voice is constant struggle. I loved being able to see into her relationship with her mother from the empty journals. But more importantly, her ability to use the journals to find and keep her own voice over and over again. I hope to emulate Williams ability to find her voice in silence, blankness. And I hope to be able to teach my own daughter the importance and power of silence when developing one's voice.