A Desert Conversation 2019

 The goal of A Desert Conversation is to increase the general public's awareness of the role deserts play in the natural world and in human endeavors. The program for “A Desert Conversation” features a moderator and noted authors as panelists offering their observations and perspectives on desert issues posed by the moderator, as well as of their choosing.

Guest panelists for the 2019 Conversation were Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford, noted Western historian and author  Patty Limerick  and desert writer Bruce Berger. The 2019 moderator was Ellen Waterston.


Bruce Berger

Nonfiction writer and poet Bruce Berger is best known for a series of books exploring the intersections of nature and culture, usually in desert settings. His newest title,  A Desert Harvest: New and Selected Essays, will be released in March 2019. In a review of Desert Harvest, the Denver Post said, "Berger takes his place with Annie Dillard and Barry Lopez." Kirkus Reviews stated, "There are few living writers more at home in desert country than Berger..." The first of his previous works, the essay collection The Telling Distance, won the 1990 Western States Book Award and the 1991 Colorado Book Award, and its contents have been widely anthologized. It was followed by There Was A River, whose title piece is a narrative of what may have been the last trip on the Colorado River through Glen Canyon before its inundation by Lake Powell, and by Almost an Island, which recounts three decades of exploration and friendship in Baja California. Bruce Berger grew up in suburban Chicago and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in English.

Patty Limerick

Patty Limerick is the Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a Professor of History. In 1985 she published Desert Passages, followed in 1987 by her best-known work, The Legacy of Conquest, an overview and reinterpretation of Western American history that has stirred up a great deal of both academic and public debate. In 2012 she published A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water, a history of water in Denver. Limerick has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between academics and the general public and to demonstrating the benefits of applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts. In January 2016 she became the Colorado State Historian. In addition, in January 2016 she was appointed to the National Endowment for the Humanities advisory board, the National Council on the Humanities. Limerick graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1980, and from 1980 to 1984 she was an Assistant Professor of History at Harvard.

Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford was appointed Oregon’s ninth Poet Laureate in May 2018 by Governor Kate Brown.  He is the founding director of The Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. Stafford was born and grew up in Oregon. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, and edited half a dozen others. His book, Having Everything Right: Essays of Place, won a citation for excellence from the Western States Book Awards in 1986. Stafford’s most recent book, 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do, is an account of his brother’s death by suicide, and the struggle of a family to understand, and to live beyond that event. His awards and honors include creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award from the Portland nonprofit Literary Arts and a Governor's Arts Award for his contributions to Oregon literature. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools, and also offered writing workshops in Italy, Scotland and Bhutan. He lives in Portland with his wife and children.