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Monday, June 3, 2013

Deanne Stillman on "The Power of Place: The Role of Landscape Narrative"

Deanne Stillman’s deep connection to the Mojave Desert and her unflinching commitment to giving voice to the voiceless, was evident in her recent presentation, “The Power of Place: The Role of Landscape Narrative.”

Stillman is the highly praised author of Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern History; Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West; Twentynine Palms: A True story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave; and Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango. Her presentation, punctuated by excerpts from her books, clearly demonstrated why Stillman is a member of the core faculty at the UC Riverside-Palm Desert Low Residency MFA Creative Writing Program.

For Stillman, an Ohio transplant, “Place drives the story” and “the personal is political.” She searches for elements of the sacred, and is drawn to the great paradox of the desert —its beauty and terror. “The desert tells you, ‘you can start over,’” she explained. “The vast open spaces fuel that idea.” Many see the Mojave as a land of redemption, but are swept into a Boom and Bust cycle.

Each of Stillman’s books has taken eight to ten years to write. She speaks for the land, the children, the wild horses, the Native Americans, and in a greater sense, for all who are voiceless. Each book is a journey, and well worth the wait.

For a taste of how Place drives Stillman’s stories, please visit:

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