Kathleen Dean Moore's "Wild Comfort"

Kathleen Dean Moore is one of the finest writers in our country, a great teacher and generous spirit. We’ve gotten to know her over the past few years as she has been an instructor in our Thunder Arm Writing Retreat at the Learning Center, teaching writing skills alongside Rick Bass, Holly Hughes, Gary Ferguson, Ana Maria Spagna and Jim Bertolino. So, when we received a copy of her new book Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, published in early March by Shambhala, we were excited to plunge in to it and see what she has turned her attention to. Even better, we learned that she will be reading in Bellingham on April 2 and Seattle on April 3 (details and more dates at the end of the post).
In anticipation of her visit to the Fourth Corner, we struck up a conversation with Kathleen via email about her new publication.
NCI: What is Wild Comfort about? What were your motives in composing it?
KDM: Wild Comfort is about the healing power of the wet, wild world. Why does the sound of moving water calm us? What explains the gladness we feel in the return of tides, the return of spring, reliable morning after returning morning, bright in our eyes even if they are closed, or crying? How does the Earth transform dark into light, death into life, sorrow into a kind of peace that opens us to the wonder and solace of the world?
NCI: What did you learn in the writing of it? Did you end up somewhere different than where you started?
KDM: I had started out to write a book about happiness, examining times of gladness and by that means learning how to live.  But events overtook me, death after death, and my book became a different journey toward learning how to live.  Even though I was still writing about what I love the most — floating in fog, pitching camp in the desert, tracking buzzards and whales — I found myself on the trail of the hardest questions I know. How do we restore meaning to lives suddenly unmoored?  How can grief bring us into the deepest currents of life, and so connect us to sources of wonder and solace? How do we find the way to celebration and the courage to be glad again?
NCI: Do you have any specific hopes as far as how your essays in this book will be received by the reader? Anything particular you hope will linger in the readers mind?

KDM: I hope that my book helps people.  I hope it’s a book that people bring to their friends who grieve, the way they might bring a casserole. I hope the book passes from father to friend, from sister to mother, pauses for a week on a bedside table or a boulder by a stream, shows up on a doorstep with a pile of wildflowers, goes camping in the rain and desert, until — singed by campfire, brittle from the sun, underlined into a map — the pages all fall out. That’s a good life for a book.
Kathleen’s Wild Comfort reading schedule:

  1. Friday, April 2 at 7PM: Village Books, Bellingham, WA
  2. Saturday, April 3 at 2PM: Elliot Bay Bookstore, Seattle, WA
  3. Saturday, April 10 at 2PM: Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
  4. Friday, May 7 at 6:30PM: Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR
  5. Saturday, May 8 1-3PM: A Book for All Seasons, Leavenworth, WA
  6. Wednesday, May 19 at 7PM: Waucoma Books, Hood River, OR

Here’s what Jane Hirshfield has to say about Wild Comfort:
“Kathleen Dean Moore is a writer whose senses, heart, generosity, and intellect open in every direction. This book, filled with knowledge of the natural and human worlds, is a superb naturalist’s handbook. It is also a praise book: an illuminated manuscript whose life overspills its own borders. In its grounded wisdoms, humility, curiosity, and in the kaleidoscope beauty of its descriptions, Wild Comfort reminds how to see, how to sing; how to welcome, with equal gravity and grace, whatever asks entrance into our lives. It is destined to become a classic.”

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