Literary Birthday – 6 January – Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez was born 6 January 1945 and died 25 December 2020.


  1. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
  2. It is the imagination that gives shape to the universe.
  3. Conversations are efforts toward good relations. They are an elementary form of reciprocity. They are the exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate.
  4. To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need; and someone among us will act—it does not matter whom—and we will survive.
  5. Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.
  6. The interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of the exterior landscape; the shape of the individual mind is affected by the land as it is by genes.
  7. We keep each other alive with our stories. We need to share them, as much as we need to share food.
  8. The writer works on the inside and the critic works on the outside. I don’t know what it looks like on the outside, sometimes. It’s not that I’m not interested-it’s not where I live. I live inside the story.
  9. When I sit at that typewriter, I have to be frightened of what I’m trying to do. I’m frightened by my own belief that I can actually get a story down on paper.
  10. If I were to offer any advice to young writers, it would be this: be discriminating and be discerning about the work you set for yourself. That done, be the untutored traveller, the eager reader, the enthusiastic listener. Put what you learn together carefully, and then write thoughtfully, with respect both for the reader and your sources.

Barry Lopez was an American author, essayist, and nature writer. His work is known for its humanitarian and environmental concerns. He won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Arctic Dreams (1986) and his Of Wolves and Men (1978) was a National Book Award finalist. He was a contributor to magazines including Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic, and The Paris Review.

Source for quotes

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 5th January 2022