Six Maine Coast Semester 63 students got “the golden ticket”–a chance to hear renowned writer and environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams speak at Gulf of Maine Books, a Brunswick bookstore popular with Mainers thirsty for great writing and great writers.
Semester English teacher Sarah Rebick, who uses Williams’s work in her course “Literature and the Land,” was angst-ridden when she learned that space was too limited to allow her whole class to attend the event. “I had to pull names,” she says with a gentle grimace. “But I am thankful that at least some of the students had the chance to be there… the students were moved to tears by her intimate and empowering words.”
To an audience packed into the little bookstore, Williams read from her latest book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing, which focuses on the natural forces that erode and shape the landscape and the other forces she perceives as eroding our nation and its fundamental values. She is a passionate, lyrical activist for America and the planet.
Semester student Sam Child (Santa Fe, New Mexico; Santa Fe Preparatory School) described Williams as “amazing.” Not only did he enjoy the reading; he was also bowled over by how willing both Williams was to interact with him and the other Chewonki students. Williams “sat with the students and talked privately before the reading, asking them what they wanted to hear and to write some paragraphs about erosion that I could send to her,” says Rebick. Williams and her husband, Brooke, also lingered after the reading to talk with the Chewonki contingent.
It might have helped that Rebick had met Terry Tempest Williams before, years ago, when Rebick was teaching at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. She did not expect Williams to remember their previous encounter, but the writer clearly recalled the details. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Rebick. “She’s an incredible person, as well as an incredible writer.”