Welcome to Love of Place. Most of my work celebrates our connection to the natural world.

Most recently, my Knocking on Heaven's Door is the winner in the category of science fiction in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and in the category of fiction in the 2016 Arizona Authors Association Awards. A number of reviewers have been enthusiastic, including the website Geeks of Doom, which makes me smile. Not many people know me as a geek of doom! But I am happy to embrace the complexity of my personality.

I'm also so pleased that Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, as well as the 2014 WILLA Award for Creative Nonfiction from Women Writing the West.

My historical fantasy Teresa of the New World won the 2015 Arizona Authors Association Award for best Children's Literature and was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Children's Literature, the WILLA Award for Children's Literature, and the May Sarton Award for Children's Literature.

These are nice landmarks in a writer's life. I would be writing regardless--but, still, whew. It's good to have some encouragement.

Feel free to contact me at http://www.sharmanaptrussell.com or through my author Facebook page, Sharman Apt Russell.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Three poems by Jim Natal, from Memory and Rain (Red Hen Press, 2009)


Out east on the desert freeway,
after the rain blowing in from the coast
had been blocked by the mountains doing their work,
the sky was fearless and the sun, half arisen now,
cast shadows of slow-whirling wind turbine blades
across all eight lanes, passing over each car
like the shadow of a hunting hawk.
A man in front of a prefab church
changed letters on the sidewalk marquee.
“God is waiting…” it began but I went by too fast
to see if He was waiting for me.

—For Jim and Theresa Farrell

I had almost forgotten the wildflowers, how they shelter
in high mountain meadows: crimson Indian Paintbrush,
bushy pink Monkeyflower, purple Lupine haloed
by white airbursts of Queen Anne’s Lace.

Had almost forgotten that every stream has a different voice—
snowmelt, riffle, rocky course, waterfall—
and how river forks slither through marshlands,
and the semi-precious palette of glacial lakes: creamy jade;
rusty garnet; turquoise lit from within.

Had almost forgotten the dry drum thump of boots
treading needle mulch beneath the trunks,
and how a Blue Noble handshake becomes a caress,
pine pollen like cloudbanks you pass through on your way.

Had almost forgotten how life always finds a grip,
how ferns can jimmy themselves into pumice rifts
and Lodgepoles trace their ancestry to a seed-hold in
a crevice, a thrusting out and then upward, and how
growing things at altitude have stature despite clinging
so low to the ground—dwarf architecture
of moss, yellow broomlets of lichen, huddled heather.

I remember now how the weather upslope twists
branches not out of shape but into shape,
and how the word “thistle” lisps like a breeze in the pines,
and that sweeping aside a stone on the trail
can veer the course of the world.


Thursday morning

This is a dialogue town,
hard-boiled repartee in a soft-boiled climate.
The mountains wisecrack to the desert,
while the Santa Anas, the red winds,
wring their raspy hands, snivel and sweat
like Peter Lorre waiting for a call on a
black phone from the fat, accented ocean,
the brains behind the operation.
Here, nobody goes out when it rains.
Authors read to the backs of empty chairs.
The movies talk to themselves.
Does the whole city steal
that rare chance to stay home, to listen
to weather spackling the windows,
“So What” softly in the background,
drink and shrink the stack of magazines
beetled beside the bed? Are they all
afraid of hydroplaning on the 405,
upturned SUVs and jack-knifed trailers,
highway patrol cops in yellow slickers
erecting shrines of flares?
Or do people think they’ll melt
like the wicked witch of the coastal west,
leave nothing but a grounded broom
and a puddle on an empty soundstage as if
it’s 1939 in Culver City? Oh, man,
it’s raining munchkins and there are evil
clouds of flying monkeys rumbling in.

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