Tributes to Barry Lopez, who explored ‘the kinship of nature and human culture’

Writers and readers have been paying tribute to Barry Lopez, who died on Christmas Day, at 75, of prostate cancer. He was a writer, as Robert D McFadden put it neatly in an obituary for The New York Times, whose work explored “the kinship of nature and human culture”.

Among those leading tributes on Twitter yesterday evening was Robert Macfarlane, who said it was Lopez (“my north star”) who had made him a writer: “Barry gave us stories to help us stay alive. Stories of love, care, generosity & land, of the grace-notes of the canyon wren, of petroglyphs carrying wisdom across deep human time. And stories of warning & horror, too — of exploitation and wreckage…”

John Freeman, executive editor of Literary Hub and editor of the literary magazine Freeman’s (and former editor of Granta), said: “Barry Lopez was so endlessly generous, the world today feels at once empty & never fuller. Now that he’s pure spirit again we can see just how many he touched, woke up. He was gentle, curious, kind, funny in a fable-y round the fire way, distressed and hopeful.”

Kate Harris, whose debut, Lands of Lost Borders, Lopez had championed, said of him: “Godspeed, Barry Lopez, you beautiful, generous, visionary human being and writer.”

I’ve already recommended here a video of a conversation between Macfarlane and Lopez. John Freeman has linked from Twitter to one he had with Lopez, in May last year (see below).

Lopez’s Horizon was one of my books of the year in 2019; you can read my review here on Deskbound Traveller.

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