Barry Lopez (1945-2020) was an essayist, nature writer, fiction writer, and environmentalist whose books included the nonfiction works Arctic Dreams, which won the National Book Award, Of Wolves and Men, Crossing Open Ground, and his final published work Horizon, and the fiction collections Winter Count, Desert Notes, Field Notes, and Outside.
Asked to consider the role of the writer, Lopez once said, “I like to use the word isumatug. It’s of eastern Arctic Eskimo dialect and refers to the storyteller, meaning ‘the person who creates the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself.’ I think that’s the writer’s job. It’s not to be brilliant, or to be the person who always knows, but… to be the one who recognizes the patterns that remind us of our obligations and our dreams.”
The recipient of a Lannan Literary Award in Nonfiction in 1990, the American Book Award, the John Burroughs Medal, a Lannan Residency Fellowship in 1999, and two Pushcart Prizes, Lopez lived in rural Oregon.