Terri Windling is a writer, artist, editor and co-director of The Endicott Studio For Mythic Arts. She is also one of the four writers invited by Brian Froud to participate in a special project based on his artwork called Faerielands. Her contribution to this very creative project was The Wood Wife, which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1997.
The Wood Wife is a story of a poet who is bequeathed the home and works of a fellow poet she has long admired, but never met. After his mysterious death, and this strange bequest, she moves to his home in the desert near Tucson, Arizona, and begins to read his papers and learn more about his life, and death. She soon discovers that the desert is rich with magical beings and mysteries, and that, as Goethe said:
Must go to the land of poetry.”
I really liked this book and enjoyed how the story, filled with the mythology and folklore of the southwestern desert cultures, and infused with art and poetry, tied in with Froud’s Faerielands project:
“…that Faerie, inextricably bound as it is to nature and natural forces, is gravely threatened by the ecological crises that human beings have brought to our world.”
Terri Windling included lots of wonderful poetry in this book (poems written by Borges, Rilke, and Neruda!), and wrote beautiful descriptions of the artwork of both real and fictional painters. And her descriptions of the desert itself were lovely. She is an exceptional scholar and artist herself, so I was as fascinated by the author as by the story she told.
Once again, this Faerielands series is a wonderful exploration of art, nature, myth, and the need for all of us to become better caretakers of the environment in which we live. It all reminds me of a wise statement I read recently from a Crow elder:
You know, I think if people stay somewhere long enough – even white people – the spirits will begin to speak to them. It’s the power of the spirits coming from the land. The spirits and the old powers aren’t lost, they just need people to be around long enough and the spirits will begin to influence them.
— a Crow elder
I read this book for Carl V’s Once Upon a Time 2 reading challenge. He has also just read The Wood Wife and posted an excellent review, full of information about Terri Windling, and with lots of detail about the story, so I urge you to visit his blog and read his excellent post.