Laura Bells work has been published in several collections, and from the Wyoming Arts Council she has received two literature fellowships as well as the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award and the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. She lives in Cody, Wyoming, and since 2000 has worked there for the Nature Conservancy.
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An Interview with Laura Bell about Claiming Ground
You grew up in the American South. What first drew you, when you were in your early twenties, to the high desert basin of northwest Wyoming? Was it the landscape or the people or the wildlife? Has that changed over your many years living in the West?
It was the land, all the space and the ability to live my childhood dream, a life horseback. In the thirty-plus years Ive lived in Wyoming, Ive come to love that its a state where cattle and people and wildlife can migrate hundreds of miles, irrespective of roads. Its a grand sweep of life and landscape. And my work now with the Nature Conservancy helps to protect that.
What was the most frightening or surprising thing you encountered as a young sheepherder in the Big Horn Basin?
That I had actually gotten what I said I wanted, which was to be alone. It was very frightening to realize that I had that power, that as a grown up, no one was going to come and take me back home. It was both thrilling and terrifying.
Over the course of learning to be a mother, you reference your own parents, their enduring marriage, your fathers theological ...
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