Montana Public Radio

Ana Maria Spagna's 'Restless Essays Of Coming And Going'

May 21, 2020

Ana Maria Spagna joined us via phone from a tiny closet in her remote cabin in Stehekin, WA.  Before her life as a successful writer & professor, Spagna worked trail crew for 15 years. In this interview, she discusses the friction between commitment and longing as well as her relationship with modern conventions like the internet and chainsaw. Spagna holds these contradictions with grace and humor, a quality that extends far beyond the words on the page.  "Uplake" was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.

Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming And Going
Credit Ana Maria Spagna

To hear the conversation with Ana Maria Spagna about her book, "Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going," click the link above or subscribe to our podcast.

About the Book: 

For many years, Ana Maria Spagna has stayed put, mostly, in a small mountain valley at the head of a glacier-carved lake. You’re so lucky to live there, people say. She is lucky. But she is also restless. In Uplake she takes road trips, flies to distant cities, fantasizes about other people’s lives, and then returns home again to muse on rootedness, yearning, commitment, ambition, wonder, and love. These engaging, reflective essays celebrate the richness of it all: winter floods and summer fires, the roar of a chainsaw and a fiddle in the wilderness, long hikes and open-water swims, an injured bear, a lost wedding ring, and a tree in the middle of a river. Uplake reminds us to love what we have while encouraging us to still imagine what we want.

Ana Maria Spagna
Credit Nancy Barnhart

About the Author:

Ana Maria Spagna lives with her wife, Laurie, in Stehekin, Washington, a remote community in the North Cascades accessible only by foot, boat, or float plane. She is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books including Reclaimers, stories of indigenous women reclaiming sacred land and water, 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and three essay collections, Potluck, Now Go Home, and most recently, Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going. Her first novel for young people, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, about a 14 year-old snowboarder and her activist father, appeared in 2017. Ana Maria’s work has been recognized by the Society for Environmental Journalists, the Nautilus Book Awards, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, and as a four-time finalist for the Washington State Book Award.  Her essays have recently appeared in Orion, Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, terrain.org and High Country News.