May 18 - 21, 2017
Public Reading — Saturday, May 20
Rogow Room, Transylvania County Library
When the student is ready,” the saying goes, “the teacher will appear.” Our job as writers is to recognize the teachers around us–be they people, animals or places–and empty out our souls to them to listen for their truths. But what happens when you find your teachers are trying to eat you. In writing nonfiction set in jungles, cloud forests, swamps and deserts, the author is seldom in control. When ants are streaming into your tent, when an orangutan makes off with your clothing, when you can’t find the pink dolphins or see the swimming tigers or spot the snow leopard, what’s a writer to do?
To research books, films and articles, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana.
She has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and dolphins in the Amazon. She has searched the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi for snow leopards, hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea to radiocollar tree kangaroos, and learned to SCUBA dive in order to commune with octopuses.
Sy’s 20 books for both adults and children have garnered many honors. The Soul of an Octopus, her latest book, is a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
The Good Good Pig, her memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. She received a Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement from the New England Booksellers Association in 2014 and an American Association for the Advance of Science/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science (for her book TEMPLE GRANDIN) in 2015. Sy is also the winner of the 2009 New England Independent Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award, the 2010 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (given by the ASPCA for Humane Education) and dozens of other honors.
Her work with the man-eating tigers, the subject of her book Spell Of The Tiger, was made into in a National Geographic television documentary she scripted and narrated. Also for National Geographic TV she developed and scripted Mother Bear Man, about her friend, Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned bear cubs, which won a Chris award.
Sy writes for adults and children, for print and broadcast, in America and overseas in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at what she considers a critical turning point in human history. “We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth—or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animate creation,” she says. “It’s an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures. It’s a great time to be alive.” She speaks frequently at schools and museums, libraries and universities.
She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French Language and Literature and in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and also from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.