Writing to Save the World
In the long, proud tradition of southern literature, writers have often drawn on the region's unique natural heritage for inspiration and insight—from the haunting cypress swamps of Georgia, to the tall mountains of western North Carolina, to the rolling fields of the Virginia piedmont. As the South grows and changes, southern writers are increasingly exploring the relationship between nature and man. SELC's Reed Environmental Writing Award honors these storytellers who capture in words our landscapes and traditions in transition.
About the Reed Environmental Writing Award
The Reed Environmental Writing Award is given annually for published works in two categories, Non-fiction Book and Journalism, and is judged by some of the top environmental writers, journalists and activists of our time. Learn More
2013 Reed Award Goes to Two Outstanding Books
This year’s awards—in an unprecedented decision by our judges’ panel—went to two books, Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Leutze and The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell. The authors received their awards and read for an audience at SELC’s annual Virginia Festival of the Book event.
David George Haskell, a biology professor at the University of the South, spent a year focusing on a small section of old growth forest floor in Tennessee’s Cumberland Forest in The Forest Unseen. The compilation of essays beautifully renders the minute happenings one can only see if concentrating carefully, possibly with a magnifying glass, as the author spends much of his year. Through the lenses of science, Eastern philosophy, and our evolving culture, Haskell poetically describes the nearly invisible events taking place every day to create a book that, though focused on a tiny patch of forest, tells a story much larger than that.
The Forest Unseen was shortlisted as one of three finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
In Stand Up That Mountain, Jay Leutze tells the true story of how he and a small group of mountain people in North Carolina fought to save Belview Mountain from the destruction of mountaintop removal mining. With rich storytelling, Leutze paints vivid pictures of the colorful, resourceful characters he joins forces with and the mountains they love. Part documentation of a legal battle to prevent a mining company from breaking the law and part picture of life in Appalachia, Stand Up That Mountain is a powerful tale of what a determined few really can do. Leutze is a trustee for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and a 2013 recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen.