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4/16/24 6:00 pm
Kathleen Blackburn: Loose of Earth

Join us for the launch event for Kathleen Blackburn's memoir, LOOSE OF EARTH, in conversation with Juli Berwald. Tickets include a copy of the book and a reserved seat.

Blackburn was the oldest of five children, a twelve-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, whose evangelical family eschewed public education for homeschooling, and wove improbable scientific theories into literal interpretations of the Bible. Then her father, a former air force pilot, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of thirty-eight. Stirred by her mother, the family committed to an extreme diet and sought deliverance from equally extreme sources: a traveling tent preacher, a Malaysian holy man, a local faith-healer who led services called “Miracles on 34th Street.”

What they didn’t know at the time was that their lives were entangled with a larger, less visible environmental catastrophe. Fire-fighting foams containing carcinogenic compounds had contaminated the drinking water of every military site where her father worked. Commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” the presence of PFAS in West Texas besieged a landscape already burdened with vanishing water, taking up residence in wells and in the bloodstreams of people who lived there. An arresting portrait of the pernicious creep of decline, and a powerful cry for environmental justice, LOOSE OF EARTH captures the desperate futility and unbending religious faith that devastated a family, leaving them waiting for a miracle that would never come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn teaches in the University of Chicago Creative Writing Program. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in Colorado Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and swamp pink, and was listed as notable in Best American Essays.

Juli Berwald is an ocean scientist and science writer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of Spineless, a science memoir, and Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs. Her magazine-length pieces have appeared in The New York Times and National Geographic, among other publications.

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