November 4, 2018 § 3 Comments
On this key midterm election day in the USA, I’m so thrilled to be heading back (after voting, of course) to one of my favorite corners of planet Earth, an area of vast and stunning wilderness encompassing the islands, waters, and mountain ranges of the southernmost reaches of the South American continent.
We’ll be stopping over for a few days in Buenos Aires, but the real adventure begins in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, as we board the Stella Australis, a small (150-200 passenger) Chilean-run cruise ship, and set off into the stark and storied landscapes and seascapes of Tierra del Fuego.
We’ll visit the legendary Cape Horn, making a landing if the weather allows, and then follow in the wake of Charles Darwin’s Beagle and use zodiacs to explore various fascinating features, including fjords, tidewater glaciers, a penguin colony, and pristine high latitude temperate rainforests of this spectacular convergence of land, sea and ice, we’ll be on the lookout for whales, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other fascinating bird species.
Next, we’ll stay in the amazing Tierra Patagonia hotel at the foot of the dramatic granite spires and horns of Torres del Paine National Park. Here we’ll have several full days of hiking and/or horseback riding amidst one of the world’s most striking landscapes, in a part of Chile with some of the lowest human population densities on the planet.
This rich and diverse ecosystem is of particular interest to us because it includes an apex predator, the elusive puma, and its primary prey, the charming and highly entertaining guanaco. What a magnificent opportunity!
This will be my fifth time on this particular National Geographic itinerary, and I’m thrilled to be heading back. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it’s a multi-disciplinary pursuit—and a trip like this provides great material.
I’m a big fan of history, geography, ecology, and biography as disciplines that enrich any travel experience, and it will be my privilege to share some of those wide-ranging interests with the National Geographic group.
Talks will focus on the history and geography of the region and the lives of explorers and adventurers who went on to make important contributions to humanity and the planet—and whose early lives were shaped by their journeys to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. My final talk will be more personal in nature, about my parallel careers as a novelist and travel guide, the links between travel, writing, and environmental awareness, and what I call the “geographic imagination.”
All in all, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. This is a really fantastic part of the world and I highly recommend you get there if you can. I could be convinced, by the way, to organize a custom trip or two if anyone’s interested . . .
October 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
What a pleasure it was to spend part of a recent afternoon having this wide-ranging conversation with Colorado novelist Mark Stevens on The Rocky Mountain Writer podcast.
We discussed many topics of interest to writers and readers, including A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, travel and fiction, Ecuadorian volcanoes, Venezuela’s Orinoco basin, Eastern Cuba, fiction vs autobiography, the importance of place in fiction, dropping acid and pushing the bounds of objective reality, interiority and loneliness, The Grateful Dead and the Eleusinian Mysteries, fly fishing as metaphor, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Golding’s The Inheritors, Newport MFA & the Cuba Writers Program, and a recap of a talk I gave on “The Essentials of Voice” at RMFW’s Colorado Gold conference in September, 2018.
Listen to the entire podcast here. Mark also did a wonderful followup print interview here, in which we talked about life experience as a point of departure for fiction, the deep sources of story ideas, more on why I think dreams and hallucinations shouldn’t be off-limits for fiction writers, place-based writing as a response to environmental crisis, the challenge of endings, some of my favorite writers, and more. Enjoy!
October 2, 2018 § 2 Comments
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A quick update on books and travel, and wishing you all a happy fall!
Everything you might want to know about the collection can be found here; I include a quick summary and some review highlights pasted at the bottom of this post. (It’s been wonderful to see how well the book has been received out in the world, by the way. It seems to have found some “legs” of its own, and I’m most grateful to all of you who’ve purchased, read, reviewed, and/or recommended it.)
New Cuba dates! I’m thrilled to announce an exciting new cultural trip, offered in cooperation with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, timed to coincide with the renowned Havana Art Biennial, April 15 – 23, 2019. This will be a well planned but flexible and culturally rich program, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to go (or return) to Cuba, here it is!
For the writers and aspiring writers out there, consider coming on the fourth annual Cuba Writers Program, May 2- 10, 2019. We have a great time on this program; it’s a wonderful way to experience the vibrant culture of Cuba while honing or kick-starting your writing.
If you have 3-10 friends or family members looking to go to Cuba on your own, I can help you plan a custom, small-group trip that’s fully compliant with U.S. Treasury Department legal requirements. My Havana ground operation and I have organized quite a few of these in the last several years, and we’ve got it down to a fine art. Happy to plan creative custom programs in other parts of the world as well.
Finally, here’s my frequently updated list of upcoming talks, programs, and classes, including events offered in various locations through Grub Street, the Newport MFA in Creative Writing, National Geographic Expeditions, Vermont Humanities Council, various writing conferences, and elsewhere. I hope our paths may cross!
Wishing you all the best,
A high altitude lake is the point of departure for these stories of dark adventure, in which fishing guides, amateur sportsmen, teenage misfits, scientists, mountaineers, and expatriates embark on disquieting journeys of self-discovery in far-flung places. A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Grand Prize Short List and was a finalist in the short story category for both the 2018 American Fiction Awards and the 2017 International Book Awards.
“From the mountain lakes of the Colorado Rockies to cobbled streets of Spain, this fascinating collection of short stories never disappoints. A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing is a collection you’ll be happy to get lost in.” — Ploughshares.
“Provocative and memorable, this collection strikes all the right chords.” — Main Street Rag
“I found myself consuming [these] thirteen tightly wound tales with addictive delight.” — Fiction Writers Review
“Weed’s short stories draw us away from the blue light of device screens. Under the blue skies and dark waters of A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, readers can feel pain, empathy, and purpose bubbling out from the sharp-detailed mental images.” — Pleiades
“Tim Weed proves himself a skilled creator of a sense of place . . . each story deposits one definitively into a geography, of mind and map.” — The Boston Globe
“Weed’s stories . . . are colored by his long experience as a travel and adventure writer . . . His characters are fishermen, mountaineers, and teenagers all on a quest for self-discovery. From the title page to the last page, this is a book of gems.” — Big Sky Journal
“These stories bristle with energy and immediacy. The writing is spare and meticulous and packs a hefty emotional punch. I am not exaggerating when I say this collection kept me up at nights. I just couldn’t stop reading.” — Addison Independent
Order the paperback, ebook, or (new!) audiobook at your favorite independent bookstore or IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Audible. (A limited number of first-edition hardcovers still available here.)
April 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
It’s been a year since the release of A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing in hardcover. This is just a quick post to let you know that the paperback launches today! It’s a nice little book I think, and I’m pleased to report that since the hardcover release there’s been plenty of good news. It’s been shortlisted for two international book awards (one of which is still in process—please keep your fingers crossed), has resulted in a lot of good press including interviews on both Vermont and New Hampshire Public radio (links to both podcasts here), and has continued to garner favorable reviews.
Another bit of news that I’m thrilled to share is that I’ll be starting a job this June on the core faculty of a new low-residency graduate writing program: the “Newport MFA in Creative Writing,” based at Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island (and Havana!). This is the brainchild of my friend, the brilliant Ann Hood, and it’s an exciting new venture in the writing world. If any of you’ve been contemplating a writing MFA, I highly recommend that you check it out!
The coming year is also shaping up to be exciting in terms of travel: I’ll be the National Geographic featured lecturer on a new Douro River cruise navigating from Porto, Portugal, to Salamanca, Spain and back (Sept 23 – Oct 3). I’ll be leading a new off-the-beaten-track program in Eastern Cuba in collaboration with my publisher, Green Writers Press (Nov 5 – 12). And in May, 2019, we’ll be offering the fourth annual Cuba Writers Program in Havana and one other Cuban destination (TBA).
If you’re interested in any of these and/or in other adventures in the months and years to come, you can find details and keep track of evolving dates here. Maybe we’ll see you out in the world! (And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like explore ways to organize an affordable custom trip to Cuba.)
Here’s a photo I just took of the new paperbacks. If you want to get your hands on a copy, now’s an auspicious time to buy one! A wave of purchases around the release date can trigger algorithms that can make books more visible to the public, which is of course extremely helpful for ambitious and little-known authors such as yours truly (as are reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, by the way).
As always, thanks for being out there. I’m deeply grateful for your friendship and support. Please don’t hesitate to send a note if you want to run something by me or simply catch up. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you a happy and productive spring!
March 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
Thought I’d share this link to a few photos of seascapes, landscapes, and cityscapes from the recent Brattleboro Museum & Art Center Cuba trip! These were taken in Havana, Trinidad, Cienega de Zapata National Park, and the Bay of Pigs.
December 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
I’ve fielded quite a few questions in recent months about the advisability of travel to Cuba, given the stories that have been in the news: Hurricane Irma, the “sonic attacks,” and the new restrictions put out by the Trump administration.
Is it no longer possible/advisable/comfortable for Americans to travel to Cuba? Fresh from a wonderful contemporary Cuban art trip with my friend the painter Eric Aho and a group of ten intrepid travel companions, I’m finally in a position to report.
We had no problems with U.S. airport authorities, though we were asked for “paperwork” demonstrating that we were part of an educational group that was in compliance with the new regulations. I showed them our working itinerary, which was all they needed to see. Otherwise there were no barriers on the US side. For a summary of the new regulations, click here.
The flights down and back were nearly empty, a rare experience these days. You could stretch out on the seats, and there was plenty of room in the overheads. It made for an unusually easy and pleasant flight, though one couldn’t help feeling a little regretful on behalf of the many Cuban entrepreneurs who’d staked their futures on the openings for independent travelers under Obama—which have proved all too fleeting, from their perspective, under his successor.
In Havana, little has changed. Arriving in the city is always exhilarating: that feeling of being launched back in time, or at least to a place like nowhere else in the world. There is little visible damage left over from Hurricane Irma, and even less evidence of any effect of the so-called “sonic attacks” on diplomatic workers that have been reported in Havana (and more recently in Uzbekistan). The precise nature of these highly isolated incidents is unknown, what might have caused them, or even whether they were indeed attacks. Many Cubans I’ve spoken to are skeptical.
In any case, there’s little evidence of nefarious events on the streets of Havana, where life goes on as normal. Uniformed schoolkids on the Prado playing soccer. Musicians and roller-bladers and lovers on the marble benches. The usual fishermen on the Malecón. Old cars in the street, families riding on motorcycles with sidecars, jineteros pushing cigars. People going about the business of daily life.
The main difference I could see is that there are so many fewer Americans on the streets than a year or even six months ago. Entrepreneurs have had to adjust their expectations, but there are still plenty of international tourists, so the situation isn’t as desperate as you might think. It’s a palpable slowdown, but everything hasn’t come grinding to a halt. Perhaps the Cubans don’t need us as much as we like to imagine.
One day I got a little stomach bug and spent the day writing, going for short walks, and lounging around in my third-floor hotel room, which had a view into a dance school. I could peer through the breeze-ruffed curtains and watch the young dancers practice all day, reminding me again why I keep coming back to Cuba: the inspiration of being surrounded by people who take pride in their work – whether they are dancers, musicians, painters, mechanics, taxi drivers, fishermen or street sweepers. People who as a result of hard and disciplined daily practice are good at what they do, and find joy in that and in the textures of daily life. People of great, unflappable dignity who remain cheerful and friendly despite obstacles and hardships that are impossible to conceive for those of us that didn’t live them.
In this way as in many others, little has changed in Cuba. It’s still an architectural time capsule, a cultural and natural environment of astounding richness and beauty. It’s still as fun, interesting, and inspiring as ever for the traveler, whether you’re returning or visiting for the first time.
A trip to Cuba at this moment in history is an act of resistance against those who would impinge on our freedom to travel, and in the process damage the fortunes of the same free-market pioneers the new policies claim to support. More importantly, it is a chance increase the bonds of friendship between ourselves and our brothers and sisters on this special island.
Now is as great a time as ever to travel to Cuba. Read more about the options for doing that here.
November 2, 2017 § 2 Comments
It’s been a few years, and I’m thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite regions on the planet with National Geographic Expeditions’ Exploring Patagonia program. This season I’m slated to accompany two trips: one in November, 2017 and a second in January, 2018. We’ll be cruising through Tierra del Fuego in a small, expertly crewed, Chilean-owned ship, the M.V. Stella Australis. We’ll embark from Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, round Cape Horn, and make our way up through the Magdalena Passage and the Agostini Sound, taking advantage of daily Zodiac landings to explore Hornos Island, Wulaia Bay, glaciers, and penguin colonies. Fantastic!
The Stella Australis will then drop us off in Punta Arenas, Chile, and we’ll head up to the stunning wilderness of Torres del Paine, where we’ll have daily opportunities to wander, both on foot and horseback. We can expect to see guanaco, rhea, Andean condor, many other bird species, and possibly even a puma or two. But it’s the vastness and sublime beauty of these wilderness landscapes that is the true highlight here. This part of the world is one of the least densely populated on earth, and it’s never short of inspiring!
I’m excited to be leading the educational aspects of the program in my role as National Geographic’s “featured expert.” Other than informal group interactions the main element of this task is to give a series of illustrated talks: an intro to the history and geography of the region; Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle; American artist and adventurer Rockwell Kent; Ivon Chounard, Douglas Tomkins and “los Fun Hogs.”
I’ll also be giving a brand new talk that I’m thrilled to debut in Patagonia, in which I’ll attempt to make sense of the links between travel, fiction, place-based writing, all in the context of this strange hybrid career of mine.
If you’re signed up for either of these trips, I look forward to traveling with you. If not, stay tuned: there are likely to be similar opportunities in the future!