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Signal: Notes on the Desert

Prose by Gregory McNamee                                                [launch full photo essay]
Photography by Stephen Strom

View photo essay >>Desert. The very word conjures up mystery, evokes the windswept fastnesses of Beau Geste and Lawrence of Arabia. That mystery may be a sign of its imprecision, for the term embraces an improbably vast range of landscapes, from the comparatively lush columnar cactus forests of Arizona and Sonora to the Antarctic, where 90 percent and more of the planet’s freshwater lies locked in ice.

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Gregory McNamee is an author, editor, photographer, and publisher based in Tucson. He is the author of thirty books, including Careers in Renewable Energy (PixyJack Press), Blue Mountains Far Away: Journeys Into the American Wilderness (Lyons Press), and the forthcoming Aelian's On the Nature of Animals (Trinity University Press). He is also the author of Otero Mesa: Preserving America's Wildest Grassland (University of New Mexico Press), with photographs by Stephen Capra and Stephen Strom.

Stephen Strom graduated from Harvard College and also received his master's and Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University. From 1964 until his retirement in 2007, Strom has held appointments at Harvard, SUNY Stony Brook, UMass, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. His research contributions focus on developing an understanding of how stars and planetary systems form. Stephen began photographing in 1978. His work, largely interpretations of landscapes, has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and is held in several permanent collections including the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Oklahoma Art Museum, the Mead Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His photography complements poems and essays in three books published by the University of Arizona Press: Secrets from the Center of the World, a collaboration with Muscogee poet Joy Harjo; Sonoita Plain: Views of a Southwestern Grassland, a collaboration with ecologists Jane and Carl Bock; and Tseyi' (Deep in the Rock): Reflections on Canyon de Chelly co-authored with Navajo poet Laura Tohe. His other books are Otero Mesa: America's Wildest Grassland, with Gregory McNamee and Stephen Capra, University of New Mexico Press (2008) and a monograph comprising 43 images, Earth Forms, was published in 2009 by Dewi Lewis Publishing.

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