Etching by Searah Deysach
Etching by Searah Deysach

On Saturday mornings throughout my childhood, my father and I often ended up in the long, echoing halls of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. His pinkie in my small hand, we walked slowly, pausing to peer through glass at static worlds. While my dad pontificated about carnivores or the Pleistocene Epoch, I lost myself in landscapes both long ago and far away.

I loved every still life we passed, but my favorite taxidermied creature of all was the ibex. He stood on the edge of a cliff high above the valley floor, his ridged horns curving dramatically behind his head.

Week after week, I stood in the ibex’s presence, drawn to both his grace and the rugged environment he inhabited. To me, the ibex represented adventure, risk, and wild beauty—so many of the things I hoped my life would one day contain. Not only did I long for all that the ibex stood for, he was my nick-namesake. For as long as I could remember, my dad had greeted me with a booming, “Hi Bex the Ibex!” It followed then, that I, too, was bound for a life perched on cliff edges.

IMG_9271This quest for adventure eventually led me to Prescott College in Arizona where I studied ecology and adventure education; to Yellowstone’s high country where I discovered cross-country skiing and my voice as a writer; and on to the University of Montana where I received a master’s degree in Environmental Writing and began my teaching career. In 2006 I moved to Portland, Oregon to create a life built of words and wildness.

My work has appeared in magazines and literary journals including Terrain, Mamalode, Ms. Fit Magazine, Earthspeak,  Whitefish Review, Punk PlanetNervy GirlCamasMountain Gazette, and Orion Online; I have received residency awards from the Trillium Project at OSU, the Environmental Writing Institute, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Artists’ Guild, and Vermont Studio Center; and I have taught environmental studies and writing courses for Prescott College, The University of Montana, Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center, PCC’s Art Beat Festival, The Cascade Mountain School, The Center at Heron Hill, The Multnomah Art Center, Outward Bound, Interlocken Center for Experiential Education, Women’s Voices for the Earth, the Watershed Education Network, Wild Rockies Tours, Write Around Portland, and Zenger Farm. I have also edited countless articles, term papers, and entire websites and book manuscripts for small businesses and individuals. Check out One WIth Heart Tulen Center’s website to see my latest project (and their awesome martial arts programming for kids and adults!).

ecstatic wanderer 2
Drawing by Becca Deysach

While these experiences all have been critical to my development as a writer and teacher, the most powerful of all was given to me by Phil Condon at the University of Montana. In 2005, I was asked to design and teach a creative writing course for the Environmental Studies Department— and Writing the Wild was born. For three hours every week the world dropped away while ten undergrads and I connected with each other, our pasts, and our most creative selves by exploring, playing, writing, and sharing at the edge of the Clark Fork River. I had never loved my work so much.

It is these things— connection to others and the earth, creativity, meaningful work, and my love of writing— that inspired me to open Ibex Studios. While Ibex Studios’ offerings vary in length, breadth, and topic, they all strive to open and inspire participants while teaching writing skills in a safe, supportive, and adventurous atmosphere. I hope you will join us, pen in hand and bold in spirit.

Peace and good writing!