Fox, William L(yman) 1949- (Ian Tarnman)

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FOX, William L(yman) 1949- (Ian Tarnman)


Born November 26, 1949, in San Diego, CA; son of Elbert Marr and Janet Elizabeth (Lyman) Fox; married Mary C. Culpepper, March 17, 1978. Education: Claremont Men's College, B.A. (cum laude), 1971.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of Nevada Press, Mail Stop 166, Reno, NV 89557-0076.


Poet, author, editor, artist. Edge, overseas editor, 1969-72; West Coast Poetry Review, Reno, NV, cofounder, publisher, and editor, 1972-93; Sierra Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, associate director, 1979; Nevada Council on the Arts, deputy director, 1984-93. Served on the board of directors of the Squaw Valley Community of Creative Arts; consultant to the Nevada Council on the Arts and the National Endowment on the Arts.


Visiting writer to the Antarctic, National Science Foundation, 2001-02; Wilbur S. Shepperson Book Award, Nevada Humanities Committee and the University of Nevada Press, 2002 for Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty; Guggenheim fellowship, 2002-03, for studies on the perception of space in the Antarctic; visiting scholar, Getty Research Institute.



Iron Wind, Sono Nis Press (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), 1971.

Trial Separation, Caveman Press (Dunedin, New Zealand), 1972.

Election,, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 1974.

Monody, Laughing Bear Press (Dallas, TX), 1977.

(Under pseudonym Ian Tarnman) First Principles, Future Press (New York, NY), 1978.

21 and Over, Duck Down Press (Fallon, NV), 1982.

Time by Distance, Duck Down Press (Fallon, NY), 1985.

Reliquaire, Duck Down Press (Fallon, NY), 1987.

(Editor) Seven Nevada Poets, Rainshadow Editions (Reno, NV), 1991.

One Wave Standing, La Alameda Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1998.

Reading Sand: Selected Desert Poems, 1976-2000, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 2002.


(Editor) TumbleWords: Writers Reading the West ("Western Literature" series), University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 1995.

Mapping the Empty: Eight Artists and Nevada, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 1999.

Driving by Memory, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1999.

The Void, the Grid, and the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 2000.

View Finder: Mark Klett, Photography, and the Reinvention of Landscape, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2001.

The Black Rock Desert ("Desert Places" series), photographs by Mark Klett, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2002.

Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty ("Environmental Arts and Humanities" series), University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies and works by others, including Robert O. Beckmann: The Body of a House, Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, NV), 1993.


William L. Fox's first volumes were poetry collections. American Book Review's Dennis Formento reviewed Time by Distance, an early compilation of work Fox wrote while on a trip through the Himalayas in the early 1970s, many of which resemble traditional Japanese haiku. Formento wrote that "because Fox avoids the large themes and ideas, his sympathy with just plain folks shows through."

In the poems of One Wave Standing, Fox uses waves—waves of water, waves of sound—as a metaphor in his meditations on subjects as diverse as nature and human loss. When Fox was growing up on the California coast, his father worked with radio telescopes and radar and was preoccupied with electromagnetic waves, and in Fox's poems there is a sense that his father was unable to communicate with him. A reviewer for Weekly Wire online commented that Fox "writes with such brio that the imagery never grows tired."

In Mapping the Empty: Eight Artists and Nevada, Fox writes about visual artists Jim McCormick, Rita Deanin Abbey, Dennis Parks, Walter McNamara, Robert Beckmann, Michael Heizer, Bill Barker, and Mary Ann Bonjorni. Theirs is postmodern art, not the cowboy art that is often duplicated to be sold in gift shops. "Landscape is his theme," wrote Bert Almon in Western American Literature, "a theme of central importance to anyone interested in western writing. In discussing his painters, he observes a process of land and artist informing each other and 'how that process helps create the larger cultural perception we label landscape, a mental construct transforming a neutral terrain into a place where we live.'" Almon concluded that the book "makes a fascinating introduction to avant-garde art in the West and will provide students of literary texts with issues to consider."

Driving by Memory comprises Fox's recollections of his many road trips to Las Vegas from the various states in which he has lived. He writes about landscape and how it is changed by architecture, art, and design. He also notes the history of the region and how it has been changed by both the natural and cultural world.

In The Void, the Grid, and the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin, Fox studies the driest of the American deserts, the nearly quarter of a million acres of land spanning most of Nevada and much of Utah. "The Void" focuses on the appearance of the Great Basin, while "The Grid" studies the cartography of the area and the nineteenth-century explorations of John Charles Frémont as he searched for the legendary Buenaventura River. Then Fox notes how the land was sectioned with our own gridwork of roads, railroads, telegraph lines, and highways. "The Sign" considers the words and metaphors we use to describe the Great Basin, from the vast desert to the glitter of Las Vegas.

View Finder: Mark Klett, Photography, and the Reinvention of Landscape, as its name implies, honors Klett and studies the broader subject of landscape. Fox traveled the Nevada desert with Klett, who has photographed it for more than two decades. Klett was part of the Rephotographic Survey Project in the 1970s, the purpose of which was to locate and rephotograph the sites photographed in the nineteenth-century survey of the West by such photographers as Timothy O'Sullivan and William Henry Jackson. Klett more recently returned to many of these sites to photograph them once again. Fox studies Klett's role in documenting the landscape and the roles of others, including Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, and Edward Weston. Choice reviewer T. Sexton called View Finder "an important book. The documented transformation of the West in a little more than a century is both chilling and compelling."

Fox and Klett collaborated on The Black Rock Desert, a visual and philosophical study of the only absolute desert on the continent, four hundred square miles of dry lake bed uninhabited by vegetation or insect, except for the Burning Man Festival held on Labor Day, when thousands come to celebrate. In Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty, Fox considers other such places, dry beds of the lakes that once covered the Great Basin, some of the flattest and most barren spots on the planet.



Afterimage, July, 2001, Stephen Longmire, review of View Finder: Mark Klett, Photography, and the Reinvention of Landscape, p. 14.

American Book Review, November, 1987, Dennis Formento, review of Time by Distance, p. 17.

Ceramics Monthly, September, 1999, review of Mapping the Empty, p. 34.

Choice, September, 2001, T. Sexton, review of View Finder, p. 106.

Western American Literature, winter, 1997, Sandra Gail Teichmann, review of Tumblewords: Writers Reading the West, p. 392; fall, 1999, Bert Almon, "A Fruitful Emptiness: Poets and Artists of the Great Basin Region," pp. 346-354.


Las Vegas Mercury, (September 12, 2002), Geoff Schumacher, review of Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty.

Weekly Wire, (September 21, 1998), review of One Wave Standing.*