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The Slow Farm

In the early 1970s, Wilson’s hippie parents packed the family into a converted school bus with “Suck Nixon” painted on the side and aimed for the Canadian wilderness. They planned to raise their two young children close to the earth and free of shallow middle class values. When they settle on a remote island in British Columbia, their idealism smacks up against reality and threatens to tear apart the family. 


Between each short lyric chapter, Wilson incorporates “artifacts” that illuminate the cultural forces shaping her parents’ decisions, such as letters, recipes, photographs, timelines, newspaper clippings, and provocative excerpts from A Radical Approach to Child Rearing. 


With both empathy and clear-eyed honesty, Wilson deconstructs the simplified narratives of the counterculture movement by sharing the story of one young, eager, flawed family’s efforts to live the ideal. The book celebrates the power of the natural world, invites us to ask questions about how we raise children, and takes us on a journey of forgiveness. Ultimately, Wilson’s story, although unusual, is all of ours: the path “from the world as we wish it were to the one that exists,” with all its beauty and imperfections.

In this coming-of-age memoir, Tarn Wilson explores the gifts and burdens of a counterculture childhood.

Praise for The Slow Farm

Stanford Magazine says, “Tales of her youthful fits and starts could spark nostalgia even in those who didn’t grow up romping around in the words with near complete freedom.”

Lia Purpura, award-winning poet and essayist, writes that Wilson “reconstructs the powerful atmosphere of a past era, its magic, contentment and freedom, its restrictions and losses.”

Brenda Miller, co-author of Tell It Slant, praises “a textured memoir of childhood that captures the zeitgeist of the 60s . . .” 

The genre-defining essayist Judith Kitchen says, “Tarn Wilson deftly turns memoir into an interactive project.”

About Tarn Wilson

Tarn Wilson

Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm (Ovenbird Books: Judith Kitchen Selects, 2014). She earned her MA in education from Stanford and her MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop. Her work appears in Brevity, Defunct, Gulf Stream, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Inertia, Ruminate, River Teeth, South Loop Review, and The Sun, among others, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

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