Kent Nelson

Kent Nelson is the author of the novels Language in the Blood and Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still. His short fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories, The Best of the West, O. Henry, Pushcart, and The Best American Mystery Stories. An avid birdwatcher, Nelson has identified 757 North American species. After the age of fifty-four, he has twice run the Pikes Peak MarathonÐ26.3 miles, 7,815 feet up and down. He lives in Ouray, Colorado.

The Spirit Bird


Winner of the 2014 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

The flight path of The Spirit Bird traces many landscapes and different transitory lives. A young man scratches out a living from the desert; a woman follows a rarely seen bird in the far reaches of Alaska; a poor single mother sorts out her life in a fancy mountain town. Other protagonists yearn to cross a racial divide, keep developers from a local island, explore their sexuality, and mourn a lost loved one. The characters in this collection are compelled to seek beyond their own horizons, and as the stories unfold, the search becomes the expression of their desires. The elusive spirit bird is a metaphor for what we’ve lost, for what we hope for, and for what we don’t know about ourselves.