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Deep Listening

Updated: Apr 25

By Olivia Juarez


River Writing facilitator, poet, and Great Salt Lake vigil keeper Nan Seymour often doles out the invitation to give yourself to the opportunity for deep listening. She guides people to enjoy the luxury of listening without needing to form your response while someone else is talking. I have found that giving your undivided attention is an exercise that requires skill — a skill that needs to be sharpened by constant practice. 


Nan Seymour and Sarah May dressed up in local bird species costumes after their Save the Species, Great Salt Lake Vigil at the Utah State Capitol.

Nan Seymour and Sarah May dressed up in local bird species costumes after their Save the Species, Great Salt Lake Vigil at the Utah State Capitol.


In late January, I had the privilege of interviewing Nan Seymour and Sarah May (Making Waves for Great Salt Lake Collaborative artists, poets and vigil keepers) for our upcoming episode about love and Great Salt Lake. During the interview, I learned something else about deep listening: that sometimes it is just the natural way. I found myself so taken by their reflections on loving Great Salt Lake that only my body language could respond. I noticed my palms clutching my heart’s center of the chest. It was as if my heartbeat was emulating outside of my chest to become its own body, taking time to soak in and be nourished by the truths and emotions laid out on the studio table that day. 


But me, the podcast co-host? I often had nothing to say in response. Not necessarily because I am an expert deep listener, but because these two were unequivocal and captivating. So in true River Writing style, often there was only one thing left to say: thank you.



Nan Seymour and Sarah May dressed up in handmade local bird species costumes, teaching a song to a large group of people at the Utah State Capitol building in support of saving the species of Great Salt Lake.

Nan Seymour and Sarah May dressed up in handmade local bird species costumes, teaching a song to a large group of people at the Utah State Capitol building in support of saving the species of Great Salt Lake.



Thank you Nan, Sarah, and Ameila Diehl, podcast co-producer for your contributions to this upcoming episode and the Stay Salty: Lakefacing Stories podcast! Great Salt Lake gave the word lakefacing to Nan, who in turn brought it to us salty people. And thank you to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for offering use of the recording studio! We’re excited to bring this episode on love and more to you in the spring. 


Olivia Juarez (they/them) is a lifelong Utahn based in Salt Lake City, UT and is a co-host of Stay Salty: Lakefacing Stories. They serve as the Public Land Program Director of GreenLatinos. They are committed to nurturing Latino/a/e joy and leadership in conserving nuestra tierra pública.

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