Phillips and Ruth Lee Thygeson were pioneers in 20th century medical research on external diseases of the human eye. This husband-and-wife team discovered the cause of trachoma, the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness. Seeking the Light is the story of a lifelong collaboration in medicine and an unending quest to conquer preventable blindness around the world.
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"Giant clams that give birth to the world, cannibalistic ghosts, and tender love stories swirl through these legends of the Pacific Islands. The authors provide a historical and geographical context for this collection of tales from an oral tradition…. The islanders' belief in magic and spirits, along with their violence, compassion, and humor, dominate the stories." - Kirkus Reviews
The Poetic Avant-Garde compares three avant-garde groups in the era between the world wars: those surrounding Jorge Luis Borges, W.H. Auden, and André Breton. Strong looks at the choices these groups made when their radical goals collided with forces of social and political change. The book focuses on the avant-garde's struggle to reconcile contradictory imperatives: a desire to be radically new while holding an audience and surviving against the odds.
These traditional Micronesian tales reveal how lost islands were raised from the ocean floor, ghost men ruled, a girl forgetting her mother’s warning gave birth to twin sharks, a carnivorous bird-monster was tamed, and the first dugong came to be. They are about the deep relationship between islanders and a vast ocean, and lessons about survival on tiny islands sprinkled across the sea.
Beret E. Strong is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, as well as a writer, researcher, and educator. She holds a Ph.D. from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has taught at Brown University, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Strong is the author of several books in various genres: The Poetic Avant-Garde: The Groups of Borges, Auden, and Breton (Northwestern University Press), Pacific Island Legends: Tales from Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australia (The Bess Press), Micronesian Legends (The Bess Press), and Seeking the Light: The Lives of Phillips and Ruth Lee Thygeson, Pioneers in the Prevention of Blindness (McFarland and Company, Inc.) She has also published articles, poems, and book reviews in publications ranging from the Journal of the American Medical Association to California Lawyer to Literature and Psychology.
Strong’s films have been broadcast on PBS in the U.S. and Canada, and have screened at festivals and organizational screenings in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Japan, Turkey, Uganda, Ecuador, Bolivia, Oceania, Australia, Greece, Spain, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and India. She has won numerous awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the IDA / ABC News Videosource Award (nominee), the National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists Insight Award, Community Shares “Social Justice Film of the Year Award,” Directors Citation Award (Black Maria Film Festival), North and South America Best Feature Film Award (Nüren Film Festival), Best Female Filmmaker (International New York Film Festival), and Best Woman Filmmaker (Canadian Diversity Film Festival). Her films focus on social justice, education, and ethnography. Topics include African refugee girls, neocolonialism, a refuge for rescued wolves, autism, the rights of children with disabilities, the battle of Iwo Jima and the American nuclear legacy, women in prison, the legacy of slavery and dance among Afro-Bolivians, and indigenous history and culture in Micronesia.
Strong has an extensive background in nonprofit volunteerism. She is Executive Director of Opportunity Tree, an organization dedicated to educational opportunity for children and youth in Central America. She served on the CNMI Council for the Humanities, a branch of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in Micronesia, and was Chair of the Program Review and Evaluation Committee, and Chair of the National Conversation on American Identity and Pluralism Project. She was awarded the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Humanities, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. She has served on other boards of directors, and contributed time and expertise to numerous nonprofits.
In her capacity as writer and filmmaker, she has been interviewed for statewide broadcast on Colorado Public Radio and on local radio in the U.S. and Micronesia. She has appeared on television and has spoken publicly numerous times, mainly in support of films she was produced/directed and on behalf of nonprofits she has served.
Do you have an idea for a research-based book but lack the sleuthing or writing skills to bring it to fruition? Or do you have a book in progress that needs conceptual editorial help? For the last 30 years, Beret has written books and essays – from the literary and historical to the social and biological. Beret also has been a freelance editor and an oral history interviewer. She believes in lyrical writing and truth-telling. If you want to learn more, please contact her at
beretstrong [at ] gmail [dot] com.
Beret is also a documentary filmmaker. Learn more about her films at landlockedfilms.com
Background photo credit:
Bergonic chair | Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine | CC BY