Year: 2015

Wild Ideas Soyeon Kim Solutions

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking

From the creators of You are Stardust comes Wild Ideas, the latest picture book by environmental educator Dr. Elin Kelsey and mixed-media artist Soyeon Kim. Smaller in scope but more personal than Stardust, Wild Ideas employs a blend of language, art, and science to highlight humanity’s kinship with the animal world while showcasing nature as an inspirational force.

Maple Trees Canopy

The Tolkien Ensemble: Treebeard’s Song

On more than one occasion, I’ve been tempted to write a feature on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The trilogy along with The Silmarillion is dear to me, a master feat of world-building and myth-making that remains unrivalled in scope and grandeur. (I remain one of the unfashionable few who enjoys the irreverent songs and lengthy descriptions) Even a cursory glance at the text reveals a host of themes and motifs ripe for an Ekostory exploration: The pastoral Shire threatened by looming machinations; the fading of the Elves giving way to the coming age of Men; the propensity of power to corrupt all with noble and pure intentions; the quiet courage of ordinary folk. And yet, I hesitate. So much already exists in terms of Tolkien scholarship – I don’t feel like I have anything original to contribute. The work speaks for itself. But while I may not be up for analyzing Tolkien’s magnum opus, I can at least express my appreciation for some small portion of it. It’s not quite autumn here yet, …

Hong Kong Cityscape

Place and Memory: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

I’m not sure how to describe Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It isn’t traditional fiction on a structural level, having no story arc or a defined ending. Nor is it conventional fantasy, doing away with the worlds it creates almost as soon as it forms them. Even the broadest definitions of historical fiction and magical realism don’t quite fit, as Calvino blends real and imagined details into a concoction of seemingly irreverent tales. Invisible Cities is a travelogue to places that do not exist. It is a work that brushes aside conventions of form and narrative to ruminate on ideas of memory and place, touching on everything from trajectory of civilizations to the limits of communication. At times delightfully whimsical and intensely melancholic, Invisible Cities is a testament to the power of an author at the height of his powers to provoke, enthrall, and connect.

BreadLoaf Conference Nametag

Thoughts on the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference

To say my time at the Bread Loaf Orion Writer’s conference was transformative is not quite right. The change I feel is more subdued, more covert, still unfurling after a week. It will take a lot longer to fully unpack, but I suspect that something new has taken root, and that things have been shaken loose. Perhaps this is how one feels after summoning the courage to start going down a new and uncertain road. Fitting then that this came about in the presence of Robert Frost’s cabin, in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Oak Tree from Wikimedia

Orion Bread Loaf Conference for Environmental Writers

Excited to be attending this year’s Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont from June 1-7. A bit about the conference: “The Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference is an annual week-long writers’ conference, based on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model, that’s designed to hone the skills of people interested in producing literary writing about the environment and the natural world. The conference is cosponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Orion magazine, and Middlebury College’s Environmental Studies Program.  … This week-long conference of workshops, classes, lectures, readings, and discussions is for writers who want to improve their writing about the environment; for writers who seek to become better advocates for the environment through their writing; for poets who are drawn to writing about the natural world; for teachers and scholars who wish to write for a more general readership; and for environmental professionals who want to bring better writing skills to bear on their work.” I’ll be part of the non-fiction workshop led by Craig Childs, author of …