Author: Isaac Yuen

Sergeant Major Fish Shoal

A School is a Type of Shoal, wildness journal

My latest essay is part of issue 30 of wildness, a UK-based online journal featuring work from both established and emerging writers that embraces the mysteries of the self and the outside world. Come for the fish shoals, stay for the bird flocks and the many things related or distant in this piece about community, contact, and communion: “…While to shoal is to be social, which permits some degree of ragtag in makeup and disposition, to school is to sweep in unison together, to glint in the faces of would-be-foes together, dazzling the world with coherence. This level of coordination demands constant vigilance, should, for example, a silver sprat take its eyes off its nearest compatriot, it may find itself suddenly not schooling at all but struck against kin and stricken from the collective, beyond which sailfish patrolling for truants may herd it off with sails and speed and general stealthiness. If enough eyes are corralled away, the entire school can lose its accreditation, ceasing to possess those emergent qualities afforded with being legion, like …

hermit crab

A Hearth is a Kind of Home, Pleiades: Literature in Context

Happy to have another nature essay published, this time in the spring 2022 issue of Pleiades, “a literary biannual featuring poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews by authors from around the world.” This issue features a special folio of Latinx LGBTQIA+ Poets, so be sure to check it out! Titled “A Hearth is a Kind of Home,” my latest piece is a romp around the notion of shelters grown/crafted/scavenged across the world, spanning everything from singing scallops and extinct ammonites to the longhouses of deposed despots and the communal nests of social weaver birds. Here’s an excerpt: “…In the end, a home is forged through its inhabitation. Gravitas, Apollo & Associates may have accreted stardust into rocky orbs, but tenant quality is a chief reason why Earth remains magnetic while Mars rests rusty and derelict. Diligent renters like asparagus ferns and phytoplankton can infuse a space with literal feng shui regardless of placement, while members of the mycelial network are the most cleanliness-obsessed caretakers you will ever find, being matter-breaker-downers by trade. To be sure there are loud and noisy …

The Perfect Party Guest, Center for Humans and Nature

Delighted to share that I have an essay published by the Center for Humans and Nature, “a nonprofit organization, publisher, forum, and place to explore, connect, and nurture our understandings of and responsibilities to the natural world.” Titled “The Perfect Party Guest,” the piece makes the case of considering certain creatures to your next gathering/shindig, ones that are perhaps not on everyone’s radar. Here’s an excerpt: “When deciding on whom to invite to your next gathering, be sure to extend consideration to the sloth. Either the two-toed or three-toed variety will do, for each distant relation will have unique insights to share about their suspensorial lifestyles, which is just a tongue-pleasing way of describing upside-down living on trees. These days you needn’t even worry about tailoring the invitation like you would eleven thousand years ago, when sloths of the giant and grounded species might suddenly show up at your door, not being able to fit through, and wouldn’t that be dreadfully embarrassing, having to turn away guests because the fire code for your condo common …

Crafting with Ursula: Writing Nature and Nature Writing

I’m very excited to share a recent conversation I had with David Naimon, host of Between the Covers. A bit about the show: Between the Covers , a literary radio show and podcast hosted by David Naimon, is brought to you by Tin House. These long-form in-depth conversations have been singled out by the Guardian, Book Riot, the Financial Times, and BuzzFeed as one of the most notable book podcasts for writers and readers around.  I’ve been a big fan of David’s interviews for years, having come across his work through his three craft talks with Ursula K. Le Guin, which was later published as the book Conversations on Writing. (His own creative writing is also amazing.) So imagine my delight and surprise when he approached me to contribute to a new series called “Crafting with Ursula,” in particular around the subject of nature writing. Some of the stories we discussed, like “Direction of the Road” and the “Author of Acacia Seeds“, have been featured in the past here on Ekostories. Others, like “The Bones of the Earth” and “Vaster …

Clouds in Finland

Utter, Earth – AGNI Magazine

Thrilled to cap off the year with a few pieces of publication news! My latest essay titled “Utter, Earth” has been published in issue 94 of AGNI Magazine, a literary journal based out of Boston University. (Update: The piece has been selected to be part of Pushcart Prize XLVII: Best of the Small Presses 2023—a tremendous honour!) A bit about the issue: “Utter, Earth” is a curation of scientific extracts, organized in the fashion of a Rafil Kroll-Zaidi’s “Findings” from Harper’s (I love his interview with Tin House called “Findings is a Dolphin“), but a bit more focused around the goings and comings of the natural world. Within the piece you’ll find elephants and elephantnosefish and diabolical ironclad beetles and everything else in between. Here’s an excerpt: “Weddell seals vocalize nine types of sounds beyond the range of human hearing. Guinea baboons learn to grunt in the accent of their preferred social group. Glass frogs pitch their calls higher near roaring waterfalls while waving hello to potential mates. The croaks of male gulf corvina resemble …