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spirited-away-dreamscape

The Ecological Imagination of Hayao Miyazaki, Orion Magazine

It’s not every day that you get to work on a dream project with a dream publication. I’m excited to share that I have a new piece up online at Orion magazine, exploring the ecological imagination of Hayao Miyazaki.

Where the word for forest is silence
A tree and troll to watch over me
Carrying on through a wayward world
Reading the wind, mending the earth

An introduction to the work of the venerated Japanese animator/filmmaker (who happened to turn 80 this year), the piece is also a retrospective on four movies dearest to my heart: Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki tales were major sources of inspiration for me starting Ekostories—you can read everything I’ve written over the years in the archives HERE.

And when you’re done, don’t forget to check out the rest of Orion’s latest issue (and hopefully subscribe!) It’s seriously fantastic both in terms of production value and in-depth content that explores the connections between people and nature. Here’s a snippet:

IN THIS ISSUE, we peer into the ways in which humans depict nature. In “Lifelike,” Ella Frances Sanders shares illustrated musings on the essence of landscape. Emily Raboteau takes us on a bird walk through Harlem in “Spark Bird.”…In “Contemplative Topography” by Silvia Cirelli, the character of landscape is revealed through art. Cecil Howell provides a “Forest Cartography” that illustrates the decadence of life and trash in the Alaskan Tongass. Anya Groner writes about what a journey to a desert shrine reveals about language and desire. In “The Nature of Plastics,” Meera Subramanian explores the edge of the artificial. In “Wish you Were Here,” Sharlene Leurig and Jessica Gath sends postcards to the future. Benjamin Swett uncovers the divine architecture of the Shakers in “What I Wanted to Tell You About the Wind.” Nikki McClure illustrates an excerpt from a Rachel Carson television documentary, and more.”

Orion’s Spring 2021 Introduction

Read the Issue Here

Featured Image with permission from Studio Ghibli

Southern White Rhino

Second Best is Best, Gulf Coast Online

I’m particularly excited to announce that a new essay published online over at Gulf Coast, a journal co-founded by one of my favourite writers, Donald Barthelme.

“Second Best is Best” is one in a collection I’m working on where I try to cram as many creatures and entities into a single piece of prose as possible and still have it be semi-coherent. Inspired by the whimsical journeys of Amy Leach’s Things That Are and the mental leaps in so much of Italo Calvino’s work (both writers I’ve written about in Ekostories), I wanted to craft something that highlights the riotous and irrepressible nature of this planet and its inhabitants, even as we live through tumultuous times. Here’s a quote:

Sometimes being at the top isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, like if you were declared the world’s tallest mountain one day by a Bengali mathematician and then named for a British surveyor you will never meet. The natural outcome of this is that tourists will start clambering over you, ascending your north and south sides, leaving trashed tents and oxygen tanks and corpse after popsicled corpse on your slopes. No, sometimes it is better to trail a thousand feet below and cultivate your image cautiously, like how K2 worked its magic on Italian mountaineer Fosco Maraini over the years. “Just the bare bones of a name,” he waxes about Earth’s second highest peak, “all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man—Or of the cindered planet after the last.” There’s nothing quite like when someone takes the time to understand the persona you try so hard to project: in this case, rarefied and insuperable.

You can read the rest of the piece over at Gulf Coast. Be sure to check out the rest of the issue, plus the winning entries for their short prose contests—they’re fantastic!

Read the Full Essay Here

Image from wikimedia commons by Henry Marion.

Tiny Molecules: One Summer, by Iceland

One more piece of news to cap off the year: I’m delighted to have found a home for a new story in the winter issue of Tiny Molecules, an online quarterly literary magazine of small fiction. “One Summer, in Iceland” features the titular island of fire and ice as protagonist, or so it seems:

Yesterday for the first time this spring the rains died the clouds broke and the sun held taut in the sky. The waterfall foam-frothed and rose the way it did and up arced a rainbow. Light pouring over fresh basalt curving out of the ground like a wing plume. Soon the terns and puffins will return to nest above where you stood. Soon the rock and salt and shit will meld and craze into life. As I watch this future happen I will nestle into the cleft between our two stones. When I lay down I will sigh my breath into the wind and take in your old scent.”

You can read the whole story and other pieces of flash fiction, freshly published in Issue Seven of Tiny Molecules.

Read the Full Story Here

Flash Fiction Magazine: Last Light

I have a new piece of flash fiction (stories that are less than 1,000 words) over at Flash Fiction Magazine. “Last Light” uses the concept of lightspeed as a means to convey the time and distance necessary for healing:

It’s been a thousand days since the sun died. Our star. My heart. It takes last light eight minutes to kiss the brow of the hill and home where we once were. Where little feet of twins pattered above our heads. Where the pampas grass in the yard grew tall and nodded in the summer breeze. It takes the morning to pack your belongings into the rental sedan. I’ll call you when I settle in. On that final sunbeam you rode away. In the driveway I stood and watched the light go.”

You can read the full story and many others, published daily at Flash Fiction Magazine.

Read the Full Story Here

Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop

Isla San Francisquito

The Willowherb Review: El Lugar de Los Sueños

I’m pleased to have a new essay out in the latest issue of The Willowherb Review, a publication celebrating nature writing from emerging and established writers of colour:

“Why ‘Willowherb’? Chamaenerion angustifolium, commonly known as rosebay willowherb or fireweed, is a plant that thrives on disturbed ground. Its seeds do well when transported to new and difficult terrain, so some—not us—may call it a weed.” 

About The Willowherb Review

This issue explores the theme of habitation: What does it mean to inhabit a space? El Lugar de Los Sueños strives to weave natural history and personal meditation of one place, La Paz and the surrounding Gulf of California, into a coherent whole, mimicking the holistic stylings of The Log of the Sea of Cortez, the muse text that lies at the heart of the piece (and one I’ve explored before here on Ekostories). I was keen to revisit a location from a few years back, to retrace and revive the words of a beloved work, and also to form a new reality of a space I am conjuring from memory, a place known for its dream-like quality:

“Back on solid ground after six days at sea, my mind resisted stillness, continued to sway and shift. On the Sunday afternoon I meandered through La Paz. There was a familiar quality to the quiet hot streets; an air, a stirring, a flavour. I thought of how Steinbeck mused that he had never seen a town resembling this one, yet coming upon it was akin to returning rather than visiting. I lowered my head as I walked. Yes. I knew these closed shops with rolled down steel doors. The old men sitting on crates in front, fanning themselves. The chipped sidewalks with large uneven steps sloping towards the water. Then I spotted a sign that would cinch the connection—Bazar Hong Kong—and suddenly I am Marco Polo in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, describing to Kublai Khan in shared dreams all the fantastical places he had visited, like this La Paz, yet always through the lens of an initial city that remains implicit, through an unspoken homeplace, my version of Polo’s Venice. 

 

Then, again, Steinbeck: “…there comes a pang, some kind of emotional jar, and a longing.”

I’m honoured to be part of this diverse collection of voices from all around the world, which is so critical when it comes to the field of nature writing. I hope you have the chance to check out the entire issue HERE. Happy reading!

Read the Essay Here

Feature Image credit: Lela Sankeralli