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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

Neutrino

Proxies, Orca: A Literary Journal

Happy to have a new short story out in a special literary-speculative issue of Orca: A Literary Journal:

“We champion language that is erudite, beautiful, and thought-provoking and stories that are engaging and rich in their depth. We are NOT interested in polemics or stories that tell a reader how he/she/they should think. Instead, we appreciate work that is high concept, imaginative, thoughtful, even speculative, and open to possibilities. The world is shades of gray and our written word should reflect that.”

An interview with Orca co-founder Zachary Kellian

“Proxies” is a Donald Barthelme-inspired epistolary tale about someone who reluctantly agrees to go on a date with a neutrino, that most elusive and mysterious of elementary particles. An excerpt:

“…I think it happened when she brought up Calvino. I had never met anyone who wanted to chat Calvino. I guess when you’re drifting through space and don’t have to worry about bumping into things you have time to mull over invisible cities and people living their entire lives in trees without ever coming down. After the yam tempura I asked how she enjoyed people constantly trying to pursue and define her. She said it was mostly exhausting but sometimes it’s nice when the right person asks the right questions. She talked about how she’s good Facebook friends with Janet Conrad over at MIT and wished more women researchers would do their own thing instead of hopping onto the Higgs-Boson hypetrain and by the way quarks are totally the mean girls of the subatomic world. Maybe that was when it happened. Or maybe it was when she touched on the John Updike poem and the gall of men to wax on about things they knew nothing about.

No mass my ass, she said while polishing off another Frank’s RedHot chicken wing.

But Nepal is nice, I pointed out, remembering the line, the honeymoon.

True, she said after a pause. One of the few places that touched me, actually…”

Orca also features some really practical craft blogs on creative writing, so be sure to check them out as well!

Check out the Issue here

Featured image from Shutterstock by Giroscience

Link and the Forest Temple Jeremy Fenske

Newfound, Journeys to HYRULE_

Delighted that my latest piece of creative nonfiction titled “Journeys to HYRULE_” has found the perfect home with Newfound, a nonprofit publisher and publication that explores how place shapes, identity, imagination, and understanding:

“We believe that a richer experience of place—spaces human-made, natural, conceptual, or otherwise—is requisite in understanding ourselves and our world. Newfound is passionate about positively transforming how we relate to our habitats and bringing about better stewardship of our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, nations, and the globalized world at large.”

Why is Newfound important?

Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda videogame series (both of which I have written about here on Ekostories), “Journeys” is a rumination on the lifelong bonds I’ve forged with a certain virtual world. I was particularly interested in exploring the notion of attachment to a digital realm that is constantly reimagined with each iteration, along with the feeling of returning to a familiar place I have never been:

“…This is not my story but I know its shape. I am not the boy yet I share that joy. Once transmitted, the initial world encompassing that cave and those woods at the outskirts of a Japanese village named SONOBE with a boy named MIYAMOTO changes form from mind to mind, crossing the gulf between the real and unreal, expanding, imparting, shifting. Even now that place does not hold still, slipping away from the old creator contemplating retirement, is turned over to his successor named AONUMA striving to translate and transmute, to retain and refresh, himself having been shaped by a previous HYRULE already described in this essay, this LINK TO THE PAST. Yet this place exists before and endures beyond names and namers, resists attempts to be reduced to myth, even though we try, must always, can only—”

Read the Piece Here

Featured image titled “Link and the Temple Forest” by Jeremy Fenske.

Life Lessons from the Odd and Ancient, The Hopper

Pleased to have a new natural history essay up at The Hopper, an environmental literary magazine from Green Writers Press.

The germ of this came about when I was piecing together an impromptu interpretive talk on living fossils and extinct creatures a few years back. Looking through horseshoe crabs, replica Megalodon teeth, and Cretaceous cypress needles, I was inspired by the many bizarre and under-appreciated organisms throughout Earth’s history, and felt compelled to share some of their stories through wordplay and lyrical prose:

“If you’ve been feeling adrift on the sea of life lately, it might be best to seek guidance from an elder. You may wish to fish one out of the drink, like Captain Hendrik Goosen did one salty morning off the coast of South Africa in 1938, but be sure to verify its credentials first, as curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer did after spotting the creature’s four fleshy fins and puppy dog tail. Surprised at being consulted after four hundred million years, the coelacanth may be inclined to impart its accrued wisdom onto receptive devotees. It may decide to reveal its technique for weathering the world’s turnings even while others succumb to voguish whims, stretching lobes into limbs and hands into wings—ventures, it surmised, which lead only to premature ruination and speciated partings. The venerable fish may choose to convey its knowledge not so much in words, for its brain is too fat-addled to form them and its mouth is more for hinging wide than speaking long, but rather through the shimmers of its chainmail carriage, adamant against change, against sorrow. Delve deep. Hold fast. Stay true, even if the world has forsaken you…”

Interested in literature reexamining nature’s place and role in human life? Check out The Hopper’s collection of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art, ecocriticism, interviews, and more.

Read the Essay Here

 

Featured Photo credit: Wellcome Collection

Lammergeir by Lip Kee

Lammergeier, Journeys to Earthsea

Thrilled that my newest personal essay has found a home in the debut issue of Lammergeier, a literary publication named after one of the coolest birds around:

“Lammergeier, as with so many artistic visions, starts with a bird. Lammergeiers eat almost exclusively bones. Using its large, powerful wings, the lammergeier drops bones from the great heights to crack them open and access the marrow inside. The lammergeier is also renowned for its plumage: brilliant rusty-hued feathers and dark, bristled faces created both by the luck of birth and the wear and tear of its mountain habits. We here at Lammergeier look for the beautiful vulture, the wonder uncovered digging through the grotesque, the sustaining viscera inside the carcass.”

About Us, Lammergeier

“Journeys to Earthsea” delves into the trips I’ve made over the decades to what is arguably the most famous fictional archipelago:

Narveduen. The name is what draws my eye. NAR-VE-DU-EN. The sound is what holds true. Surrounding it, the isles of Derhemen, Onon, and Hille. South and west, the scraps of rock above which dragons wheel in sunlight and glory. These details are only important in relation. Yet the relations themselves are important. For Narveduen, this isle I know only through the sound of its name, lies close to another isle I shall come to visit time and again: Selidor, the desolate heart, the farthest shore. But this comes later, always later—”

I had the honour to chat more about the piece and what it meant to me with Ashely Adams, Lammergeier’s nonfiction editor. You can read the full interview HERE. Until next time!

​Read the Essay Here

Feature image credit: Lip Kee