Happy to have had an opportunity to chat about the fantastical worlds of Hayao Miyazaki on Imaginary Worlds, a podcast series hosted by Eric Molinsky on science fiction, fantasy, and other genres of speculative fiction:
“Environmental stewardship has been a consistent theme throughout his work, from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away to Princess Mononoke. But what exactly has he been saying all this time about our relationship to the natural world? I gather a panel of experts to discuss the worlds that Miyazaki creates, and how his stories tap into current debates around the climate crisis. Featuring Yuan Pan, lecturer on Environmental Management at the University of Reading, and environmental journalists and authors Isaac Yuen and Emma Marris.”
Imaginary Worlds Episode 223
It was a pleasure to be at a roundtable with such insightful minds and gleeful fans of Miyazaki’s work. I hope you enjoy listening to these exchanges as much as I did!
Cascadia stretches from Southeast Alaska to Northern California and from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide. Cascadia Field Guide: Art, Ecology, Poetry blends art and science to celebrate this diverse yet interconnected region through natural and cultural histories, poetry, and illustrations. Organized into 13 bioregions, the guide includes entries for everything from cryptobiotic soil and the western thatching ant to the giant Pacific octopus and Sitka spruce, as well as the likes of common raven, hoary marmot, Idaho giant salamander, snowberry, and 120 more!
My contribution comes in the form of a short essay on the Pacific geoduck, a large saltwater clam that inhabits the waters I grew up near. But the collection contains facts and verse on many more that inhabit the bioregion, from horsehair lichen and moon jellies to chum salmon and red alders.
Congratulations to editors Elizabeth Bradfield, CMarie Fuhrman, and Derek Sheffield for putting together what nature writer J. Drew Lanham calls “more than a collection”, and “an essential compendium to the Pacific Northwest; a ‘feel guide’ to an extraordinary place.”
This piece shines a light on creatures that have taken seemingly inexplicable turns in their evolutionary histories, highlighting the fact that evolution acts without a final goal or end design in mind. Why did some birds deliberately abandon flight? Why did disparate groups of mammals all adopt insect-only diets? Perhaps to realize one way of being in this world demands that you walk away from another…
“Sometimes things in life just don’t pan out, like if all you wanted to do growing up was to fly, but fate saw fit to furnish you with bad eyes and a dose of red-green color-blindness, the sum of which can disqualify you from becoming a pilot. Grounded by such shortcomings you may find yourself commiserating with the ratites, a motley clan of birds that includes the emu, the kiwi, and the cassowary, most of whom were born sans a keel bone to hang their aerial ambitions…“
You can read the full piece over at the “Stories and Ideas” section on the Center of Humans and Nature’s website, or later as part of my upcoming collection titled Utter, Earth, which is slated to come out in this fall. I hope you enjoy it!
One of my favourite perks about being part of this project is that going forward, I’ll get to nominate works I love for inclusion in future editions. Essays, short stories, poetry: Here’s some extra motivation to seek out some great ones in 2023!
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 being nigh impossible to capture or comprehend.…”
This is yet another piece I hope to include in my upcoming essay collection titled Utter, Earth, which will be published by West Virginia University Press in Fall of 2023. If you enjoy wordplay mixed with earthplay, I think you might enjoy this collection that I hope to infuse with delight and silliness. Stay tuned for more details!