All posts filed under: Non-fiction

Ekostories in narrative or creative non-fiction.

Emperor Penguins

On Pools and Penguins: Zoomorphic’s Brave Bird

Just in time to wrap up the year, I’m pleased to announce that my short meditation on emperor penguins is out in Zoomorphic: In Celebration and Defence of Wild Animals: “While doing laps at the pool one day, I came to the conclusion that the penguin is the most courageous and admirable of birds, because swimming is a meditative act, and a cleansed mind occasionally entertains notions of avian mettle. Not the eagle, I decided, which coasts by on piercing looks but is secretly not above scavenging, nor the owl, whose fame for foresight is wholly unearned, bested in wit by any parrot or common crow. No, I concluded as I flipped and pushed off into another length, it is the penguin I revere in all its awkward, earthbound glory…” The germ of the essay originated during a routine pool session back when I was still disciplined enough to go regularly; somehow movement, especially repetitive acts like walking or swimming, seems to help facilitate the flow of ideas. The piece also ends with a personal resolution …

6 Degrees of Interconnection

Six Degrees of Interconnection, Orion Magazine

I’m pleased to have another short essay, “6 Degrees of Interconnection”, published in the latest Orion. Despite the title of the piece, I promise it is 100% Kevin Bacon free. Here’s a description on the rest of the issue: “In this issue, Robin Wall Kimmerer explores how language can affirm our kinship with the natural world, and John Landretti considers where the line lies between what is real and what is perceived. Other features include Jeremy Miller on an ecological experiment to create a wilderness area, and Anjali Vaidya on what it means to adapt in a post-colonial world. Also: poetry by Sierra Golden, Kimiko Hahn, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and James Thomas Stevens; plus Simen Johan’s lush photographs of wild animals and Jesse Chehak’s photographs of luminous water and ice in the North and West Atlantic.” I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Bread Loaf Orion conference with Anjali Vaidya, so I’m naturally delighted to have my work featured alongside hers. Titled “Native or Invasive”, Vaidya’s essay navigates two tangled histories, one personal and …

Giant Steel Crab George Norris

What Matters, River Teeth Journal

Recently, I had the honour to contribute a short-short to “Beautiful Things”, the online section of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. River Teeth is one of the most well-known creative nonfiction publications around, and in my opinion has the most inspired name. On its origin: “…there are hard, cross-grained whorls of human experience that remain inexplicably lodged in us, long after the straight-grained narrative material that housed them has washed away. Most of these whorls are not stories, exactly: more often they’re self-contained images of shock or of inordinate empathy; moments of violence, uncaught dishonesty, tomfoolery; of mystical terror; lust; joy. These are our “river teeth”-the knots of experience that once tapped into our heartwood, and now defy the passing of time.” – David James Duncan On what “Beautiful Things” look like: “Glimpses, glimmers, meditations, moments, reflections, refractions, interrupted shadows, river shimmers, darkened mirrors, keyholes, kaleidoscopes, earring hoops, slabs of cracked granite, cracks where the light gets in. Beautiful things.” – River Teeth’s website I won’t spoil “What Matters” since it’s less than …

tennis-john-catbagan

Rhythm, Hippocampus Magazine

I’m pleased to have a flash piece published in the January issue of Hippocampus, an online magazine dedicated to entertain, educate, and engage writers and readers of creative nonfiction. Rhythm is a 750-word meditation on the “zone” one can attain while playing a sport or writing a story, along with the fleeting joy that ensues from tapping into the flow. There is a part towards the end where I compare this mode with what it might be like to be an animal, of being wholly present, fully embodied in the here and now, the beauty in that certainty of being: “… For one length, the twenty-second out of the thirty-four I would eventually complete, I was a seal, dark and torpid, and my arms were fins with which I used to shape the world. For one length, just one, I shed all meaning, instead was meaning, until nothing was left but presence, before strength failed and form broke, and I was human once again.” Read the Piece Here

Hawaiian Island Topography Large

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will

The first place I ever felt at home in was on an island. My grandparents lived on Cheung Chau, an island ten kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. Literally translated as “long isle”, Cheung Chau is shaped like a dumbbell, its two granite masses joined in the middle by a sandbar. As a child I spent weekends and summers there fishing and swimming, and even now the scent of saltspray and sewage sends me back to that grimy old fishing village. This fondness for islands stayed and deepened. When I moved to Canada and started to read English I found myself drawn to Earthsea, the fantasy archipelago world of Ursula K. Le Guin. On each of her conjured isles laid not only magic and adventure, but moods intrinsic to and defined by geography. I connected to Astowell, last land before the open sea; Gont and its snow-capped peak rising up like a sharp spire; Osskil, raven realm, icebound and alien. Many times I have sailed in my mind to the shores of Selidor at the westernmost edge of the world, that …

Great Horsetail_Luc_Viatour

More Than Ferns: Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal

When I finished the preface to Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal and found that the late neurologist and author shared my love for natural history travelogues, I knew I was in for a treat. What I was not expecting to discover was a potential new writing muse and a possible kindred spirit. If you harbour no interest for ferns, travel writing, or Oliver Sacks as a person, this slim tome may not be for you. Luckily, I’m fascinated by all of three elements, and so found Oaxaca Journal an Ekostory well worth exploring.

Elephant eye up close

Bearing Witness: The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs

It began with pronghorns. Growing up obsessed with creature comparisons, the main allure of the antelope was its cheetah-esque speed, evolved to evade the North American version of that predatory cat long extinct. I was tickled by the idea that the pronghorn outran its ghost and thus forever evaded its own doom. In these later years and slower-paced days, other commendable qualities came to the fore: Those long-lashed doe eyes; that sly, set hint of a smile; the pair of ebony horns sheathed in keratin which shed like antlers; the tinge of melancholy derived from knowing that it is the sole survivor of its family, the last remnant of kin. It was a fortuitous flip to the essay on pronghorns that persuaded me to pick up Craig Childs’ The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. In each intimately wrought tale on antelopes, hawks, and red-spotted toads, I found a writer and translator more versed in the tongues of the non-human world than I will ever be. Childs honors the weight and magnitude of his …