All posts filed under: Personal

Personal stories that have elements of nature, culture, and self.

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: …

Clouds and Cornfield

All My Best Words Were Hers

My thanks to Entropy Magazine for publishing All My Best Words Were Hers, my essay exploring the legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin. Over the past several months, I’ve mourned her passing by reading every tribute I can find. Most touch upon her seminal works, on Earthsea and Omelas, on The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness. Yet few seem to speak to the wider breadth of her oeuvre, which ranged from critical essays and genre-defying short stories to translations of ancient texts and funny food recipes. Le Guin would be rankled at that, I think. This piece is intended to shine a light on her lesser known works, reorient her more famous pieces through my own lens, and showcase the woman behind and beyond the words. She would appreciate the gesture, I hope: “In the evening, my mom sends me a text: Are you ok? I saw one of her quotes @Twitter: ‘Go on and do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.’ Gensher, of Way. A biological parent, delivering advice from a literary …

BreadLoaf Conference Nametag

Thoughts on the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference

To say my time at the Bread Loaf Orion Writer’s conference was transformative is not quite right. The change I feel is more subdued, more covert, still unfurling after a week. It will take a lot longer to fully unpack, but I suspect that something new has taken root, and that things have been shaken loose. Perhaps this is how one feels after summoning the courage to start going down a new and uncertain road. Fitting then that this came about in the presence of Robert Frost’s cabin, in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Oak Tree from Wikimedia

Orion Bread Loaf Conference for Environmental Writers

Excited to be attending this year’s Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont from June 1-7. A bit about the conference: “The Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference is an annual week-long writers’ conference, based on the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference model, that’s designed to hone the skills of people interested in producing literary writing about the environment and the natural world. The conference is cosponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Orion magazine, and Middlebury College’s Environmental Studies Program.  … This week-long conference of workshops, classes, lectures, readings, and discussions is for writers who want to improve their writing about the environment; for writers who seek to become better advocates for the environment through their writing; for poets who are drawn to writing about the natural world; for teachers and scholars who wish to write for a more general readership; and for environmental professionals who want to bring better writing skills to bear on their work.” I’ll be part of the non-fiction workshop led by Craig Childs, author of …

Princess Mononoke Forest Island

The Nature of Hayao Miyazaki

I had wanted to write a piece on Hayao Miyazaki last year after the release of his semi-autobiographical film The Wind Rises, but I was preoccupied at the time and it slipped my mind. When I finally got around to it, the moment had passed. So much had already been written about the announcement of his retirement from films. I recalled feeling sad with a tinge of soft shock, similar to the many fans around the world who knew the day was inevitable but also believed that it would never come. My feelings were complex at the time, and I thought it best to let the matter rest, trusting things would come around when I would be better able to articulate the influence he has had on my life. Recently, I stumbled across an article in The Japan Times that sparked my interest in revisiting Miyazaki’s work. In the aptly named piece titled “A Deeper Look at Miyazaki’s Nature“, freelance writer Ian Martin provides a brief but rich synopsis on Princess Mononoke, 15 years since its …