All posts tagged: Fiction

Ekostories from the medium of fiction.

Omega Institute Rhinebeck

2018 Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop

Looking forward to attending the Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, this June 10-15: “The Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop is an annual week-long writing workshop for writers who want to improve their writing about nature and the environment. This workshop gives writers the unique opportunity to connect with Orion writers and editors in order to understand more deeply Orion‘s approach to the relationship between literature and the natural world. This program is for writers who want to learn how to write an Orion essay, short story, or poem; for writers who seek to become better advocates for the environment through their writing; for poets who are drawn to writing about nature and culture; 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.” As I’m trying my hand at fiction this time around, I’m excited to workshop pieces with Megan Mayhew Bergman, essayist for The Paris Review and author of the excellent short story collection Birds of …

Life Beyond Death and Fate: Le Guin’s Lavinia

“In our loss and fear we craved the acts of religion, the ceremonies that allow us to admit our helplessness, our dependence on the great forces we do not understand.” – Lavinia, p. 177 This piece is dedicated to Russell Collier, fellow Le Guin fan, dear colleague, guide, friend. In memoriam. Lavinia, a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, is many things: Historical fiction set in the Italian Bronze Age; a mythic fantasy derived from the last six books of Vergil’s Aeneid; an experiment in which the narrator is aware of her own fictionality; a postmodern tale where creation and creator come to learn and love one another. But above all, Lavinia is a haunting story crafted by a great storyteller. It is not my favourite of Le Guin’s works, but it is perhaps the most beautifully written. Her laconic prose brings to life a little known pre-Roman world, captures the lived essences of a semi-mythical people, and offers voice to one neglected, to tell the tale of her life and beyond.

The Wind in the Willows as Eco Story, by Nancy Adams

With my mind still lingering on toads after finishing the piece on Orwell’s essay several weeks ago, I was delighted to discover a fascinating post by Nancy Adams, a fellow wordpress blogger over at Saints and Trees, exploring The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s tale. A brief excerpt: “Toad in many ways is given more human attributes than the others, a fact that sets him apart—and seldom in a good way. In fact, I now wonder if Grahame’s rather satiric portrayal of Toad is meant as a comment on human foibles, particularly our fascination with technology, which we see all too often as a toy for our own gratification rather than a tool to benefit society at large…” The Wind in the Willows as Eco Story

Why We Tell Stories: The Science of Narrative

I was pleasantly surprised to come across a WordPress blog titled Why Story Matters by Mike Dimartino, co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender, a show I’ve written about previously on Ekostories. Discussing a video from the World Science Festival titled Why We Tell Stories: The Science of Narrative in one of his posts, Dimartino teases out some fascinating insights explored during the involved panel discussion. As Ekostories is focused on exploring the potential of stories to generate connections and environmental understanding, I would like to share his key takeaways and comment briefly on them.

Literature as a way of seeing

I came across an interesting post on how stories can help both the writer and the reader see the world in a different light: Literature as a way of seeing, by Helon Habila On art and seeing: “Art, and indeed life itself, is a way of seeing. There is looking at a thing, and then there is seeing a thing; the two are totally different. We look with our eyes, but it takes more than eyes to really see. This is a subject I find myself coming back to over and over again in my writing and in my thinking; and I find that, as a metaphor, it can be extended to most everyday situations. Oppression and poverty have always been with us, but how many among us can claim to have really seen the poor and the powerless, not just look at them, but truly see them?” The motivations of a writer: “The writer enlarges our sympathies by making us see ourselves better, but first he must see himself better in his own work. …

Rebecca Guay The Tombs of Atuan

Freedom’s Burden: The Tombs of Atuan

As a ten year old boy reading The Tombs of Atuan for the first time, I felt tremendously let down. On the surface, it appeared to have little to do with its predecessor. I was crestfallen to discover that Ged didn’t even appear until a third of the way into the story. Why was there such a focus on this girl I couldn’t relate to? Why would a great wizard – my powerful wizard – the one with whom I journeyed to the ends of the world, require help from someone with no apparent powers or magical ability? It was really all too much. I finished the story, shelved it away, and went on with the rest of my childhood. I grew up. I came back to the austere desert-scape of Atuan, revisited Tenar, and understood her a little better. I came to admire her, in some ways more than Ged. I also came to understand the significance of Ged’s role in Tenar’s story. Within the claustrophobic labyrinths, I learned the importance of identity, the …

Know Thyself: A Wizard of Earthsea

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.” – The Creation of Ea, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, p. 1 The books that profoundly shape one’s thinking don’t come along very often. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one at the age of ten. Randomly grabbed out of a crate of assorted novels for English reading class, A Wizard of Earthsea immediately drew me deep into its world of magic, adversity, and adventure. But unlike other young adult books that were read and subsequently forgotten, Wizard’s story stayed with me. The beautiful use of language and imagery, coupled with the mythic quality of the writing style, definitely didn’t hurt. But I think as a child of two cultures, I was most particularly attracted to the unique way in which Le Guin wove Eastern philosophy into her works of fantasy. Whatever its appeal was, I have reread Wizard of Earthsea and subsequent entries of the Earthsea series many …