All posts tagged: Imagination

Content exploring the role and significance of imagination.

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. …

marcovaldo-artwork

Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo: Seasons in the City

Bedridden with the flu on a recent writing retreat, I had resigned myself to focus on recovery rather than to get any writing done. I had not expected, between the coughing fits and the fever chills, to find new inspiration from a familiar source. But there it was, sitting eye-level on the third shelf of a corner bookcase at a stranger’s vacation rental, all 128 pages of glory: Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo, translated by William Weaver. My experience with Calvino is uneven. On more than one occasion, my awe of the Italian author’s way with words outpaced my ability to keep up with the quickness of his intellect. I gave up halfway through The Castle of Crossed Destinies because my mind could no longer hold the labyrinth of interconnected narratives together, and while I admired and strove to emulate the stylings of his Cosmicomics, many of those journeys across time, space, and imagination remains beyond my comprehension. Yet when Calvino’s work connects, he leaves an impression upon me unlike any other author. Even as I have professed …

mahogany-clam

Mind of a Clam: Driftfish, A Marine Life Anthology

In light of International Remembrance Day for Lost Species, I’m proud to be a contributor of Driftfish, a new marine life themed anthology put out by Zoomorphic, a UK magazine and micropublisher dedicated to writing that deepens our connection with wildlife and the more-than-human world: “From the hundreds of submissions that we were privileged to read from poets and prose writers from all over the world, we have curated an anthology that we hope reflects Zoomorphic’s core principle: to defend non-human species, we must reconnect our imaginations to them.” – co-editors James Roberts and Susan Richardson My short story, titled “Mind of a Clam”, is inspired by Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, in which the late and great fabulist takes a germ of science and spins a tale around it, and by Roderick Sloan, a seafood supplier and diver from Norway who was featured in one of my favourite shows called Mind of a Chef – from which this story took its name. An excerpt: “…The entrée won’t be coming for a while, so we have time. Time. Putting up the …

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.

Hong Kong Cityscape

Place and Memory: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

I’m not sure how to describe Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It isn’t traditional fiction on a structural level, having no story arc or a defined ending. Nor is it conventional fantasy, doing away with the worlds it creates almost as soon as it forms them. Even the broadest definitions of historical fiction and magical realism don’t quite fit, as Calvino blends real and imagined details into a concoction of seemingly irreverent tales. Invisible Cities is a travelogue to places that do not exist. It is a work that brushes aside conventions of form and narrative to ruminate on ideas of memory and place, touching on everything from trajectory of civilizations to the limits of communication. At times delightfully whimsical and intensely melancholic, Invisible Cities is a testament to the power of an author at the height of his powers to provoke, enthrall, and connect.

Silver Fox with Crows by Ellen Jewett

Animal Sculptures by Ellen Jewett

I’ve recently been taking pottery classes at the local community centre. Recalling fond memories of lessons growing up, I went into the first session brimming with enthusiasm, confident that I would be spinning out pots and vases and plates in no time. No such luck. I soon discovered I had no aptitude for the wheel. Class after class, clay balls wobbled off centre and flung apart, overzealous hands warped promising cylinders, and palms grew raw trying to coax shapes out of an alien medium. No muse or intuition came to me, and I realized I had a lot to learn. After grappling with futility, I decided to take a break from the wheel to work with the clay by hand.  Something clicked, and frustration gave way to the freedom of unfettered play. I found myself making figurines of flora and fauna as I did when I was a kid, back when clay gave my restless hands something solid to work on. From failed pots emerged mushroom landscapes populated by miniature elephants. Coils grew into dolphins …

Funky Asian acorns Lithocarpus

Funky Asian Acorns: Schema’s Seeds and Leaves

Recent shifts in thinking and a trip back to Hong Kong caused me to reflect upon the past and my roots as a 1.5 generation Chinese-Canadian. Drawing upon life and circumstance for inspiration, I spent my time away from blogging to work on a piece of bicultural creative non-fiction. I am delighted to announce that the finished work has been accepted by a sustainability-themed issue of Schema Magazine, an online publication “for the interculturally-minded”. Seeds and Leaves began as a seed (ha!) sparked by a call for essays that featured a plant or tree as the main character; it has since grown to become an account of a botanical illustration class I took last fall. I hope you enjoy this short tale about a brief encounter of two immigrants, one human, one not, and I welcome your thoughts on this personal Ekostory that attempts to weave together ideas of nature, culture, and identity. Read the story here