All posts tagged: nature culture

Content that explores the relationship between nature and culture.

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. …

Big Blue

Our Museum of the Future – Shenandoah

Humbled and honoured to contribute a short story to the latest issue of Shenandoah Literary Magazine. I had the good fortune of working on “Our Museum of the Future” with editor Beth Staples, whose new vision for the venerable publication is one I find compelling: “…I consider it my job to privilege voices that don’t fit into that category, not just because it’s the right thing to do to counteract many years of established practice, but because reading is one of a very few ways we can jump into the mind of someone else.” The fundamental purpose of literature in Staples’ view is “to expand the reader’s sense of the world and their place in it. It should also be one of our goals for being alive: stepping into another person’s shoes and practicing radical empathy.” – Radical Rebirth, The Columns “Our Museum of the Future” grew out of the conceit that there exists a public space where words are showcased and curated in the same fashion as bones: “Welcome to a museum of words instead of bones. …

Cheung Chau Sunrise Orient

Lodestone, Tahoma Lit Review

Excited to have a flash nonfiction piece published in the latest issue of Tahoma Literary Review, a great journal produced with “the aim of contributing to and sustaining a healthy literary ecosystem.” A description of the themes explored in this volume: “The 25 selections in our Fall/Winter issue describe dreams and omens; bodies in motion; how we deal with fear and grief; what we inherit and what we pass on. The stories, essays, and poems range in time and geography from the drought-ridden Midwestern plains of the 1870s to present-day Cheung Chau, Hong Kong.”  “Lodestone” takes place in that latter location, on the isle of Cheung Chau off the shores of Hong Kong, and revolves around a narrator’s return to a homeplace only to discover he is not the only one who has been drawn back. The featured photo may help you situate in the space, as it did for me when I finally sat down to write this piece. I feel especially fortunate to be in the company of some fantastic authors in this issue; …

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 …

octoberama-charley-harper

Art, Animal, Essence: The Drawings of Charley Harper

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped drawing. I don’t mean the occasional doodles I do now; I mean before, when drawing was like daily bread, a childhood mainstay. I mean the classes, the contests, the urge to recreate images I saw in books, from movies, outside, everywhere. It was definitely before middle school, before that one time in English class where we had to speak about one of our hobbies and why it meant a lot to us. Being a teenager with no particular aspirations, I chose to pluck something from the past and spoke about drawing. I talked about how I would spend hours tracing and retracing, how time would dissolve while depicting a new world, the pride I would feel after finishing. After class, my best friend at the time pulled me aside. “I have never seen you draw. Like at all.” He was right. One day I stopped. I dropped the old ways and went on. But the memories were still there. The drawings, too. A few months ago while visiting …

Me and Gravity

Me and Gravity, Orion Magazine

Update: “Me and Gravity” has been selected as a “Notable” entry in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 Anthology. I am honoured to be a contributor in the latest double-issue of Orion, a fantastic magazine that explores ideas around nature, culture, and place. If that tagline sounds familiar to Ekostories, it’s because Orion was one of my chief inspirations for taking up the pen (keyboard?) years ago and remains one of the few publications I relish reading from beginning to end. I’m thrilled to have my short piece, “Me and Gravity”, included as the coda. But beyond the thrill of seeing the work in print, what I am most grateful for  – and it was something that came as a delightful surprise – is to be part of an issue that focused on diversity and perspectives, especially pertaining to the environmental movement. So here is my request: If you haven’t already, pick up this beautifully produced, completely ad-free publication and see what it’s about. But don’t do it because of my silly little story. Don’t even …

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 …