All posts tagged: WPLongform

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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 …

Wild Ideas Soyeon Kim Solutions

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking

From the creators of You are Stardust comes Wild Ideas, the latest picture book by environmental educator Dr. Elin Kelsey and mixed-media artist Soyeon Kim. Smaller in scope but more personal than Stardust, Wild Ideas employs a blend of language, art, and science to highlight humanity’s kinship with the animal world while showcasing nature as an inspirational force.

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.

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 …

Look Up: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Wind, Sand and Stars

Unlike millions around the world, my first encounter with the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry did not involve La Petit Prince; I am ashamed to admit that I have not yet read his most famous work. What I have read, and what continues to stay with me, was the man’s memoir and the inspiration for what is arguably one of the most beloved children’s stories in history. Winner of the National Book Award and hailed by National Geographic as one of the Top Ten adventure books of all time, Wind, Sand and Stars (an English translation by Lewis Galantière of Terre des Hommes, or “Land of Men”) is a work I return to when I grow weary or unsure of life. In the brief tome I am lifted by the soaring spirit of a writer at the height of his craft, by a pioneer of an age past who saw a vaster picture and dared to ask the great questions. Within its pages, I find a soul who believed wholeheartedly in human potential, a man open to the simple joys …

Mother 3 Sunflower fields

MOTHER 3, A Literary Video Game

MOTHER 3 tells a story most would not expect a videogame to tell. Written by Shigesato Itoi, an essayist, slogan maker, copyeditor, voice actor, famed blogger, short fiction collaborator (with Haruki Murakami), Iron Chef judge and fishing fan, MOTHER 3 is a deeply intimate tale that engages on both an intellectual and emotional level. Games journalist and developer Tim Rogers believes that it represents the closest a videogame has yet come to modern literature. For me, MOTHER 3 is art.

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 …