Classes start Monday and I am ready to go. Or, as ready as I am going to be. This fall, I am returning to the creative writing classroom. (I haven't taught creative writing in a few years) and of course, I will also be teaching some old favorites including Writing About Literature.
But I also have other plans for the fall. I have recently signed up for a nature writing class through the WOW (Women on Writing) organization. The class textbook is Writing About Nature by John A. Murray. Thumbing through the pages, I am reminded of all the great books about nature that I have read and loved, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams; Dakota by Kathleen Norris; Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard; and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.
Thinking about nature writing books reminds me of something I recently read in Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer. In many ways, this book, of course, is as far away from nonfiction nature writing as one might get, but one bit of information in the book made me think about my own reading. Vandermeer includes several authors in his book, and one author noted that when teaching speculative writing one semester she handed out a list of must read science fiction and/or fantasy books. The majority of the students had read very few of them.
Who would be on a "50 Must Read List" of Nature Writers? I would like to think that the books I mentioned above would be included. I also believe that books like Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (which I'm guilty of not reading -- it is sitting on my bookshelf staring at me as I type this post) would be on the list.
Still, what about other less known authors? One of my favorite books I have read in the past few years has been Deranged: Finding a Sense of Place in the Landscape and in the Lifespan by Jill Sisson Quinn. And I would love to see anything by Barbara Hurd on the list.
It's something to think about. Perhaps I should make my own "50 Must Read List" of nature books.
For now, if you want to learn more about how to involve the act of nature writing in your own life, consider enrolling in The Art of Nature Writing taught by the wonderful Melanie Faith (I took her class on flash creative nonfiction at the start of the summer -- it was wonderful!) The direct link for the WOW organization is here.
Perhaps this is the last summer hurrah before school starts! I will be reading this Thursday (August 14) at the Brick Walk Café (next to the bookstore) on the Chautauqua grounds. I will be joined by fiction writer Dave Northrup (author of The Memory of Broken Things) and memoirist Clara Silverstein (author of White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation). The event starts at 6:30 and is sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends.
Please stop by (if you are in the area) for a great hour of reading!
It's August, and that does mean that I have to at least start thinking about the new semester. Right now, that is all I have been doing is thinking about it. Oh, and I did pile all my new textbooks on my desk. That's about it.
As always, summer has gotten away from me. I didn't get all the writing projects done that I wanted to get done, but I wasn't a total slouch, either. The last few weeks or so, I have spent considerable time updating my Goodreads account. I found Goodreads a few years ago and then somehow I lost it (too caught up in all the social media, I suppose). Anyways, I have been copying and pasting all my reviews from my old blog on Goodreads in case I decide to take my old Wordpress blog down. This way, at least members can read my recommendations and reviews.
Speaking of reviews -- I have posted two new reviews under my Book Picks tab (these reviews have also been posted on GoodReads). The first review is a poetry book titled, Waiting at the Dead End Diner by Rebecca Schumejda. As I stated in my review, the world needs more waitress poems.
Here is my contribution: "She Likes to Work Graveyard" published in Fried Chicken and Coffee.
Finally, Followers and Friends of my blogs and website know that I have studied and presented numerous papers on Centralia, a town that slowly disappeared because of an underground coal fire. Centralia has taken on a mythical quality in pop culture and indeed makes an appearance in the work of poets Sherry Fairchok, Barbara Crooker and Karen Blomain. Two of my favorite novels, Coal Run by Tawni O'Dell and Those Who Favor Fire by Lauren Wolk, both feature Centralia-like settings.
But, there's a new book in town. Natalie S. Harnett has recently published a novel titled The Hollow Ground which is also inspired by Centralia. It's a fantastic read -- especially for anyone who likes coming-of-age stories or is interested in the Anthracite region of Pennsylvania.
Now, on to the remaining days of summer!
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.