I am pleased to say that this summer I'll be joining a flock of writers whose work variously engages with the “environment,” place, and ecology at the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference at the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College in Ripton, VT, from June 3-9.
I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on Earth Day this year by Marcus Smith for his radio show / podcast Thinking Aloud about Liberty Hyde Bailey and his book The Holy Earth, the centennial edition of which I edited this year in collaboration with Wendell Berry, who wrote the foreword. You can listen to the interview, which spans Bailey's personal story from childhood on the farm to founding Dean of the College of Agriculture at Cornell, as well as my personal story about how Bailey changed my life (and the way I look at apples, among other things), here.
On Tuesday, April 19, I was joined by professors Jim Tantillo and Scott Peters of Cornell to participate on a panel discussing the significance of Liberty Hyde Bailey's environmental manifesto, The Holy Earth, and the centennial edition which I edited.
This week I'll be visiting friends at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum to give a book talk about the recently released centennial edition of Bailey's environmental manifesto, The Holy Earth, which I edited and for which Wendell Berry contributed a foreword. You can join us on Saturday, January 9, at 12:00 noon at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, 922 S. Bailey Ave., South Haven, MI 49090.
Facebook event here. More info below.
A friend and inspiration of mine, Rachael Button, recently started up a new literary website seeking to publish works of poetry that respond to current events. The site is called This Week in Poetry. Her goal, she states, is "to fight apathy with poetry, by really focusing on understanding, empathizing with, and imagining my way into the news I hear on the radio or read on the internet," and her hope is "that other writers will want to do the same. That we can engage in poetic conversation about local, national, and international stories."
On October 15, 2015, a group of seven descended upon the Graduate Reading Room of the English Department at New York University. They came with print-outs, local beer and whiskey, and apples from an NYC Greenmarket. They were all graduate students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in English. They were there to talk about farming... and texts.
On the occasion of having recently sent the complete manuscript to the publisher, I want to announce here on my website what has already been public news for some time -- in December of this year, Counterpoint Press will be publishing a Centennial Edition, under my editorship, of Liberty Hyde Bailey's agrarian manifesto The Holy Earth, featuring a new introduction by Wendell Berry and new editorial content. You can preorder through the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum here.
Later this week, at the annual AWP (Association for Writers and Poets) Conference, I'll share the mic with a gaggle of inspiring Midwestern writers, all of them fellow contributors to the anthology Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland (which you can read more about in a previous blog post). I also hear that the book's editors (great people!) will be there, and I'm sure copies will be for sale. Should be a grand time. I look forward to dropping some whimsical f-bombs back in the state where the whole saga began.
Here's the skinny:
This article was first published as an installment on the Valparaiso University English Department's new blog, "How I Got My Job," which features articles by alumni of the English Department describing their job experiences after graduation to current undergraduate students. You can see the original post here.
Catch that Grace
"How I Got My Job": Regional Museum Director
I don’t think college equals job prep. But, college friends, if you’re going to agree with me on that point, you’ll also need to strap on your practical cap when it comes to making a living. Important tools, as far as I can tell: creativity, drive, frugality, pragmatism—and probably a sense of receptiveness to the crazy twists of grace.
Earlier this year, Iowa's own Ice Cube Press published an anthology that gathered together previously unpublished prose and poetry dealing in a wide variety of ways with that strange, vast expanse of plains and lake country known collectively as the American Midwest. The fearless editors of the collection, Lance M. Sacknoff, Xavier Cavazos, and Stefanie Brook Trout, have called it Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, and it features the work of many emerging writers variously connected to the Midwest, including an essay of mine, and the book's three sections are introduced by three of my literary heros: Dean Bakopoulos, Debra Marquart, and Mary Swander. Since I contributed one of the collection's essays, you can actually order a signed copy from me at a 10% discount, and I'll be joining some of the other contributors for a reading in St. Paul, MN during AWP 2015. More on all that below.
But what is this "prairie gold"? Well, the way the term is traditionally used, it's -- corn. These days, at least in states like Iowa, it's mostly corn that is inedible to humans in its raw state, sold mainly for the purposes of cheaply feeding livestock or being reconstituted into high fructose corn syrup and other popular artificial sweeteners. It's a pretty controversial crop, to say the least. Contrary to what you may have heard if you are not a native of the region yourself, much of the Midwestern landscape is far from the idyllic, reassuring images that our culture likes to paint for us. But, for that matter, much of it does not look like Iowa, either.