9th Annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness & the Environmental Imagination
THE FUTURE OF WATER: A series of invited lectures, creative readings, interdisciplinary panel discussions, book signings, receptions, and a documentary film about the secret life and turbulent future of the world’s fresh and salt water supplies.
Friday, March 29
Memorial Union, Pioneer Room — All Day
Can you light your water on fire? The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudia Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called Gasland. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.
Elizabeth Bradfield's award-winning poetry collection, Approaching Ice, portrays the gripping history of polar exploration by channeling its most notable figures—Symmes, Mawson, Scott, Cherry-Garrard, Byrd, and Shackleton among them. From their perspectives and her own, Elizabeth Bradfield relays the wonders and dangers, physical and mental, encountered while endeavoring to reach the earth's least-hospitable regions.
Elizabeth Bradfield is a poet and naturalist. She is the author of two poetry collections: Interpretive Work and Approaching Ice, the second of which is a poetic investigation of polar exploration and was a finalist for the Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Orion, The Believer and many anthologies. As a naturalist, Bradfield considers herself an "aspiring generalist." She works on expedition ships and tries to help deepen people’s experience of place by both in-field interpretation and formal presentations. At home, on Cape Cod, she does field research on marine mammals. Bradfield is founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press (and current poet-in-residence at Brandeis University.
Join us for a reading of the "Home Voices" Award Winners from Flyway: A Journal of Writing & Environment. The winning pieces were selected by contest judge, Michael Martone, author of Four for a Quarter.
Poets Elizabeth Bradfield and Sherwin Bitsui will discuss the political implications as well as the ethics and responsibilities of exploration and resource management in a postcolonial world. Who wins, who loses, who profits?
Moderator: Geetha Iyer was born in India, grew up in the United Arab Emirates, and moved to the United States to study biology. She has since become an MFA student at Iowa State University's Creative Writing & Environment program. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry with a bent toward place-based and science writing. Her first publication is the recipient of a Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction.
Refreshments & Good Conversation
Sherwin Bitsui's second book of poems, Flood Song,
interweaves allusions to the Native American myths and customs Bitsui
was raised with and searing, felt observations of contemporary urban
life. Bitsui floods his work with streams of observations of the real
and the imagined, through descriptions of the seen and surreal
metaphor.Native traditions scrape against contemporary urban life in Flood
Song, an interweaving painterly sequence populated with wrens and reeds,
bricks and gasoline. Poet Sherwin Bitsui is at the forefront of a new
generation of Native writers who resist being identified solely by race. At the
same time, he comes from a traditional indigenous family and Flood Song
is filled with allusions to Dine (Navajo) myths, customs, and traditions. Highly
imagistic and constantly in motion, his poems draw variously upon medicine song
and contemporary language and poetics. “I map a shrinking map,” he writes, and
I "bite my eyes shut between these songs.”
Deep Blue Home is a penetrating exploration of the ocean as single vast current, the watery force connected to the earth’s climate control and so to the eventual fate of the human race. Whitty’s thirty-year career as a documentary filmmaker and diver has given her sustained access to the scientists dedicated to the study of an astonishing range of ocean life, from the physiology of “extremophile” life forms to the strategies of nesting seabirds to the ecology of “whale falls” (what happens upon the death of a behemoth). No stranger to extreme adventure, Whitty travels the oceanside and underwater world from the Sea of Cortez to Newfoundland to the Galapagos to Antarctica. This book provides extraordinary armchair entree to gripping adventure, cutting-edge science, and an intimate understanding of our deep blue home.