On Activism & Cement Eclipses

©Isaac Cordal

Taylor Brorby

On Activism


Activism, for better or worse, seems to be the buzzword of our time. Climate change, gender issues, political policy, GMOs, education—all are laced with an element of activism. As I sit at my desk, scratch words across the page, or type letters on a computer screen, I spend more time thinking about what it means to be an activist writer in the 21st century.
My own work revolves around hydraulic fracturing and energy. At this time we, as writers, face some of the most pressing matters in humanity’s history–increasing acidification of oceans, transgender issues, economic wage disparities, women’s reproductive rights,  topsoil erosion. The list can, and probably should, go on and on. In my own work, in my desire to speak from a sense of place, peppered with an element of longing, fury, and hope,

I wonder where writers can best serve to help shift the conversation.
Many of us know the work of prominent activists–Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickled and Dimed, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—because their work is crucial in understanding not only the world we have left behind but also the world we live in. Without writers, we wouldn’t be able to see the pitfalls and foibles of our own actions.
In his 1996 book, The Book of Yaak—a lengthy defense of the Yaak Valley in northwest Montana—Rick Bass says, “Sometimes panic would spike up deep within me—electrical charges of fear registering off the scale—and I would want to abandon all art and spend all my time in advocacy. I still believed in art, but art seemed utterly

extravagant in the face of what was happening. If your home were burning, for instance, would you grab a bucket of water to pour on it, or would you step back and write a poem about it?” You, too, might often feel this when snapping open the newspaper or turning on your computer monitor.
Most days I feel the duality that Bass describes, scratching my head and scribbling in my notepad, wondering how best to convey the degradation of my most sacred place: the Badlands of western North Dakota. Over the past eight years of the Bakken oil boom,  the number of reported oil, saltwater, and chemical spills has topped 10,000; housing prices have skyrocketed; the drug trade continues to spread; sex trafficking runs rampant on the prairie; flares roar across the horizon. How do I put pen to paper to speak out against these horrible acts? Maybe the question is this: How do I speak out on behalf of everything I love?


Some days I spend time in bed,done-in by the magnitude of my self-perceived responsibility in writing about this matter, of trying to convey the beauty inherent in native prairie grasses—switchgrass , Indiangrass, or blue gamma—or the long-term shifting of silt, carrying the ancient dust of the Rocky Mountains, settling and forming the striated buttes and bluffs of western North Dakota. Even flora and fauna that I avoid, such as prickly pear cactus or the rattle of the venomous prairie rattlesnake, sneak into my prose. I feel this so deeply because it seems that amid the growing oil boom everything I love is withering and disappearing from my home.
But still I wonder where this writing can rest in our consciousness. So much of our world is divided between liberals and conservatives—


pro -choice and pro-life, large government and small government advocates, organic and GMO food. Where is the conversation that allows us to live in the muck of everyday life?
Activist writing too often lives in the political language of our day. Advocates with a pen create phrases that isolate and reprimand, forcing the reader to easily close the book, never reading another word. This should be recognized as a failure on our parts as writers. As Annie Dillard says, “We should mass half-dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.”
I try to wake up my neighbors by writing letters-to-the-editor, perhaps our last hope for a democratic state; I travel around the country, speaking at colleges and universities about the perils and pitfalls of fracking; and I 

join  activist organizations that promote a different economic system and way of being in the world. Much of this, though, feels hollow, repetitive, and, well, not very fun.
In her essay, “Winter Solstice at Moab Slough,” Terry Tempest Williams says, “I think of my own stream of desires, how cautious I have become with love. It is a vulnerable enterprise to feel deeply and I may not survive my affections…If I chose not to become attached to nouns–a person, place, or thing—then…when a known landscape is bought, sold, and developed, chained or grazed to a stubble…my heart cannot be broken because I never risked giving it away.” Perhaps that is what I am arguing for in a type of new activist writing—a sense of love.
For many of us, writers included, there is a responsibility to render in words the passions of our daily lives.

We pick the world up like a water-worn stone, turn it over, hold it up to the light, examine it from multiple perspectives, and then ask: How shall I describe this? I believe this is how many activist writers feel as well, only their words can feel entrenched, harsh, and grating. I want a writing that is fresh, is filled with zest and gusto;  a writing that runs towards its subject, rips open the curtains, and lets the sun shine in. Writing should snap open our eyes, crack open our brains to new perspectives. Activist writing should not so much tell us what to think or feel but instead activate our own inner sense of emotions, energize our own ability to be and do good for the world.
In a beautiful essay called “Doing Good Work Together,” William Kittredge writes, “We live in stories. What we are is stories. We do things

 because of what is called character, and our character is formed by the stories we learn to live in. Late in the night we listen to our own breathing in the dark and rework our stories. We do it again the next morning, and all day long, before the looking glass of ourselves, reinventing reasons for our lives. Other than such storytelling there is no reason to things.”
But the story in the wider culture has fallen stale, allowing us to live in a world of particularity—we can choose to only listen to Glenn Beck and Fox News or we can sequester ourselves to The Huffington Post and Derrick Jensen. Activist writers recognize that we largely live in stories that are unworkable. We structure and build our lives around stories that threaten the lives of not only other human beings but also the other creatures of this planet; we export jobs we’d rather not do here to countries that pay lower  

worker wages and relax regulations; we help perpetuate a system that pushes piggish politics by depleting forests, rivers, and oceans. We simply haven’t found a story that allows us to be good.
The root meaning of the word activist comes from the Latin word actus, which means “a doing, a driving force, or an impulse.” Herman Melville knew something about finding the driving force in writing: “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”
So in the 21st century I would like to propose that we reexamine what it means to be an activist, what it means to find a doing or maybe better yet, an obsession. Something where we, as writers, can apprentice ourselves, fingering our ways through the nooks and crannies of our minds, lunging towards phrases that create a patchwork of meaning for the reader  

and writer. Now perhaps more than ever Wordsworth’s words clang true: The world is too much with us.  And now seems the perfect time to sit, pen in hand, scrawling sentences that have the staying power like Muir’s, Shakespeare’s, Woolf’s, or Emerson’s—sentences that help reactivate our own reasons for writing in a world that seems to be more constricted by corporate greed, individual malaise, 

and political apathy. After all, in the busyness of daily lives, we need  a voice that slips in sideways and reminds us that stories are the bedrock of our minds and foundation to our beings.
As writers, we have a certain responsibility to put out the fire that burns our house. But after sorting and  
sifting through the charred remains, there is still the opportunity for expression, the opportunity to build with adjectives and verbs and nouns a sense of meaning and being in the world. Only after staring at the blank page day after day do we start to dig and find the gift that resides in every bit of verse and prose: The ability to change the way we see.


Isaac Cordal

Cement Eclipses



Taylor Brorby is an award-winning essayist, and poet. His chapbook of poems, Ruin: Elegies from the Bakken is through Red Bird Chapbooks and his forthcoming anthology on fracking, Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America is through Ice Cube Press. He is the Reviews Editor for Orion Magazine.

Isaac Cordal is an installation artist whose project Cement Eclipses tackles issues of social importance. These tiny sculptures of people staged in various dire contexts provide thought and raise questions about what it means to be human today. The selected images were completed as part of a residency at The Arts Student League of New York in November 2015.

Ten Minutes in Balasana & Coastal Presence

Jesse Curran

Ten Minutes in Balasana

I came to hatha yoga to deal with stress and low self-esteem. I can be very sensitive, non-confrontational, and have a propensity toward vulnerability. I don’t like being the center of attention or being watched and I suffer from a negative ego. My own worst critic, I came to yoga to take care of me.

Humility, patience, sincerity,

I came to yoga because my dissertation director reminded me to remind myself that I was tall. My dissertation director is a poet. He taught me to read even the most figurative poetry literally. I took that word at face value. Tall. I needed to stop hunching forward and drawing inward. I needed to stand upright and draw the shoulder blades together. To lift my chest like a proud bird. I needed tadasana.

nonviolence, uprightness, purity,

I found a teacher I trusted. I find her beautiful. Her parents are Turkish and she was born in Germany. She is trilingual and her accent soothes me as she guides the class through the poses.From the first class, I felt safe in her foreignness and at home in her compassionate intelligence and disciplined intensity. I later learned that she was raised with Rumi. His teachings and poetry guided her family’s spiritual compass. I never felt judged in her presence. She is among my deepest reasons for gratitude.

devotion to one’s spiritual teacher,

I trust teachers who help their students feel grounded enough to take risks. I gravitate to teachers who do not criticize so much as take seriously the student’s intention to learn. An intention to learn is one of my strongest qualities.

constancy, self-control,

Yoga asana works viscerally. It works before language or conscious awareness. It works with organs and the in the muscle fibers. Internal, intuitive, integrative, integral. It starts at the level of the cells. It hovers between slowness and stillness. A cessation of speed. A quiet holding. Restoring, remaining, reminding.

freedom from the I-sense, insight

A point of fascination: this coming from body into mind. The literal into the metaphorical. An ongoing exploration into the subtle and interconnected layers of experience. A point of great mystery. Mystery accessed only through breath. Spiritus. The biological enmeshment of spirit.

into the evils of birth,

It gives intellectually. A teaching philosophy grounded in a beginner’s mind being ready to begin. A theory of poetry based on the breath. A sense of beauty that cradles the paradox of strength and surrender. A metaphysics that seeks to yoke the fragments born of fear.

sickness, old age, and death,

What I did not expect it to give me is the ability to consume less. To become less of a consumer. That it would offer a personal intervention into the pressing issues of sustainability. Instead, a producer of contentment. A receiver of rest. A professor of poetry. A teacher of tadasana.

detachment, absence of clinging

One’s relationship to hunger changes. Hunger. Literal. Figural. On one hand, the hunger easily mediated by banana or handful of nuts. On the other, the hunger of insatiable discontentment. The hunger of grasping. Both become tempered. Both are occurrences of body and mind that arise and fall away.

to son, wife, family, and home,

And so, needing less. And when needing, knowing what is needed. An apple. Chick peas and olive oil. Brown rice with vegetables. A pint of ice cream can last for two weeks. Just one or two spoons each evening. To be content with a glass of water. To be content.

an unshakeable equanimity

Hunger is no longer hunger. Appetite is no longer appetite. The letting go spirals: to shopping, to planning, to keeping busy. To bargain hunting and searching for fashion. Desire softens into washable cotton, wearing things into the fading and fraying.

in good fortune or in bad,

To be happy staying at home, waiting for the afternoon sun to enter into the break in the canopy of maples that shade the modest apartment. Less need, less worry. A permission to slow down. The world is only opening.

an unwavering devotion to me

Reexamining productivity. Adrift for too long in the suburban crucible of business and beauty. A world of running marathons and radical diets. How counterintuitive restorative yoga practice seems in a culture that is always working to burn calories. Ten minutes a day in child’s pose might do the same work. Hunger is no longer hunger.

above all things, an intense

Ten minutes in balasana.

love of solitude, distaste

Maybe these things happen to all people as they age. The frantic pace of youth cannot endure. Sneakers replace stilettos. Sweatpants replace fitted jeans. Maybe not. Maybe these choices come naturally to some. They didn’t so much for me. I saw enough television growing up to have been deeply affected. I felt enough competition and was exposed to enough images of manicured beauty. I felt impossibly adrift, and often ugly, amidst a reality that could never sustain me. I grew up on Long Island in the shadow of the world’s most photographed city. A city proud of itself for not sleeping.

for involvement in worldly affairs,

Excellent at putting pressure on myself to maintain excellence. A straight-A student. A winner of awards. Phi Beta Kappa. Summa cum laude. Looking like a Christmas tree on graduation, adorned with a dozen tassels. During graduate school, winning the big prizes in teaching and writing. An ongoing involvement in worldly affairs.

persistence in knowing the Self

Addicted to pleasing others. Addicted to being taken seriously. Addicted to validation. Addicted to recognition. Addicted to excellence.

and an awareness of the goal of knowing—

And now, ten minutes in balasana.

all this is called true knowledge;

Thank Shanti and Shiva for poetry and Italy. For the hippies and a plain natural beauty. Thank Whitman for the aroma of armpits and the body being part of the earth. Thank yoga asana for hunger no longer being hunger.

what differs from it is called ignorance.

The greatest terrors of the Anthropocene echo and manifest in the fears and cravings of my own mind. They are perpetuated by each and every action. The psychological dimensions of sustainability are just opening up. The old questions and values are surfacing again. It’s time for less consuming, to shed the old ignorance. It’s time to save and store energy. It’s time to accept responsibility.

I will teach you what should be known;

It’s time for the wisdom of the Tao and of the Gita. It’s time for a turning. Time to switch the televisions off and to let the smart phones break and remain broken. It’s time to turn away from the media and market. Sing songs for mindfulness and a revival of therapeutic philosophy.

knowing it, you are immortal;

And so, some more time in child’s pose. Legs up against the wall. A backbend as a reminder of release and a headstand to flood the anxious edge with warmth. I’ve learned I can have these things just about anywhere and they don’t have a carbon footprint. Balasana. As much child’s pose as I want. No one is stopping me. It’s here. It’s right now. The supreme reality—right here—within me.

It is the supreme reality,

A craving is no longer a craving. Rather, a resting. A breathing. The conservation

which transcends both being and nonbeing.1

of energy.


1 The italicized passage comes from Chapter 13 of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of The Bhagavad Gita (New York:Harmony Books, 2002).



Jesse Curran holds a PhD in English from Stony Brook University and is an educator, gardener, and yoga instructor. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous journals including, The Emily Dickinson Journal, The Journal of Sustainability Education, Green Humanities, Blueline, The Fourth River, About Place Journal, Lime Hawk, Spillway, and The Common Ground Review.

Rachel Eastman is a native of Maine, graduating with honors from Maine College of Art, where she worked with Johnnie Winona Ross, Ed Douglas, and Honour Mack. She later attended Vermont Studio Center, working with Wolf Kahn and Lois Dodd, as well as conducting independent studies in Paris, London, and The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. In recent years, Eastman’s interest in Eastern Philosophy,and Romanticism have begun to merge with perennial influences Joseph Mallord William Turner, Frederic Church, and Mark Rothko as her passion for color and light meet the Maine coastline. Currently maintaining studios from the ocean’s edge in Biddeford, Maine,and from the majestic vista views of Evan’s Notch Chatham, in New Hampshire.

Featured Artist: Kenny Cole’s Flood

Kenny Cole


Flood 26

Flood 036, 2014

Flood was generated, for me, through a random Yahoo News item that caught my attention. The article was about the vanishing Moken Sea Nomads of Thailand/Myanmar. Every once in a while I’ll read most or all of a comment stream. I love their often wild and woolly nature, have transcribed some into past drawings and after reading this article I felt ready to try it again. The comments that followed this particular article ended up being around 30,000 words. I transcribed, or painted these comments on to 7” x 8.5” drawing paper using gouache, an opaque watercolor medium.  It was important that I considered these transcriptions as works of art, thus I “painted” them and the compositional space of the picture plane or rectangle took precedence over the proper rules for ending sentences, words or shaping paragraphs. I ran the text right to the edge of the drawing paper even if it cut into a word in an unreadable way. Following these rules, the full text of the 30,000-word comment stream led me to create a total 320 drawings. Additionally I circled out, within this text the story of Noah’s Ark, as written in the bible, through the story of the Tower of Babel, on through to the beginning of the story of Abraham. “Flood” was exhibited in its complete form at BUOY in Kittery, Maine From July 10 through September 5, 2015.

(The following is an excerpt from an interview published in 2014 Artvoices Magazine 7th Annual Winter Basel issue.)

Ellen Caldwell: In your recent series “Flood,” you juxtapose Internet commentary following an article about the alleged decline of the nomadic Moken people of Myanmar with biblical verses about Noah’s epic. These seemingly chance parallels of texts end up aligning quite beautifully and tragically in exploring the current state of both our environmental and personal communicative degradation. Highlighting the comment section of our media is so interesting to me, because I think we often see a real break down of humanity there. Could you speak to this a bit?

Kenny Cole: But, despite this I also see a genuine struggle to find truth. We are all uninformed about something, or we all hold our own set of false ideas or myths that we might not recognize or acknowledge. We may know a lot about some things but no one knows everything about everything. An astrophysicist may not know how to lay a hardwood floor for example, so he probably has no business even discussing how it’s done, though he might add an interesting insight.

As far as the world’s problems go, I think that we really need all the help we can get and I guess I am willing to sift through a wild and wooly online comment stream to tease out truths. People say dumb things, but if we really listen there is usually a “truth” in there somewhere. We tend to have our own beliefs and raise a defense when we feel that our beliefs are challenged, so that’s probably the “degradation” part of this thing we call humanity.

As far as being an artist and approaching the world’s problems through an aesthetic process, which in this case is the drawing of a comment stream, I find myself reading and re-reading this text in order to transcribe it. This gives me a deeper insight into what is being said. I hear rhythms, see patterns, make connections with the ancient ideas, symbols and archetypes of the biblical themes. It’s a far cry from the modern phenomenon of constantly being interrupted with communication that can barely be processed. I like the idea of freezing this snippet of modern communication into a work of art.

 “The effect of the work, whether one reads its contents or not, is of an analogue for the digital onslaught that our devices connect us to on a daily basis (the gallery is also littered with wood, dummy smart phones). It is a common trope to say we are bombarded by images but we are also flooded with an unstoppable stream of words, adding to the existing oceans of writing we will never have time to explore. Do we actually read the text of the Bible and attempt to make first hand sense of this mysterious document, at the creative center of Western Culture, or do we float along on the 30,000 word comment stream, of half formed thoughts tossed off in a rage by amateur thinkers, relating to an article we will soon forget. I suspect most of us will choose the latter, and I often do.” – (2015 Seasick Magazine / Hurricane season issue “Flood” review by Narciso Philistratus)

Ellen Caldwell: How do you see the virtual and digital world impacting our engagement with the everyday and ephemeral?

Kenny Cole: Well, although I do not quite consider myself a painter, I see myself as trying to save painting! Painting has died many times before, but it has a very strange persistence. It has permanence and speaks a great deal to our condition as animals that build endless and varied structures, for habitation and shelter. There are 10 gazillion walls in the world that we have created and each one begs to hold some kind of message or vision that can speak to us or transform the space it’s in. This is just a phenomenon of our existence.

The digital world exists near this, but functions away and outside of our physical structures. It’s incredibly seductive and addictive, but I feel that it also has an emptiness and limitation in terms of satisfying our need for feeling human. Painting can address our need to feel human nicely … Something like painting is a form that can capture things and hold them before us to see if we want to think about them for a longer while.


Flood 037

Flood 037, 2014

Flood 038

Flood 038, 2014

Flood 039

Flood 039, 2014

Flood 040

Flood 040, 2014


After winning a Charles Burchfield scholarship in 1976, Kenny Cole studied drawing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, earning a B.F.A. in 1981. Upon graduation he was confronted with a burgeoning neo-expressionist art scene in New York City’s East Village, thus his work adopted an edgy, graphic, second-wave graffiti-like sensibility. He joined the planning committee of City Without Walls Gallery in 1983 and exhibited extensively in alternative spaces in and around New York City until moving to Maine in 1994. Here he has continued to exhibit in alternative spaces, has helped organize political art actions with the Union of Maine Visual Artists and served for 10 years on the board of directors at Waterfall Arts in Belfast. Cole was awarded the 2012 Spring Monhegan Island Artists Residency and exhibited an interactive solo installation at the University of Maine Museum of Art’s Zillman Gallery in January 2014. He currently is exhibiting a window installation at the Engine in Biddeford, Maine.

A Look at Cecco d’Ascoli’s Book of Beasts

Professor Diane Murphy

Cecco d’Ascoli’s Book of Beasts

The medieval bestiary, literally a “book of beasts,” is a collection of animal lore that combines observations about the natural world with moral lessons.  Bestiaries form part of a literary tradition that can be traced back to earlier genres such as Aesop’s fables.  The concept that nature provides us with models for ethical behavior was probably transmitted orally, however, through proverbs and stories told to children. In the Middle Ages, the descriptions of fauna, both real and mythical, were often rhymed and accompanied by whimsical illustrations that continue to fascinate audiences of all ages. 

Manuscripts were expensive in the period during which they had to be painstakingly copied by hand. The popularity of bestiaries is attested by the fact that almost every noble family and religious institution in Europe possessed one in their private libraries. With the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, books could be mass produced, but they were still considered luxury items.  Even a famous artist like Leonardo da Vinci could afford only a modest collection of approximately forty titles.  The list for his library includes a reference to Cecco d’Ascoli, author of the Acerba, which contains a bestiary section that some scholars believe was used as the source for Da Vinci’s own version. 

Ironically, neither Da Vinci nor anyone else should have owned a copy of the Acerba, which was banned by papal decree when Cecco was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1327.  It seems likely that people in the late Middle Ages, like people today, were attracted by the “off limits” status of the book, which circulated widely in clandestine copies after the author’s death.  Cecco’s reputation as a necromancer who disseminated the secrets of black magic to his students has little to do with the actual contents of the Acerba, but there are indications in the text that the astrologer may have prudently decided to exercise a bit of self-censorship while he was under arrest. 

Some manuscripts of Cecco’s unfinished encyclopedic poem use the title L’Acerba Età, which can be translated as The Bitter Age. In fact, it’s tempting to interpret many of the messages contained in the book as references to the poet’s own state of mind while attempting to complete his work, knowing that time was running out. The samples from the bestiary included here contain poignant lines that evoke the anguish of a man facing an unjust death sentence ordered by the Inquisition. More information about the historical period during which Cecco lived, which was indeed a “bitter age,” can be found in the English translation available as a digital text through Capponi Editore. 


The Phoenix

Love is like the phoenix in this way:
when it feels that its vitality is waning,
it’s born again. Listen to this marvel!
The phoenix, found in eastern deserts,
will beat its wings against the heat
until the motion ignites hot flames.

Then, I tell you, it’s reduced to ashes.
But by means of the moon’s influence,
little by little the phoenix returns to life,
rising from the ashes to its former state.
There’s never more than one in the world,
yet its range expands throughout the East.

In these dark times, anyone facing death
at the hands of deluded, rapacious men
should light desire’s flame in his heart.
As he burns, he’ll sing a righteous song.
Defeating ignorance with fervent faith,
he’ll return to the world via Paradise.



The Tiger

The tiger runs as swiftly as an arrow,
somewhat like its cousin the panther.
It’s always worried about its young.
Hunters use mirrors to cast images
of the cubs, so that the parent tiger,
seeing the likeness, won’t chase them.

Gazing into the mirrors, it believes
that its cubs are safe; then the hunter
flees, quickly getting beyond reach.
When the tiger realizes that it’s been
fooled by shadows, its mind succumbs
to grief and it roars in pain and sorrow.

Thus our enemy the devil deceives us,
using the seductive mirror of illusion
as a trap to strip wisdom from our souls.
How frightening it is to me when I think
of how little time we have on this earth,
and how rapidly our lives can slip away.

The span of a human life flows like water,
and soon we must leave this world behind.

The Crocodile

The crocodile spends the winter in water
and the summer on land, growing rapidly.
Its worst enemy is a type of crested fish.
The upper jaw of the crocodile moves,
while the lower mandible remains still.
Females, in heat, bury eggs in the earth.

Crocodiles never emerge during winter,
but are revived by mild spring weather,
when young plants bolster their strength.
They’ll kill a man as soon as they see him,
but once he dies, the beast begins to cry,
seeming to mourn, with piteous sobbing.

Then, having wept, it chews and devours
the human flesh. If a serpent crawls into
its mouth while the crocodile is sleeping,
it destroys the enemy’s heart and entrails,
not stopping until it dies an agonizing death
that almost seems like an act of vengeance.

Hypocrites and devious men do this.
Their hearts delight in inflicting pain,
while their faces retain a merciful look.
Any little thing seems to make them cry.
They’re untrustworthy and malicious:
watch out, and don’t fall for their traps!




The Oyster

The oyster opens its shell completely
when the moon is full: seeing this,
the crab starts planning its next meal.
It places a stone or a branch inside,
so that the oyster loses its safe cover.
In this way, the crab traps its victim.

Similarly, a man who opens his mouth,
revealing his secrets to a false traitor,
will feel the wound deep in his heart.
Words can be a matter of life and death.
A wise man will always remain silent
in the midst of wicked acquaintances.

If you want to live long, remember:
you’ll never be damned for silence.



The Viper

The female viper is a poisonous snake
that bears her young with great effort
and dies painfully while giving birth.
Once pregnant, she kills her mate
and decapitates him with her teeth,
feeling her heart betrayed by love.

The young snakes are born by tearing
through her side, according to nature,
which rules the instincts of all beasts.
Because they’re full of venom, vipers
sleep in caverns during the cold season:
spring weather brings them out in force.

Their blind eyes can be cured with fennel.
Before engaging in the act of copulation,
the female viper regurgitates her venom;
as soon as her desire has been achieved,
she reabsorbs it and goes on her way,
since poison is essential to their lives.

Some men act this way when they confess,
regurgitating their sins and seeming contrite:
they don’t stop sinning in their hearts, though.
They aren’t truly repentant, even if it seems
they’ve changed, since they always return,
shamefaced, to their previous wicked ways.

*All images courtesy of the British Library, Catalog of Illuminated Manuscripts.


Diane Murphy earned her BA at Brown University and her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in Comparative Literature, with an emphasis on medieval studies.  She is currently a Professor of Humanities at Unity College, where she has taught literature, composition and general education courses since 1997.  For the past ten years, she has conducted research on Cecco d’Ascoli, author of the Acerba, and has recently published a full translation of the poem, available as a digital edition. 

A Field Guide to Other People’s Trees

Margot Anne Kelley

A Field Guide to Other People’s Trees

(An excerpt from the Introduction to the recently published book of the same name)

In 1893, Josiah Wood Hupper built what is now our house on a one-acre plot near the bottom of the St. George peninsula, a broad granite swath bounded by the St. George river to the west and the open Atlantic Ocean to the east.  Our acre is bounded neither by ocean nor river. Instead, to the front it abuts the state highway that runs the length of the peninsula, and to one side a private dirt road runs between our house and our nearest neighbor’s.  The other side and back of our property adjoin the rest of the 40 acre lot from which our acre was extracted and given to Josiah as a gift by his sister. 

By Maine standards, an acre isn’t very big.  Still, the yard is rich with trees and bushes, brambles and ferns.  Over the ten years we’ve lived here, our outdoor emendations have been modest and nearly always utilitarian:  we added extensive vegetable and herb gardens, some bushes to hide the back-up generator and propane tanks, three semi-dwarf apple trees.  Mostly, we take care of the flora of our forerunners—pruning, lopping, trimming, clipping, and thinning are all part of our legacy. 

That we have so much to care for is a testament to both place and predecessors.  To be sure, these trees are not a wood primeval; this land has been lived on and worked for more than two centuries.  And that work would have been hard:  in many places on the peninsula, including some in our yard, the soil is no more than a shallow layer over granite ledge.  And here, as elsewhere in New England, the landscape is crisscrossed with low stone walls that are at least as much a place to put unearthed stones as they are boundary lines.  I’m sure the knee-high walls that edge our yard are just such.  In these stone walls and trees and other landscape features, the history of this peninsula is written as surely as on paper.

It was this realization that got me wondering about the trees in our yard, this sense that they are a thread connecting the people who’ve lived here, a living record of the history of this place.  Since I am far from expert in tree knowledge, I turned to field guides to learn about them.  And those helped, somewhat.  But the images in most field guides are idealized; and Maine doesn’t offer an ideal climate in some ways.  Trees here are often frailer than they would be in more southerly parts of their growing range, leafing later in the spring than they are “supposed to” or growing less quickly.  And real trees, like real people, don’t always look like models.  Gradually, I got better at identifying and admiring the trees in their own right, rather than just as a symbol of human preferences and connections.  But I remain an amateur.  So, a few years ago I asked an arborist to determine the ages of the trees we’d inherited.  I imagined that learning who had chosen each tree would give me greater insight into this place I had grown to love and to think of as home.

I have learned some about these people.  I have also, however, realized how naïve that early notion was:  contrary to what I’d imagined at the outset, we people have played a pretty limited role in planting the trees on this piece of property.  Instead, animals and birds and (of course) the trees themselves have taken point on that task.  Though the trees have offered only oblique insights about our human forebears, they’ve readily taught me what every backyard naturalist comes to know—that the living world is not composed of easily separated parts, that the birds and bugs and bacteria, the plants and people, are intertwined with the trees and with one another, all of us connected in unexpected ways.  Occasionally, I fleetingly glimpse the warp and woof of this place’s web, the rich system we’ve all contributed to creating. 

And in such moments, this acre swells.

Excerpt from “About this Field Guide” in A Field Guide to Other People’s Trees by Margot Anne Kelley (Port Clyde, ME: Fiddlehead Press, 2015).  Copyright © 2015 by Margot Anne Kelley. Reprinted with permission from Fiddlehead Press.

Margot Anne Kelley is an artist and educator. Equally engaged by words and images, she has been a professor for nearly twenty-five years, teaching literature, writing, photography, and aesthetics. She is the author of Local Treasures: Geocaching across America and The Thing about the Wind. She lives in mid-coast Maine, where she is Executive Director of the K2 Family Foundation and is associated with several other nonprofits focused on finding creative approaches to living more sustainably. In her free time, she grows food.



Terry Tempest Williams Advises & Congratulates Class of 2015

Terry Tempest Williams

Unity College 2015 Commencement Address

President Mulkey, Trustees, Faculty, Students, Proud Parents, and Honored Graduates of Unity College — It is a privilege to stand with you today at America’s Environmental College to celebrate and congratulate the Class of 2015!
This, as you know, is the 50th anniversary of Unity College founded in 1965 by local people, who wanted to create a college for young people living in Maine who wouldn’t have to leave their farms, but could get an education that would continue to support the intellectual, economic and ultimately, spiritual wellbeing of their community.
In community, we discover not only who we are, but what we have to give. It is in community, we can engage in the blessings of reciprocity. We find our niche. Unity is a niche. Each of you graduates are finding your niche, your passion and purpose in place.
Last night, at the home of Charlie and Arlene Schafer on Unity Pond, I was able to meet both CJ O’Connor, daughter of Bert Clifford, the founder of Unity College, and Arlene Constable Schafer of the Constable family who donated their farm for Unity. It was a celebratory meeting. And I am so moved by this community.
I was struck how in each conversation, be it with board members, faculty, or students, the same phrase was spoken, “I found Unity…..” and then, a story ensued.

If only all of us could “find Unity” – in all things –

RachelCarson wrote in SILENT SPRING, “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which

we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road, “the one less traveled by,” offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
Unity College offers this fork in road, the one less traveled, that supports the preservation of the earth.
Amy Hudnor, a Unity graduate from the class of 1999, now the Solar Program Manager for the Kennebec Valley Communty College, like many of you, “found Unity” through her interest in environmental issues. She was attracted to Unity’s focus on “an ecology of mind,” to quote Gregory Bateson. It was small in size and large in vision, a beautiful campus with faculty who cared, where experiential learning was privileged, while the school itself was unpretentious and progressive.
She holds her memories of field trips Down East close, with a snowstorm in April, seeing a harlequin duck on one of her birding adventures and hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing with friends as formative experiences. She read Rachel Carson, knowing this was her home ground, too, alongside Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and other American environmental writers, and felt a part of conservation history.

And you are:

Unity College lit up for me when I heard in 2012 that it was the first American college to divest from fossil fuels. Now, Unity College is not a college that belongs to Maine. It is no longer a regional college. It is a college leading the country toward an “emancipatory education.” You are showing us not only what is possible, but what is necessary: Change.
I honor the leadership of President Mulkey, the board, the faculty, and the students who are forging the way.

Climate change under Unity’s leadership has become a matter of personal integrity and urgency and you cannot know the full impact of your leadership as Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth are trying to follow your example with Stanford, and  Rhode Island College of Design just two colleges among many who have now joined you.

Unity is leading this conversation and it is having a ripple effect.

This is what I most want to share with you today. As a college and as individuals, you cannot know what effect you are having on the world, on your community, or on other people. All you can do is follow the truth of your own heart with your own guiding principles.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting John Karyczak who will graduate with a degree in Environmental Policy, Law

and Society. He has been focusing on the issue of climate change since he was in seventh grade. He not only wants to make a difference, he has a vision of how to proceed. He sees himself focusing on climate change and human rights. He imagines himself running for Congress in New York to make these connections part of responsive and responsible social policy and I have no idea that he will. I told him yesterday, I want to be among the first to contribute to his campaign.
Unity has given John some of his guiding principles.
The very word “Unity” is instructive:

UNITY – The state of being united or joined as a whole – UNITY — we unite together in a common cause, creating a community in place on behalf of the dignity of life, both human and wild.

“Society is unity in diversity” – George Herbert Mead.
“If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired.” — Askhari Johnson Hodari
“The breathing in unison” – T.S. Eliot

President Stephen Mulkey and Terry Tempest Williams

President Stephen Mulkey and Terry Tempest Williams

To breathe these changes into being means we are better equipped to absorb this time of transition. It’s not about the future; it’s about the present moment, right here, right now. We have to make time to breathe, to slow down enough to realize the breadth of what we are setting into motion. The majesty of where you graduates are in this moment.
Last weekend we buried our dog in the desert, a Basenji of fifteen years. His name was Rio. Before he passed, my husband Brooke and I held him for several hours as we breathed together, just that, mirrored one another’s breathes – He calmed down. We calmed down. And we savored where we were in this time of transition. It was one of the most beautiful and intimate moments I have had with another being.
Each day, I make a vow that I will slow down enough to breathe in beauty and make eye contact with another species, be it a dog, a chickadee, a deer, or perhaps a praying mantis in my garden. This “breathing in unison” sustains me and allows me to hold both the grief and the beauty of this moment we are living in.

It is not easy – to engage in the work of the world — but it is worth it.

Dear Graduates: Trust what you feel and act accordingly. Trust what you know. And do not settle for less. It’s about respecting your own integrity and what you have to offer.
Here’s a personal story:
I had just graduated from the University of Utah with a major in English, a minor in biology. I had been teaching a class in the summer called “The Urban Naturalist.” I received a letter in the mail from the publisher Prentice-Hall who asked if I would be interested in writing a book about the course? Sure, why not? They asked for a proposal and I wrote one. But as I started communicating with the editors, I realized a) the letter they sent was a form letter b) they had their own publishing agenda and c) I would be writing the book for them not for me, serving their ideas, not my own. I believed I had something to say and it was more than a paint by the numbers guide book. I withdrew my proposal and the book offer and sought another publisher elsewhere.
Elsewhere was in New York City. I thought, hmmm, what publisher would I like to be part of – what writers do I admire – I looked at my bookshelves – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Loren Eiseley, Barry Lopez, all writers I admired, all published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. I would call them.
I looked up Scribner’s name in my copy of The Writer’s Digest and found their telephone number. I called the first editor’s name, Jack something, he hung up on me. I called the second editor whose name was Laurie Graham, and she stayed on the line……I told her I had a manuscript called “The Urban Naturalist” and that I would love to send it to her. She was polite, she said, “Fine –“ and then, I 
told her 

I was coming to New York, gave her the name of the hotel I would be staying at with my mother and she said, “I’ll be in touch.”
When I arrived in New York, there was no message for me at the hotel; no doubt, she had lost my number, so I called her again. She answered, “No she had not lost my telephone number, yes, she remembered me, and I could drop by Scribner’s at 11:45 a.m., clearly not the best time to meet a New York editor just before they leave for lunch.

Taylor Trifone, 2015 Unity College graduate

Taylor Trifone, 2015 Unity College graduate

I still remember the address. 597 Fifth Avenue I still remember walking down that famous street, my hair pulled back in a ponytail, I was wearing a tweed jacket, with my cords and cowboy boots. And I remember walking inside the publishing house and there hanging on the walls were portraits of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald staring at me. My stomach dropped. I suddenly realized this was a very bad idea. I was way in over my head. I sat down in the lobby and waited and waited and waited….The assistant at the front desk took pity on me and brought me a glass of water. Finally, Ms. Graham arrived in a Chanel suit with piercing blue eyes.
We went into her office where for an hour she grilled me with tough questions, “What did I know about an urban landscape growing up in Utah?” She commented on how I had so romanticized the children that it wasn’t even interesting.
“If I put this manuscript on the desk of the editor of the New York Times, he would laugh you out of this city.”
And then she looked at me, “Why are you wasting my time?”
“Because I believe wild nature has something to teach us.” I said. “Viktor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” talked about how it wasn’t the physical strong who survived the death camps during World War II, it was the spiritually strong, those who held images of nature in mind as a template for beauty and resilience.”
Ms. Graham then said, “You go home and write to me in your own words why landscape matters to you, then, I can put your manuscript on his desk and he will understand.”
Our meeting was over. She walked me to the elevator, pushed the button, the doors opened and she extended her hand. As I reached out to shake it, she said, “By the way, I’m from Wyoming.”

Laurie Graham became my editor, my mentor, and slowly, word by word, I began to find my voice on the page, my passion, my niche, my community. My first book in creative nonfiction, “Pieces of White Shell” was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. I was no longer hiding behind the voices of children.

Trust what you know. And trust what you don’t know.

At 25, I had found an editor who both saw what I knew and what I didn’t know and cared enough to be critical. I learned the power of apprenticeship. We do it alone. We do it together. Our best work is created in community.
Where you come from matters. I come from Utah where red rock walls rise upward like praying hands. Where rocks tell time differently and the sweet

smell of sage brings my breath all the way down.
Wherever I go, I carry sage with me as a reminder of where I belong, what gives me strength, what inspires me in the place that I call home. Sage is the haunt of coyotes and jacktail rabbits, where the sage grouse dance each spring, the perch from which meadowlarks sing, and sage is the purifying herb that is used in ceremonies by the Navajo and Hopi. Sage is forever tied to my heart line where I remember my true and authentic self.



We are all in a humble apprenticeship with the Earth.
Another of my heartlines runs through Maine — And today, together, we “find our Unity” in this unified celebration of common ground – just as we do each fall at the Common Ground Fair where I have met many of you – at this beautiful example of community, niche, and creating meaningful change together.
Each of us is contributing to the divergent path toward “the preservation of the Earth” that Ms. Carson speaks of — each in our own way, each in our own time with the gifts that are ours.

One more story:
Deb Soule – herbalist, gardener, and founder of Avena Botanicals in Rockport, Maine – is a friend of mine – we met a decade or more at her farm, two women in love with the land, cultivated and wild.
On one visit, Deb told me the story of a Mourning Dove who visited her garden. She had noticed it had a broken wing and couldn’t fly. Each morning, she noticed the injured dove would drink the water held by the thistle plant where the petiole meets the stem creating a holding space for dew. And every day, she noticed the Mourning Dove seemed stronger, until one day she could fly. By paying attention to the dove drinking the dew of thistle, Deb wondered if this might not have healing properties unknown to her before – healing what is broken.
Deb knew I had just returned from Rwanda, she knew that I was fragile from witnessing and working with women who had survived the wounds of war. She knew I was writing and 

needed support. Gathering the dew held by thistles with her eye dropper, she made a special tincture for me and placed the dew water inside a bottle of Rose Petal Elixir. Each time I would sit down to write my book, “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” I would take that elixir and place four drops in my mouth and think of that dove sipping drops of dew, healing herself, until she could fly.
Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.
We do it alone. We do it together. We create our best work in community. We are all in humble apprenticeship with the Earth.
Our job is to pay attention.
“The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless…..beyond speech….beyond concept.“ — Thomas Merton.

To the Class of 2015 – perhaps the greatest gift you have received from Unity College is this communion with place, in place, this place of embodied knowledge.

Ocean. Sand. Forest. White pine. Balsam Fir. Birch.
Body– Earth – No separation – We breathe in deeply — Sage from the desert – Hands on the Earth – Hands in the dirt — We remember where the true source of our power lies – Unity – this shared vision of life, interconnected, interrelated — Here – Now – Together
Trust what you know – Trust what you don’t know – Proceed humbly with boldness and bravery.
Some closing thoughts:
The things I cared about in college, wilderness and the wildlands of Utah, literature, environmental education, and creating wild words on the page — are the

same things I care about now. They are also the same things I struggle with almost four decades later. We are still fighting for wilderness inUtah and I am still struggling to create wild words in a world hell bent on being tamed; education still matters to me, and justice is an ongoing pursuit, now evolving to climate justice. I walked with you in the world’s largest climate march in New York City last September.
We are all engaged in what Gertrude Stein calls “the vitality of the struggle.”
May you find your home ground – May you dig in –– and get your hands dirty and your feet wet. And cause a bit of mischief while you’re at it. Sage grows in disturbed soil. We can disturb the soil of the status quo joyously.
And please know, it’s not about what you will do but about who you are that will determine your path of influence –
It’s not about building a career – It’s about building a community — that 

will make the difference — daring to give and receive — fully — Our lives depend on the principle of reciprocity.
Our survival, the vitality of the planet depends on mental flexibility and emotional acuity. Hands raised. Hands put to work. We can improvise. We can create without a map. And we don’t have to live in isolation. The gift of an attentive life is the ability to recognize patterns and find our way toward a unity built on empathy.

Empathy becomes the path that leads us from the margins to the center of concern. The pattern is the thing. Relationships are the path.

The beauty made belongs to everyone. We all bow.
I have brought a sprig of sage for each of you, hand- picked from the desert where Brooke and I live in Castle Valley, Utah. The base of each sprig has been wrapped with red thread symbolic of our bloodlines to the land and lives, both human and wild, that sustain us, the lives we choose to serve with love.

Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find. It is more than the art of assemblage. It is the work of daring contemplation that inspires action.
Breathe this beautiful, difficult, transformative change into being.
May you go forth with courage, commitment, and joy —
We are with you —


Scanned Document

Unity College Class of 2015

Unity College Class of 2015


Terry Tempest Williams, is an American author, conservationist and activist. Williams’ writing is rooted in the American Westand has been significantly influenced by the arid landscape of her native Utah and its Mormon culture. Her work ranges from issues of ecology and wilderness preservation, to women’s health, to exploring our relationship to culture and nature. Williams is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah and a columnist for the magazine The Progressive.


Karen MacDonald, "UTTERANCE" 2013;

Alison Hawthorne Deming



Crows are ubiquitous in the Connecticut hills and fields, the landscape of my childhood.  Their feathers shine in sunlight like obsidian.  Over a cornfield, a flock of crows is an elegance.  Gleaning grubs  from a fallow field, it is a society of peasants.  Crows fly with patience, their flapping never belabored.  Sometimes they glide. They make their own clothing, feathers grown from their skin, every keratinous cell of the calamus, every black silk fiber of the vane, made by the crow, made thoughtlessly and without effort.  There is a hollow place in the quill, a space used by veins to supply nutrients while the feather is alive and growing.  But the feathers are dead when the crow wears them, a head dress, wing dress, body dress,

basic black, and bearing the lovely sheen of life.  For forty million years the iridescence of bird feathers has graced the earth.
But it was the sound of crows that I loved as a child.  Ca-aw.  Ca-aw.  The throaty, emphatic call announced their presence.  It rose from cedar trees on the edge of the yard, from that place in the sky just out of sight above the hickory tree or behind the house, it entered the open window of the school bus or the chaotic playground during recess at school.  The caws announced some work to be done, some passage to be flown, some sight to be seen, some news to be shared.  What was it that made them call like that from the air as they passed on their way?  Ca-aw.  The syllable bends slightly

downward at the end, almost like the Doppler effect of a passing train.  It was a sound I knew well and a voice that made me feel the world was right, that some lives beyond my life were going about their business, being with their being, and I felt suddenly larger than my small self.  Even now remembering it, I feel as if I am opening the door and stepping outside into the wonder of things.  Crows were always a surprise and never a menace to me.
My father did not like crows.
  He spent many hours working in his vegetable garden.  It was his solace.  He started corn from seed, germinating Golden Bantam stock in Dixie cups, then transplanting it into hills he had hoed up in the rocky soil.  No sooner

had he tamped the seedlings into the ground, than the crows would fly in to pluck up the tender greens.  I saw him storm out of the house with his shotgun many times to teach them a lesson.  I’m sure he failed.  I was never shocked to see his rage.  I empathized with that feeling of helplessness that riled him, though I did not share his hatred of crows.
A group of crows is called a “murder.”
  It lines up in a festive parade of animal names: flock of sheep, herd of horses, pack of wolves, parliament of owls, cauldron of hawks, bouquet of pheasants, whiteness of swans, murmuration of starlings, gaggle of geese, improbability of shearwaters, newspaper syndicate of gannets, charm of finches, raft of ducks, exaltation of larks, unkindness of ravens.  The poor corvids scored low in the judging.
Murder as a group name for crows goes back at least to the 1400s in England.
  The American Society of Crows and Ravens suggests the origin of the name might be in the folk legend that crows, in their black robes, hold tribunals to judge and punish members of their flock exercising bad behavior.

If found guilty, the crow would be killed by the flock.  This notion, the society claims, may be based on observations that a crow will occasionally kill a dying crow that doesn’t belong in their territory or will feed on a dead crow.  In medieval times, crows scavenged human remains at gravesides, battlefields, and execution sites
Crows are smart.
  Crows use tools.  They adapt to city life.  They rival primates in cognitive ability.  In the wild, New Caledonia crows will use a twig to probe in a tree trunk for grubs.  In captivity, two crows sharing an enclosure learned to retrieve bits of pig heart, their favorite food, from a bucket.  The male chose the hooked wire, which did the job well, so the female took the straight wire and bent it into a hook, using it to lift the small bucket of food from a vertical pipe. She had no other crows to model the behavior, little training with pliable objects, and very limited experience with wire. Such skill at turning a found object into a tool is rare among animals. Chimpanzees presented with a similar task—using a length of pipe

to pass through a hole to retrieve an apple—failed until they were coached.
Since 1990 Japanese crows have been observed using cars to crack walnuts.
  The trees grow beside a street on a university campus.  The bird drop the nut into traffic and when it’s cracked, fly down to retrieve the meat.  Because traffic can be heavy on campus, the retrieval can be challenging.  So the crows have learned to drop the nuts onto crosswalks.  Crows and humans line up and wait on the sidewalk. When the cars stop, the bird hops into the street and safely retrieves the snack.  Crows in California have been seen using the crosswalk technique. The birds have long known how to drop clams onto rocks to break their shells.  But this behavior requires inferential thinking: if I drop this nut here, it will be cracked open by the passing cars.
Crows also demonstrate compassion and companionship.
  Kevin McGowan, working with the Cornell Ornithological Laboratory, has studied crows for over twenty years. The group he has tagged and studied suffered an epidemic of West Nile

virus that killed one-third of the population in 2002; the following year, another third were lost to the virus.  Crows are very social.  They roost in murders that can range from one-hundred individuals to millions.  Crows have twenty-five calls.  The call for distress brings other crows.  Crows develop a complex system of helpers. They will defend unrelated crows.  One crow will wait in a tree watching out for predators while others forage, making a small personal sacrifice for the good of the flock.  Crows in the wild live fifteen to twenty years.  They mate for life.
During the West Nile epidemic, when one crow lost a partner it stayed with the larger family of eight or so birds.
  Widowed adults moved in with their parents.  Even with plenty of open territory in which to go off and mate anew, they chose to stay and care for siblings.  When only two sisters were left, they joined neighbors and helped raise their young.  Researcher Anne Clark reported that the crows that had suffered big losses to their community did not move right away into the opened territory.  It was as if they

didn’t know who owned it anymore or they simply didn’t want to go back to the place of so much dying.  She called it the “haunted house” effect.
During the epidemic, when a crow was sick and dying its mate would sit beside it until the end.
  If the dying bird had no mate, another member of its blended family would perch by its side.  The researchers concluded that no crow dies alone.  Far from being murderers, a flock crows might more aptly be called a caretaking of crows.



“Crow” from Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit by Alison Hawthorne Deming (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2014).  Copyright © 2014 by Alison Hawthorne Deming. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. www.milkweed.org.

Alison Hawthorne Deming‘s most recent book is Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit (Milkweed, 2014). She is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair of Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona.  She lives in Tucson and Grand Manan, New Brunswick.