Q. Your vision about how we ought to live in relation to the natural world stands very much in the tradition of Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, and such. And you make it pretty clear in your writing that you’re working from within that tradition. I’m curious about how you make your message your own.
A. Well, certainly I have drawn on the great tradition of American nature writing, and I honor those predecessors. But I also feel that I’m doing something different. That tradition was created primarily by men who explored nature in solitude. They made excursions into the natural world, lived beside ponds or climbed trees in the midst of storms or canoed wild rivers, and then returned to write about the experience. I treasure their work. But I am not solitary. I write about living in the midst of family, community, and human structures. I see the natural world not as a wild place out there, but as the matrix from which we arise and in which we dwell. We breathe it, drink it, eat it, and wear it; we are sustained by nature with every heartbeat.
Among our contemporaries, Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, in particular, have written powerfully about human relationships embedded within nature. They exemplify the sort of writer I’ve tried to be, more fully than such earlier figures as Thoreau or Muir. READ MORE ...
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