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Our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe.

Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education.

Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Formerly department chair for Animal Studies with the Humane Society University and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jonathan is currently Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.

This year marks our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize, and we are delighted to be offering a $1,000 prize and a four-week writing residency thanks to the generosity of our amazing prize partner PLAYA. All manuscripts submitted for the prize will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press.

Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details about the prize — submissions open September 1, 2017. We look forward to reading your work!

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ASLE announces 2017 book award finalists

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment has announced the finalists for their bi-annual book awards. The ASLE book awards “in the areas of ecocriticism and environmental creative writing recognize excellence in the field.”

 

Creative Award Finalists

The judges were Emily McGiffin, the winner of the ASLE Creative Writing Award in 2015, who lives in Vancouver, BC; Rich King, a finalist for the 2015 Creative Writing Award, a research associate with The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport; and Tom Hallock, who teaches in the Visual & Verbal Arts Department at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg.

Branch, Michael P.  Raising Wild:  Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness.  Boulder:  Roost, 2016.

“A beautifully-written collection of essays that splices memoir with natural history as it carries us deep into the unsung terrain of domesticity in the wilderness. Michael Branch is keenly observant and unfailingly witty as he schools us in the natural wonders of his home.”

 

 

Hanson, Chad.  This Human Shape.  Northfield, MN:  Red Dragonfly, 2016.

“A beautifully-written collection of essays that splices memoir with natural history as it carries us deep into the unsung terrain of domesticity in the wilderness. Michael Branch is keenly observant and unfailingly witty as he schools us in the natural wonders of his home.”

 

 

Moore, Kathleen Dean.  Piano Tide:  A Novel.  Berkeley:  Counterpoint, 2016

“A beautiful, unique, and suspenseful novel. Kathleen Dean Moore has somehow channeled the ecology and humanity of E. Annie Proulx’s Shipping News and John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row into Good River Harbor, an imaginary town in Southeast Alaska. Even while focusing on the details and spinning a page-turner, Moore encompasses most of the major issues of the twenty-first century in the Pacific Northwest: salmon, water, tourism, jobs, global warming, wilderness, and the lives and legacy of First Peoples. Howard, her straight man caught in the middle, begins to think the same as Nora, the eco-activist: Imagine how you can live in a place without wrecking it.”

Raymond, Midge.  My Last Continent: A Novel. New York:  Scribner, 2016.

My Last Continent is a love story. Raymond teaches us how and why to love Antarctica. She lures us into loving her nuanced protagonist, a field ornithologist named Deb Gardner. And Raymond shows us how and why to love all the other scientists and romantics who spend part of each year at the bottom of the world:” those who have run out of places to go, and those who have run out of places to hide.” Can a drama of romance and shipwreck and penguins also have something to say about ecotourism and climate change? Yes. My Last Continent is what happens when a nature writer crafts an event like the Titanic.”

(Midge Raymond is an EcoLit Books contributor!)


Savoy, Lauret Edith.  Trace:  Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape. Berkeley:  Counterpoint, 2015.

“Well researched, timely, gracefully written; particularly intriguing on the connections between landscape, memory and race.”

 

 

 

Sutherland, Kate.  How to Draw a Rhinoceros:  Poems by Kate Sutherland.  N. p.:  Book Thug, 2016.

“Surprisingly insightful in its contemporary adaptations of earlier natural history traditions.”

 

 

 

 

Tevis, Joni.  The World Is on Fire:  Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse.  Minneapolis, MN:  Milkweed, 2015.

“Some of the most explosive prose I’ve read in some time. Unsettling.”

 

Ecocriticism Book Award Finalists

The judges were Nicole Seymour, winner of the the winner of the ASLE Ecocritical Book Award in 2015, Tom Lynch, founding coordinator of the ASLE Book Awards and editor of the journal Western American Literature, and Molly Westling, Professor Emerita at the University of Oregon and author of The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender and American Fiction.


Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures (University of Minnesota Press, 2016)

“This book is a rich, very original extension of Alaimo’s influential concept of “transcorporeality” from her previous scholarship. Exposed explores the radical ways such a perspective erases illusions of human separateness from the rest of the living world, thus leaving Cartesian objectivism far behind. With ingenuity and nuance, Alaimo here applies queer theory, marine biology, feminist posthumanism, and exciting aesthetic analysis to insist on human embeddedness in the deep material reality of earth and especially sea on the one planet where we belong and whose climates are rapidly, dangerously changing.”

 

Derek Gladwin, Contentious Terrains: Boglands, Ireland, Postcolonial Gothic (Cork University Press, 2016)

“An original, richly theorized examination of the deep landscape histories embodied in Northern European boglands, especially in Ireland, and literary treatments of their meanings by writers from Bram Stoker, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney to more recent poets and playwrights and remarkable geocultural nonfiction writer Tim Robinson. Gladwin as a Canadian ecocritic brings fresh postcolonial approaches to consider these shifting spaces that are part water, part earth and that have moved and changed in radical ways over geological time and more recently through empires from Celtic and Roman to Viking and Anglo powers.”

 

Ursula Heise, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

“Heise brings her formidable analytical skills and erudition to an analysis of how we think about and respond to one of the main aspects of the Anthropocene, extinction. Makes a strong case for the importance of the humanities in how we understand what is often considered to be a purely scientific problem. Well written, this will be a key text in the field for years to come.”

 

Erin James, The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives (University of Nebraska Press, 2016).

“James adeptly combines three fields often seen as distinct: ecocriticism, narrative studies, and postcolonial studies. Of special note is how the book uses narrative theory, supplemented by cognitive neurobiology, to explain how readers come to inhabit the world of stories, helping us to move beyond the poorly theorized “mimesis” conundrum that has bedeviled ecocriticism. Surprising and innovative insights on every page.”

 

Jesse Oak Taylor, The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf. (University of Virginia Press, 2016).

“This book fills a significant gap in terms of ecocritical work on both Victorian studies and modernism. Indeed, Taylor makes a persuasive case for literature of that period as Anthropocene literature – and, in so doing, offers a stronger account of the notion of Anthropocene literature than I’ve seen elsewhere. This book seems as important to ecocriticism/environmental humanities as it does to studies in the novel, modernism, Dickens studies, etc. – which I think is quite a feat. It’s also elegantly written and displays highly original thinking.”

Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Writing the Goodlife: Mexican American Literature and the Environment. (University of Arizona Press, 2016).

“This book also fills a significant gap — in this case, when it comes to coverage of Latinx/Chicanx literature and culture. I believe it’s the first book-length ecocritical study of Mexican-American literature. While groundbreaking in these ways, the book also provides a nice complement to extant work on African-American, queer, and other minority traditions of eco-engagement. It makes a bold, counterintuitive but ultimately crucial case against terms such as “environment” and “environmentalism,” showing how they are coded in racially exclusive ways. I also appreciate how the preface models the importance of the personal in the scholarly.”

 

Winners will be announced in June.

ASLE

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The best environmental books we’ve read in 2016

I polled our contributors to see what books they’ll remember best from 2016.

And here we have it — some of which we’ve reviewed and some of which we hope to still…

 

Anna Monders


Last of the Giants: The Rise and Fall of Earth’s Most Dominant Species by Jeff Campbell

 

Midge Raymond

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
This book examines the life of the oft-forgotten founder of the modern environmentalist movement, Alexander von Humboldt, and his story is a timely one, especially in an era in which climate change is still not receiving the attention it needs in order to save the planet.

 


Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith
This novel envisions environmental catastrophe on several levels. With a narrative that alternates between the narrator’s past visit to the Washington state island and her current life in Oregon, Smith’s novel portrays the connections between eco-disasters natural and man-made, between relationships past and present, and how we recover — or do not — from landscapes forever changed.

 


Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo
A delightful, wholly original novel that brings YA readers to territory not often visited in this genre: Antarctica. While the novel doesn’t tackle environmental issues head-on, its glimpses of Antarctica’s natural beauty, details on research in eco-marine biology, and the fact that the protagonist is a vegetarian all subtly link this novel with environmental awareness.

 

Jacki Skole

Only the Animals, by Ceridwen Dovey, explores what it means to be human in an extraordinary series of short stories narrated by animals caught up in conflicts dating back to the late nineteenth century.

 

In Lab Girl, Hope Jahren digs into the inner life of plants and into her own life to create a memoir that is as much about her as it is about the natural world we all inhabit.

 

John Yunker

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Where Sometimes a Great Notion is a testament to the forests along the coast range of Oregon, Barkskins is a testament to all forests.

 

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

An epic love story at the bottom of the earth. Perhaps I’m a bit biased but I do believe this book is one of the best books of the year.

 

Center for Humans and Nature’s Best Books of 2016

Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet, Julie Dunlap and Susan Cohen, eds., Trinity University Press

It’s a collection of essays by young adults (in their 20s to early 30s) writers, exploring the realities of a rapidly changing natural world and our response to it.

 

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, by Drew Lanham, Milkweed Editions, 2016.

The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South and in America today.

 

The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy, New York Review Books

Acclaimed British environmental journalist and essayist Michael McCarthy weaves his personal experience growing up in rural England and his close observations as a naturalist into a beautiful reminder of what biophilia can really mean.

 

Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology by T.J. Demos,  Sternberg Press
Art historian and culture critic T.J. Demos brings together contemporary new theoretical directions in political ecology and philosophies of the “post-Natural condition” with contemporary eco-activist and art movements from around the world. Drawing from indigenous traditions that are very old and scientific thinking that is very new, the book is a guide to emerging new visions—and visualizations—of the relationships between humans and the Earth.

Ecological Governance: Toward a New Social Contract with the Earth by Bruce Jennings, West Virginia University PressCenter for Humans and Nature Senior Fellow Bruce Jennings argues that both technological innovation and a transformation of values will be needed in a transition to a post-fossil carbon world. He explores the pathway from a social contract of consumption to a social contract of trusteeship through new modes of freedom, justice, solidarity, and ecological democratic governance.

 

Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good by Chuck Collins, Chelsea Green Publishing

What are the responsibilities of the rich? Especially in this political moment as the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to increase? Born into the one percent, Chuck Collins gave away his inheritance at 26 and spent the next three decades mobilizing against inequality. He delivers a narrative and challenge to other unrooted one percenters to invest themselves into communities and to use their wealth and power to respond to issues such as climate change.

 

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben, Greystone Books
Imagine that trees talk to each other, care for their children, as well as care for the sick and elderly. Imagine that trees can scream in pain and mourn their dead. Then read The Hidden Life of Trees to ground your imagination in reality. You will never look at trees the same way again.

 

Great Tide Rising: Towards Clarity and Moral Courage in a time of Planetary Change by Kathleen Dean Moore, Counterpoint Press

Philosopher and nature essayist Kathleen Dean Moore takes on the questions: Why is it wrong to wreck the world? What is our obligation to the future? What is the transformative power of moral resolve? How can clear thinking stand against the lies and illogic that batter the chances for positive change? And always this: What stories and ideas will lift people who deeply care, inspiring them to move forward with clarity and moral courage?

 

Fracture: Essay Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America, Stefanie Brook Trout and Taylor Brorby, eds., Ice Cube Press

More than fifty writers explore the complexities of fracking through first-hand experience, investigative journalism, story-telling, and verse—exposing fracking’s effects on local communities as well as its global impacts.

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New EcoLit Books: Spring/Summer 2016

ashland creek press books

So many books, so little time!

Because we can’t review every book that catches our eye I thought we should at least try to mention  new and upcoming books periodically. So here are the recent books that were mentioned to us.


Cultivating Environmental Justice: A Literary History of U.S. Garden Writing
by Robert S. Emmett
UMass Press

Enchanted Islands: A Novel
by Allison Amend
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
by Frans de Waal

Pia and the Skyman
By Sue Parritt

Perils of Payeto, Saving the Last Vaquita Porpoise
by Tio Stib


If you’re a publisher and have upcoming eco-literature or eco-fiction to promote, please let me know via this form.