Language as wilderness

This piece is more journal-like in its musings than most of my posts.   In fact, parts have been  lifted from my hiking journal.   I hope this doesn’t  render its structure or possible meanings  confusing.   Also,  this post  plays around with several rather  strenuous threads, like I do commonly when I’m out walking alone.    I thought I’d just throw these ideas out there for fun today, but if you have a headache or are looking for something less troublesome to start or end your day on, you might want to skip this one.

Last year(ish), Moab Poets and Writers solicited a bit of writing that would fit compactly into one of the columns of their newsletter.   I’m not happy with the piece I wrote for them; it wasn’t quite focused and in places the language fumbled badly.  

As underdone as it was, it apparently stirred up some folks.   Earlier this year one of the group’s representatives contacted me.   MP &W was designing a brochure laying out membership information and other goodies.     They wanted to include a few lines from that earlier piece in the brochure.   I was delighted to hand it over €¦ more or less.   Like I said, the passage does contain some serious flaws.

This is the line MP &W selected for their brochure (again, forgive my clumsiness): Continue reading “Language as wilderness”

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Bird in the hand

First published at A Motley Vision,  this essay explores the  nature of  stewardship by wondering if  we understand what stewardship is or  if we’ve  merely assumed that we understand.   Are we fully conscious of the needs of other creatures, as good stewards ought to be? Are we imaginative enough to visualize the possibilities of faithful stewardship, which may include providing other species with opportunities for €¦ oh, I don’t know €¦ progression, maybe …  or  perhaps gaining  from them insight that  endows our own progression?

An abridged version of “Bird in the Hand”  was published in 2007  in  Glyphs III,  a regional  anthology containing  writings by local writers and visitors to  southeastern Utah’s  redrock  country  that Moab Poets and Writers publishes every two years.    I’ve written more  about MP &W  here.    

In July 2005 my brother Jim and I threw camping gear into his new Toyota 4Runner and headed for a canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The object of our trip: try out the 4Runner on real four-wheel-drive roads and see petroglylphs at the canyon’s mouth. We arrived at the canyon at dusk and as evening fell  helped each other wrestle up tents in a whipping canyon wind. Continue reading “Bird in the hand”

Field notes #1

Posts  in this series are semi-polished exerpts from  the pocket-sized hiking journal I carry when I go out walking in local canyons, etc.    If something interesting happens or a  bolt from the  blue  strikes, I  pull out the old journal and  get down the basics.   I’ve left Field Notes  elsewhere around the bloggernacle,  such as  here and here,  but I thought that for Wilderness Interface Zone and simplicity’s sake  we’d just start over again at #1.

As always, if you, dear reader,  have field notes or vivid memories  of trips taken, you’re invited to  make entries  you’d  like to share in the comments section.  

February 18, 2009, a.m.   Approaching the trailhead into Crossfire, I glance at the knoll northeast where reposes the horse skeleton.   My eye catches a flash of movement.   I stop.   Small deer maybe?   No. The  tail end  of  some other kind of  animal slips into a juniper’s scant cover.   Will the animal reveal itself?  

Wait for it. Continue reading “Field notes #1”

A primer: What is nature literature?

This brief, light treatment of possibilities for the LDS nature writer is excerpted from my unpublished paper “Why Joseph Went to the Woods: Rootstock for LDS Literary Nature Writers,” presented at the 2008 Association for Mormon Letters Annual Conference.   This paper arose out of blog posts at A Motley Vision and Times and Seasons.

Perhaps one reason LDS writers haven’t ventured far into the field of nature writing is because they’re not sure what it is or does and whether or not writing it fulfills covenants they’ve made to help build the kingdom of God.   Furthermore, in my experience, many in the LDS population don’t know how to interpret the anger, misanthropy, or sorrow that crops up in traditional nature writing, especially when the high rhetoric expressing such emotions threatens LDS lifestyles and beliefs.   Important, call-to-action terms like €œstewardship, € a word that many if not most LDS accept as an essential component of concepts like €œservice € and €œrighteous dominion, € prove uncomfortably mercurial when applied to environmental issues.   Writing nature literature might qualify as exercising €œgood stewardship, € and thus as an act of building the kingdom, but what kind of writing qualifies as nature writing and what aspects of building the kingdom might it accomplish? Continue reading “A primer: What is nature literature?”