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To the Best of Our Knowledge: Writing Nature | [Jim Fleming]

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Writing Nature

Nature writing conjures up images of remote mountains, exotic birds, and the solitary hiker in pristine wilderness. But maybe it’s time to rethink our notions of what it means to write about nature, so that we also look at the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the curious fact that mostly poor people live near hazardous waste sites. A new generation of nature writers calls for a messier and more human take on the natural world.
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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, David Gessner wants to change the way people write about nature. Instead of the traditional stories about wild animals in pristine landscapes, he calls for a style of nature writing that's messy, even raucous, and includes an often-overlooked animal: people. He talks with Anne Strainchamps about his book My Green Manifesto, the story of a kayak trip down Boston's charles River with his friend Dan Driscoll.

Then, nature writer Robert Finch gives Steve Paulson an insider's view of the ecosystem of the Cape Cod town of Wellfleet. They walk along the outskirts of Wellfleet, and visit shellfish growers Pat and Barbara Woodbury, who are raking for clams. Finch reads from his collection of essays A Cape Cod Notebook and he reflects on the ways that people have changed the Cape's landscape.

Next, Lauret Savoy believes too many nature writers focus on pristine wilderness and neglect the gritty reality of the places where people actually live - in cities, for instance, maybe even near toxic waste sites. And writing about these places means grappling with difficult questions about race and poverty. Savoy talks with Jim Fleming about her book The Colors of Nature.

And finally, Gary Snyder occupies a unique place in American letters. A Pulitzer prize-winning poet and a friend of the Beat writers, he has carved out a distinct literary voice in poems and essays about Buddhist spirituality and the natural world. Steve Paulson talks with Snyder about what it means to be a Buddhist animist, his Zen training in Japan, the meaning of gratitude, and the importance of exploring "the wild areas of the mind." Snyder also reads two poems. [Broadcast Date: November 11, 2011]

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