Posts Tagged ‘Earth’s Eye’

Looking with Lia Purpura

Many years ago, I took a Chautauqua workshop with poet Margaret Gibson.  She told me that I needed to practice looking, and that in doing so, my poetry would be stronger.

I was a novice writer, and I didn’t understand her advice.  Looking?  Of course, I knew how to look.  Afterall, my poetry was about the working-class world.  I had grown up in that world.  I had spent my whole life Looking.

It’s been many years since that workshop and I have to admit that the process of learning how to look has been a slow one — and even now, I realize that it’s not an action that comes easily.

Essayist and Poet Lia Purpura, at yesterday’s Earth’s Eye Festival, encouraged us to practice looking.  The day was divided into two parts: field work at the lovely Presque Isle in Erie, PA and a craft talk by Purpura.  On the trail, Purpura told us that writing about nature is a tricky act to accomplish: we often enter nature wanting the unexpected or expecting great life revelations, and these two things can happen, but we have to work to make them happen.  I admit that I grew up in the rural world so I always want the unexpected to happen.  Sometimes, I get it.  I see a muskrat in the Connewango Creek right in the middle of town or a Barred owl in the middle of the day (no bad omens here — I have learned that Barred Owls are known for showing up in daylight) or a Black Bear crossing in front of me on a main highway.  Other times, Purpura is right — I have to work a bit harder.   And I also have to work at making leaps into life revelations.

All in all, it was a great day — made especially so because the rain held out until the end of the day, so we didn’t have to scamper off the trails to find shelter from any storm bursts.  Especially great?  In my journal, I have two new starts to prose pieces.  I’m not sure where they will go, but I know they will go somewhere!

Earth’s Eye

Penn State Behrend is once again hosting Earth’s Eye: A Festival of Writing, an event I attended last year (and had a blast even though the weather was a bit crazy).  This year’s festival is on Saturday, September 7 and the featured guest is writer Lia Purpura.  Consider pre-registering for the event at the great low price of $36!  (I’m trying not to sound like an infomercial.) Check out the website for more information.

Wet Weekend

I’m recovering a bit from Earth’s Eye, a festival of nature writing  (I mentioned this event here.) Of course, since the day was devoted to outside fieldwork, it rained, so I spent Saturday a bit soggy, but happy to be in the company of writers who want to learn about nature writing as much as I do.  (To be honest, the weather cleared Saturday afternoon, so I wasn’t that soggy).  It was a stunning day at Presque Isle; furthermore, Scott Russell Sanders was our field group leader for the day, so not only was I in the company of fellow writers who wanted to learn, I was also in the company of Sanders, who is a fantastic person (besides, being a great writer!) Hats off to the English faculty at Penn State Behrend, especially Kim Todd, for organizing this event!

I don’t want to end today’s post without mentioning that qarrtsiluni is currently taking submissions for the next theme issue: animals in the city.  Take a look here for more information.

Earth’s Eye

Writers, naturalists, bird watchers, teachers, journal keepers—anyone interested in writing about the natural world— get inspired and take your work to the next level!  Earth’s Eye, A Festival of Writing in and on the Natural World will take place in Erie, Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 8.  The cost is only $36!!! (And that cost covers transportation from the Penn State Erie to Presque Isle State Park, lunch, and dinner)

Scott Russell Sanders will be the main speaker (If you do not know Sanders’ work, you need to look up his books, now!) Other readings will be given by faculty members of the BFA program at Penn State Erie.

For more information and to register online, go to