The University Record, March 18, 1998

6 nature writers here as part of 'Forgotten Language Tour'

By Jane R. Elgass

Six writers of renown on nature and the environment will be on campus next week when Ann Arbor becomes a stop on the national "Forgotten Language Tour" of The Orion Society.

The writers' visit is part of the Environmental Theme Semester: "Rethinking the Relationship" and is co-sponsored and co-hosted by 11 community organizations.

The writers--Alison Hawthorne Deming, William Kittredge, Stephanie Mills, Pattiann Rogers, Scott Russell Sanders and Annick Smith--will be here March 24-25 for a series of free public readings. They also will meet with classes; participate in two field trips, one to Nichols Arboretum and another to one of the nearby Metroparks; and meet with representatives of community organizations.

The Orion Society is an environmental education organization that provides a communications and support network for grassroots environmental and community organizations across North America. Its "Forgotten Language Tour" has taken leading nature writers and poets to communities in more than 20 states.

The tour is designed "to promote nature literacy--a deeper, more dynamic and creative understanding of our relationship with the natural world--through readings, workshops and discussions."

Now in its sixth year, it draws on the country's "great barnstorming and storytelling traditions, attempting to bring communities together in the recognition that the health of the human community is inextricably bound with that of the natural world."

Deming is the author of Science and Other Poems, which received the Walt Whitman Award of the American Academy of American Poets; The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence and Temporary Homelands: Essays on Nature, Spirit and Place. Forthcoming this fall is a non-fiction work, The Edges of the Civilized World. She has been director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center since 1990.

Kittredge managed farming on the MC Ranch in southeastern Oregon until he was 35 and since 1969 has been a creative writing teacher at the University of Montana. His work has appeared in Atlantic, Harpers, Esquire, Outside and Paris Review. His books include Owning It All, Who Owns the West, We Are Not in This Together, Hole in the Sky and The Portable Western Reader.

Mills is an author and ecologist who for more than 25 years has been writing and speaking about the tragic devastation of the natural world and the hope for the restoration of our bioregions. Her articles and book reviews have appeared in a number of publications and she is the editor of In Praise of Nature and Turning Away from Technology: A New Vision for the 21st Century. She lives in the Leelanau Peninsula.

Rogers is the author of seven books, with Eating Bread and Honey the most recent. Her sixth book, Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books Published in 1994 and was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award. She has received two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants, a Guggenheim fellowship and a poetry fellowship from the Lannan Foundation.

Sanders is Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University and has published 20 books, including novels, collections of stories and essays, personal narratives and storybooks for children. His work appears regularly in Orion, The Georgia Review and North American Reader. He has received NEA and Guggenheim fellowships and his next book, Hunting for Hope, will be published this fall.

Smith is a freelance writer and filmmaker who lives in Montana. Her collection of essays, Homestead, was published in 1995. She is co-editor with Kittredge of a Montana anthology, The Last Best Place. Her latest book, Big Bluestem: A Journey into the Tall Grass, won the 1997 Oklahoma Book Award. A founding member of the Sundance Film Institute, her credits include the feature films Heartland (executive producer) and A River Runs through It (co-producer).

Mills, Deming and Sanders will read from their works at 8 p.m. Tuesday (March 24) in the Vandenberg Room, Michigan League. Smith, Rogers and Kittredge will speak at 8 p.m. Wednesday (March 25) at the Kerrytown Concert House.

LS&A and the School of Natural Resources are the sponsors of the Environmental Theme Semester. The Housing Office and YoHA (Year of Humanities and Arts) also support the tour's stop here. Community co-sponsors include the City of Ann Arbor, Ecology Center, Great Lakes Literary Alliance, Huron River Watershed Council, Huron Valley Group-Sierra Club, Mosaic Foundation, Washtenaw Audubon Society, Washtenaw County. Co-hosts are Huron Valley Greens, National Wildlife Federation, Potawatomi Land Trust and Wild Ones.