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Feb. 15, 2008

Creative symposium: Earth/Animal/Oracle

by Steve Jones, LAS Public Relations

Lectures, music, panel discussions and readings highlight a three-day symposium that looks at creative writing and the environment.

"Earth/Animal/Oracle," the fourth annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness and the Creative Imagination, is Sunday, Feb. 17, to Tuesday, Feb. 19, on campus and in Ames.

The symposium is presented by the MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment within the English department. All events are free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker is novelist and nature writer Brenda Peterson, whose presentation is Sunday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. Peterson, who resides in Washington, will discuss her new work, Raptured: Seal Sitting in the End Times, and her memoir, Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals, which was named as a "Best Spiritual Book of the Year."

The author of four novels, Peterson's work has appeared in The New York Times, Seattle Times and magazines such as the New Age Journal, Sierra and Orion.

Writers Ven Begamudre and Sheryl St. Germain will read from their works Monday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m., also in the Sun Room. A short story writer and novelist, Begamudre has completed six writer-in-residence appointments.

St. Germain directs the MFA program in creative writing at Chatham College, Pittsburgh, where she also teaches poetry and creative nonfiction. She is a former Iowa State faculty member.


Fourth annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness & the Creative Imagination
Feb. 17-19, MU Pioneer Room unless noted
Events are free and open to the public

Sunday, February 17

  • 2 p.m., Reading, Letters to a Young Iowan, Zachary Jack, North Central College, Naperville, Ill.; Jim Pease, ISU Extension; Neil Nakadate, ISU English, Susan Futrell, freelance writer; Phyllis Harris, Ames author; and Karen Menz, Perry teacher, Ames Public Library.
  • 7 p.m., Performance, Inpanh Thavonekhan, Laotian flute music and woodcarving, Sun Room, MU.
  • 8 p.m., Keynote address, "Rapture in the Earth," Brenda Peterson, novelist and nature writer, Sun Room, MU.

Monday, February 18

  • 9-10 a.m., Workshop, "The Craft of Environmental Fiction," Brenda Peterson.
  • 10:15-11:15 a.m., Roundtable reading and discussion, "Books of Place and the Cartography of the Self," Neelika Jayawardane, State University of New York-Oswego; Anna Leahy, North Central College, Naperville, Ill.; Linda Morganstein, freelance medical writer and author; and Richard Solly, author and editor for Hazelden Publishing, Center City, Minn.
  • 11:15 a.m.-noon, Discussion groups, ISU alumni Neelika Jayawardane, Anna Leahy, Linda Morganstein, Richard Solly discuss the writing process.
  • 1-2 p.m., Poetry reading, fiddle music and nature slide show, Paul Brooke, Grand View College, Des Moines, and Ken Waldman, former professor and fiddling poet.
  • 2:15-4 p.m. Panel discussion, "Plants and Animals in the Field, Oracles on the Page," members of the Black Earth Institute, Black Earth, Wis.
  • 7:30-8 p.m., Fiddle music and natural history slide show, Ken Waldman and Paul Brooke, Sun Room, MU.
  • 8 p.m., Reading, Ven Begamudre, writer, and Sheryl St. Germain, Chatham College, Pittsburgh, 9 p.m. reception, Sun Room, MU.

Tuesday, February 19

  • 9-10:30 a.m., Panel, "What Can Wildlife Tell Us About Our Changing World?" Diane Debinski, Brent Danielson and Fred Janzen, ISU ecology, evolution and organismal biology; and Lisa Schulte and Julie Blanchong, ISU natural resource ecology and management.
  • 10:45 a.m.-noon, Reader's theater performance, Farmscape: Documenting the Changing Rural Environment, ISU creative writing students.
  • 1-2 p.m. Field trip, ISU's Reactor Woods, Jim Pease, ISU Extension.


The fourth annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness and the Creative Imagination, is Feb. 17-19.