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Jan. 30, 2009

Ecology headlines creative writing symposium

by Erin Rosacker

The English department's creative writing program will host "Ecotones: Ecologies in Tension," its fifth installment of the annual Symposium of Wildness, Wilderness and the Creative Imagination. The event brings together artists, writers and scientists for an array of events Feb. 8-9 that are free and open to the public.

"We thought that the idea of the ecotone is very evocative, not only as a literal term but also as a metaphorical term. We're going to have panels and readings exploring the term in both ways," said Debra Marquart, English professor and this year's symposium organizer.


The two-day symposium opens Sunday, Feb. 8, with readings and a gallery talk at the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building. Writers from the creative writing and environment master's program will read from their works (1-2 p.m.), followed by photographer David Hanson's lecture, "Wasteland: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape," at 2 p.m. Hanson's photos are included in a Brunnier exhibition on pollution and environmental damage that runs through March 1.

An opening reception is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Iowa House, 405 Hayward Ave. The evening's keynote, "Who Owns the American West?" begins at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. Author William Kittredge will read from his works, then participate in a discussion moderated by English assistant professor Benjamin Percy. A reception and book signing will conclude the evening.


All of Monday's events will be in the Memorial Union Sun Room. They include a pair of morning sessions and a panel discussion after the lunch break. A tribute to ecologist Paul Errington, who worked at ISU from 1932 to 1962, is from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Selections from Errington's papers and published works will be read.

The symposium closes with a dessert reception (6:30-7 p.m.), followed by "A River Runs Through It, and Other Adventures," a reading and conversation with author and filmmaker Annick Smith. Smith co-produced the film A River Runs Through It and co-founded the Sundance Film Institute.

"We hope that our students, faculty, and staff will avail themselves of all or some of the events," Marquart said. "This is a chance, especially for our students, to attend a conference for no cost. We also run the symposium to help the university-wide conversation about these issues continue."

"Ecotones: Ecologies in Tension"

Feb. 8-9, MU Sun Room (unless noted)
All events are free and open to the public, 4-2180

Sunday, February 8

  • 1-2 p.m., Readings, creative writing MFA students, Brunnier Art Museum, Scheman.
  • 2-3:30 p.m., Gallery talk, "Wasteland: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape," photographer David Hanson, Brunnier Art Museum, Scheman.
  • 4-6 p.m., Reception, Iowa House, 405 Hayward Ave.
  • 7-9 p.m., Keynote, "Who Owns the American West?" reading and conversation with author William Kittredge, moderated by Benjamin Percy, ISU English, reception and book signing follows.

Monday, February 9

  • 9-10 a.m., Lecture, "Hiddenscapes: Glaciers and their Impact on the Iowa Landscape, An Arts and Science Focus," Kathleen Woida, state geologist; and Barbara Haas, ISU English.
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon, Readings and conversation, "Writing Across International Boundaries," Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, St. Olaf College; and Heather Derr-Smith, poet; moderated by David Zimmerman, ISU English.
  • 1-2:30 p.m., Panel discussion, "The Artist as Environmental Activist," David Hanson, photographer; Shannon Ramsey, Trees Forever president; Annick Smith, writer and filmmaker; and Clark Wolf, ISU philosophy and religious studies; moderated by Stephen Pett, ISU English.
  • 3-4:30 p.m., Tribute, "Of Men and Marshes," honoring former ISU ecologist Paul Errington, readings by James Pritchard, ISU landscape architecture; and Matthew Sivils, ISU English.
  • 6:30-7 p.m., Dessert reception, with symposium visiting writers.
  • 7-8 p.m., Keynote, "A River Runs Through It and Other Adventures," reading and conversation with filmmaker Annick Smith, moderated by Debra Marquart, ISU English, followed by a book signing.


Author and film producer Annick Smith (A River Runs Through It) will be part of the conversation during the English department's fifth annual Symposium of Wildness, Wilderness and the Creative Imagination.