Tag: matter journal
An Interview with Thoreau Scholar Jeffrey S. Cramer
Interview and introduction by Todd Simmons
photo by Jillian Robinson, 2008
Ed. note: Look for this interview plus an expanded introduction in Matter Journal 15 East Coast, due out in December.
I recently commissioned a local poet to paint a portrait of Henry D. Thoreau to hang in the bookstore where I work. I figured Thoreau could keep an eye on things when I’m not around. The painting sits up high on a bookshelf, beautifully evoking the famous writer who lived from 1817-1862. Only a few images of Thoreau exist, so the gaze might be familiar to you: the large, expressive eyes, the somber, rigid expression (as much a part of the photographic process at the time, as Thoreau’s demeanor). Some customers who enter the store smile at the portrait, and seem to understand Thoreau quite well, but most do not, or get hung up on misinterpretations of the famous so-called misanthropic recluse.
What is sometimes lost on people as they read Walden, or some pithy quote from one of his many essays, is the flesh-and-blood man that actually existed, the life that produced such distinct and lasting works. Thoreau’s life was a unique and purposeful one, … Read More »
Rising Up: Bill McKibben and the Climate Movement
Introduction and interview by Caitlin Steele
Photo by Nancie Battaglia via Creative Commons
Forthcoming in the printed version of Matter Journal 15 East Coast
In 1989, Bill McKibben published The End of Nature, one of the first books about global warming written for a general audience. In it he described the science behind global warming, and he predicted, among more obviously tragic effects like famine and flood, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns ahead. The book quickly developed a reputation for depressing its readers, but McKibben had done the research, knew the stats, and had reason to worry us. At that time, the 1980s had seen the six warmest years on record, with 1988 topping the chart. By 2010, 1988 ranked 15th on that same list. The 1990s and 2000s held claim to seventeen of the top twenty. In retrospect, the book seems not only dark but prophetic.
In one End of Nature scene, McKibben describes an Adirondack canoe trip he made with a New York state biologist to visit the nest of a pair of bald eagles. The eagles had been absent from the park for decades, and the pair he witnessed … Read More »
Columbus found the East Coast because it was in his way, blocking access to India and all the delicious spices of the Far East. It’s been harder for us here, on the edge of the plains, on the edge of our younger mountains to do the same. Maybe it’s like going back in time, reversing Manifest Destiny, or visiting the grandparents. In any event, the East Coast is coming west!
The next issue of our literary journal, Matter 15: East Coast, takes shape, as if in the fog of coastal lowlands, from our community of wanderers, from favorite local writers, newcomers, and New Yorkers. The issue promises to take us sailing off the coast of New England, running through decrepit docklands, to the barrier island of Ocracoke, through the penal system, through Washington bureaucracies, and other easterly elsewheres. We will explore the legacies of Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson, and interview contemporary visionaries Bill McKibben and Severine von Tscharner Fleming. This issue will be a broad conversation casting light on what it means to be here and there.
Featuring contributions from Brandon Bell, Sonya Whitesell, Ben Langston, Shelly Catterson, Lauren Belski, Patricia Lincoln, Martin Moran, Truth Thomas, and more, this, like the … Read More »