You can now read selections from Facing the Change on your computer or handheld device, via our new online sampler at http://facingthechangeonline.wordpress.com. Browse and ponder these essays and poems at your leisure – and if you like a particular piece, you can easily share it with friends, colleagues, or students, post a link on your own website or Facebook page, tweet it, insert the link in an online discussion of a relevant topic, etc. Let’s help these writings get to the wider audience they deserve!
There’s a new academic review of Facing the Change in the most recent issue of Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism (18:3), the journal of ASLE-UKI, the UK-Ireland branch of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14688417.2014.966564 (subscription required)
Recounting her previous immersion in the study of climate change discourse from an intellectual, academic perspective, reviewer Adeline Johns-Putra says that when she began to read FTC, “the components of my theoretical armoury became increasingly disarmed. Or, rather, my intellectual awareness about the ethical and psychological enormity of living with climate change was re-engaged at an entirely different level—an affective one.”
She continues: “This book enables its reader not only to reflect on the profound difficulties of talking and writing about climate change but also to work through the alienating effects of the process, for example, frustration, sadness, guilt and anger. Divided into sections that deal with different aspects of climate change awareness and action, the book moves progressively from watching, to caring, to thinking, to the possibility of doing.” Appropriately noting some of the book’s limitations—including an unevenness of writing not atypical of a collected volume, and (as in previous reviews) the near-exclusion of non-American perspectives—Prof Johns-Putra nevertheless ends with a positive evaluation:
“One puts down this book, nonetheless, with a real sense of hope for the future. That is thanks to some careful selection and arrangement by Steven Pavlos Holmes as editor, as well as to the emotional depths plumbed by some of the writers, which enables a productive catharsis. It is also a book worth dipping into from time to time, yielding enough variety to sustain a re-reading, enough urgency in its many voices to remind us why we need to act, and enough wisdom in its insights to persuade us that we can each make a difference.”
Another brief but thoughtful review of FTC is in the Winter 2014 issue of ISLE (the journal of ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment), available both in paper and online:
According to reviewer Stephen Siperstein, “I used the book to great success in a first-year humanities seminar on climate change; the students connected more easily with the perspectives offered by the authors in this volume than they did with more traditional climate ‘experts’ like Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, or Al Gore. Of course, the contributors to this book are climate change ‘experts’ in their own right, and as Holmes notes, these authors—diverse in age, profession, class, gender, and geographic location—are our emotional and cultural first responders to climate change’ (2). ”
Moreover, Siperstein pinpoints the book’s “most important quality” as follows: “It does not prescribe what we should think or what we should feel about climate change. Instead, it presents a range of honest responses and leaves it up to us to weigh the possibilities.”
The review concludes with some appropriate critique and an interesting challenge:
“The book’s only significant limitation is its inclusion of mostly US writers. This skews the collection’s overall perspective of climate change to that of the global north. ‘Personal encounters’ with climate change from Massachusetts or Oregon would read much differently (and perhaps even more powerfully) in conjunction with personal encounters from China or Kenya, for example. With any luck, this collection should inspire a second volume or other similar projects.”
Here’s a link to a new review of Facing the Change, in the latest issue of World Literature Today (May-August 2014). Praising “the wide-ranging and honest voices in this smartly edited collection,” reviewer John Calderazzo says: “These crisp contributions read like the thoughts of ordinary folks trying to figure out how to live sustainable and meaningful lives in thrall of enormous changes that so often seem beyond the reach of individual action.”
The issue also contains a whole section on “International Eco-Lit” – great company for FTC. Check it out!
On April 9, Ripon College in central Wisconsin played host to the first Facing the Change event in middle America. FTC editor Steven Pavlos Holmes – whose visit to Ripon also included guest appearances in a few environmental studies courses and discussions with faculty, all made possible by funds from the Banville Family Trust – introduced the book and led the discussion after the readings. Local residents Soren Hauge and Kat Griffith read selections from the book: Soren (professor of economics at Ripon and organizer of the event) chose Jamie Sweitzer Brandstader’s “The Innocence of Ice,” whose stories of youthful hockey games brought back memories from Soren’s own childhood; Margarita Engle’s “Search,” which illustrated an issue raised in a class the day before; and Willow Fagan’s thoughtful meditation on struggle and strength, “Beyond Denial.” Kat chose pieces with similar personal resonances, Marybeth Holleman’s “Thin Line Between” and Julie Dunlap’s “Annapolis Bus Ride,” the latter raising issues from Kat’s own experiences as homeschooler and community educator.
In the lively discussion that followed (which was still going strong at the end of the allotted hour and a half), about 25 students, faculty, and local residents shared their own stories, observations, and concerns about climate change, and about the natural world in general – from backyards in Ripon to Alaska, from birds to bears, from the green and growing earth to the frozen and icy parts of the world. Indeed, this audience’s responses brought out the fact that FTC isn’t just a “global warming book,” but a collection of eloquent and evocative nature writing with the power to move people to reflect on their experiences of and fears for the living world as a whole.
Thanks to Soren and Kat, the Banville Family Trust, Ripon College, and everyone who attended for a powerful evening of community and reflection!
Good news! Facing the Change: Personal Encounters with Global Warming has been selected as a Finalist in ForeWord Review’s 2013 Book of the Year Awards, which recognize the best of independent publishing in over 60 categories. The book – which is a finalist in two categories, Ecology/Environment and Anthologies – will now be evaluated further by a panel of librarians and booksellers; winners will be announced at the American Library Association Annual Meeting in June.
For more on the awards and this year’s finalists, go to https://botya.forewordreviews.com/finalists/2013/press-release/?utm_source=ftw&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ftw-2014-03-13
For ForeWord’s FTC page, go to https://botya.forewordreviews.com/books/facing-the-change
Congratulations to all the contributors to FTC, and thanks to everyone for helping to spread the word!
In the wake of the “Transformation without Apocalypse” symposium at Oregon State University in February, a few tidbits:
Videos of the keynote speakers – including the likes of Ursula K. LeGuin, Tim DeChristopher, Kathleen Dean Moore, and others – are now available at the website of the Spring Creek Project: http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/centers-and-initiatives/spring-creek-project/publications-and-videos (the videos start halfway down the page)
At the symposium’s “Transformation Literature and Film Festival,” FTC contributors Kristin Berger, Willow Fagan, and Carla Wise, along with Stephen Siperstein of the U of Oregon, read from the anthology and their own work. Here are Kristin (left), Carla, and copies of the book in the company of other exalted titles (such as those of Kim Stanley Robinson). Thanks to Kristin for organizing FTC’s participation in the event, and to Grass Roots Books for making the books available!
Finally, as yet another example of “Facing the Change beyond FTC,” here’s one of his own poems Stephen Siperstein read at the event:
Thinking Like a Bear
Stooped among lowbush branches
We twist, pluck, and plop
Purple fruit into buckets.
My companion, six years old,
Turns to me, asks:
aaaaaAre there bears here?
aaaaaaaaaaShould we be scared?
No, I say,
aaaaaWe shouldn’t be scared.
aaaaa There are no bears, not here
(not anymore, I want to add, but don’t).
She seems relieved, but now I have got
aaaaaDark holes stretched across sea ice,
aaaaaPolar bears moving south,
aaaaaWalking on their soles—
aaaaaPine trees bulging with rust
aaaaaGrizzlies coming down
aaaaaFrom the mountains too early.
aaaaaWill she blame me
aaaaaFor a world with no bears?
aaaaaWill she remember
aaaaaWhat it feels like to be afraid
aaaaaOf something that can walk
aaaaaThrough the world like we do?
The thing is, I continue
(now determined for my own sake to sound wise)
aaaaaPeople are scared of bears but bears
aaaaa Are more scared of people.
Oh, she says and I feel worse, sorry to have said it,
Seeing her mind work over a hard idea
Like hands picking through small, un-ripe berries.
But then her voice, half certain–half question
Like a cool breeze off water
Waking me up to the morning:
aaaaaSo they must think we’re bears.