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Driving Speedway Boulevard: A Case Study of the Made World

When Sep 08, 2003
from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium
Contact Name
Contact Phone 8148635911
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Event photoAlison Hawthorne Deming

Poet and Essayist, Professor of Creative Writing, University of Arizona

Alison Hawthorne Deming was born and grew up in Connecticut. She is the author of Science and Other Poems(LSU Press, 1994), selected by Gerald Stern for the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. The book was listed among the Washington Post’s Favorite Books of 1994 and Bloomsbury Review’s Best Poetry books of the past fifteen years. The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence was published by LSU in 1997, and a new poetry collectionGenius Loci is forthcoming. Deming has also published three nonfiction books: Temporary Homelands (cloth, Mercury House 1994; paper, Picador USA 1996); The Edges of the Civilized World (Picador USA 1998) which was a finalist for the PEN Center West Award; and Writing the Sacred into the Real (Milkweed Editions 2001, Credo Series: Notable American Writers on Nature, Community and the Writer Life); edited Poetry of the American West: A Columbia Anthology(Columbia University Press, 1996, cloth; 1999, paper); and co-edited with Lauret E. Savoy The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity and the Natural World (Milkweed 2002); and published the limited edition chapbooks Girls in Jungle: What Does It Take for a Woman To Survive in the Arts (Kore Press 1995); andAnatomy of Desire: The Daughter/Mother Sessions (Kore 2000), a collaboration with her daughter, the painter Lucinda Bliss. Deming received an MFA from Vermont College in 1983 and had a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University in 1987-88. Her writing has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod, a Pushcart Prize, and the Bayer Award in science writing from Creative Nonfiction for the essay “Poetry and Science: A View from the Divide.” She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and lives in Tucson.

Re-Culturing the Land: Writers of Color on Nature and the Wild

If the ecological crisis is a crisis for all creatures, human and otherwise, why is it that the voices of resistance to the devastation of the natural world are so monochromatic? American literature during the past quarter century has become richly diversified, while American nature writing—and the environmental movement—have remained in general overwhelmingly white. Indigenous ethnobotanist Enrique Salmon writes that "relationships with places are generated from and enhanced through cultural histories, stories and songs." This lecture will explore the work of three writers who redefine, through a cultural lens, what we talk about when we talk about nature: Yusef Komunyakaa on environmental justice in his homeplace of Bogalusa, Louisiana; Gary Paul Nabhan on "Arab Voices Connecting Place and Peace;" and Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele on Native sovereignty on the Hawaiian island of Kaho'olawe.

September 10, 2003
7:00 p.m.
Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library

Driving Speedway Boulevard: A Case Study of the Made World

In the 1950s Life Magazine dubbed Speedway Boulevard in Tucson "the ugliest road in America." Since that time it has had a lot of competition, but this east-west artery through the heart of the city remains a terror of pell-mell velocity and ferocious consumerism, redeemed as a landscape only by the uplifting vistas of mountain ranges rising in four directions, a gift of the basin and range topography that predates the manic human occupation of the desert. When seeking a case study for examining how contemporary American culture shapes the landscape and how that landscape shapes our culture, I decided to start where I live and explore the features of the urban environment that trigger an emotional response in me. The premise of my investigation was that positive emotional responses to landscape were echoes of the adaptive strategies of my hominid forebears. "In all organisms," write evolutionary researchers Gordon Orians and Judith Heerwagen, "habitat selection presumably involves emotional responses to key features of the environment." Hence, "the Savanna Hypothesis," suggests that our human affection for features of the tropical savannah (small groves of trees, low grassy ground cover, and distant views) is a genetic memory that this is the right place for our kind to thrive. Of course most human beings now live in conditions very different from those in which the species evolved. I wanted to know what my personal, emotional map of Speedway Boulevard had to tell me about the meaning of place in my life. And so I set off on an early May morning under thin wisps of cloud, the Catalinas still rosy from dawn, beginning in the east where the cougars and rattlesnakes and javelinas still claim a portion of the desert for their own.

September 8, 2003
7:00 p.m.
Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library