Right now I’m reading PULPHEAD by John Jeremiah Sullivan, a collection of personal essays about public things, like a Christian music festival, a post-Katrina Red Cross shelter, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, and that’s as far as I’ve got. He wrote a good memoir, too, called BLOOD HORSES, about his relationship with his father and our relationship with horses. It’s beautiful and haunting, and reveals something both new and old about these sturdy-fragile creatures that we’ve harnessed to do our terrible bidding. And by that I mean fathers.
Also holding down the bedside table: Cheryl Strayed’s WILD with its sad-shoe cover, HOW IT ALL BEGAN by the nicely-named Penelope Lively, and BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticott, in which the list of titles alone reads like a found poem: What Broke My Father’s Heart, Beds, After the Ice, Grieving, There are Things Awry Here, Patient, Magical Dinners, Topic of Cancer, The Washing, and Unprepared.
Finally, the last sliver of A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD by E. H. Gombrich, which I’ve been working on all winter. Ostensibly written for children, it’s a lucid and gripping account of our history “from the stone age to the atomic bomb.” I’m as far as Peter the Great, of whom the author said, “He was not a nice man, but he achieved what he wanted.”
Beyond the Extremes: Contemporary Narratives of Exploration
We’ve charted most every inch of the planet. What’s next?
The “age of exploration” is long past. We’ve charted most every inch of the planet, So what’s left to explore?
It seems we’re no longer sending men and women into space, and even if you make it to the arctic or the top of Mount Everest you’re sure to have cell phone service. Well, at least you can tweet about it.
Maybe the novelty and romanticism of exploring the unknown no longer exists. But some modern day “explorers” are still getting excited about going “beyond the extremes” — today we hear from a panel hosted by WNPR and Drunken Boat, international online journal of the arts, last week at the University of Hartford on “Contemporary Narratives of Exploration”
We were joined by modern day explorers looking at land, sea and space. And we’ll explore the intersection of exploration and art.
** Audio Extra: Clare Rossini reads several poems on Joseph Banks
Opening remarks by Ravi Shankar:
First, it’s Avital Ronell’s new book Loser Sons, which just came out, and is fabulous—a really serious look at authority, how it gets established and maintained, incorporating a history of childhood and the connections of both and all to Kafka, Kojève, Arendt, and many others. Ronell is brilliant at revealing intricate interconnections and their subterranean pathways. And doing so with amazing style. She’s the most fun philosopher writing today—someone who loves sculpting language, working it as a tight, compressed, and attitudinally explosive material.
And I’m reading Jean-Christophe Bailly’s The Animal Side, Catherine Porter’s beautiful translation of Bailly’s Le versant animal. It’s a really important contribution to the theoretical/critical re-examination of the human-as-animal and our relation to non-human animals that has been raging over the past ten years. Bailly’s consideration is distinctly poetic in that it’s open both in statement and in style—“we have to force ourselves to remain on a threshold that precedes all interpretation.” It’s a deeply opening book in every way that phrase can be taken.
And I’m reading Stacy Doris’s Fledge—gorgeous! Very slippery, and very soft. It has a sweetness to it that’s just heart-breaking. And a lot of humor. “Formerly we combed owls.” It covers such range, and yet also has a distinct intimacy; the reader feels directly spoken to, swept in, gathered up, held.
The Hartford Consortium for Higher Education in collaboration with WNPR and Drunken Boat [drunkenboat.com], international online journal of the arts, invites you to a panel on “Beyond the Extremes: Contemporary Narratives of Exploration” moderated by radio personality John Dankosky for “Where We Live,” introduced by CCSU poet-in-residence and Drunken Boat Executive Director Ravi Shankar, and featuring snow leopard conservator and Himalayan anthropologist Shafqat Hussain, visual artist and expeditioner Adriane Colburn, University of Hartford historian Michael Robinson, Director of Trinity’s InterArts Program and poet, Clare Rossini, and Coordinator of Maritime Studies at UConn-Avery Point, Helen Rozwadowski.
Come learn about the history of exploration, see tools of the trade, and discuss what new frontiers exist for us to discover in the new millennium.
Where: University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium, Harry Jack Gray Center, 200 Bloomfield Avenue (Route 189), West Hartford, CT 06117
When: Thursday, May 3rd from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Contact: Michael Robinson, [email@example.com], (860) 768-5951
Refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public.
San Francisco based artist, Adriane Colburn has spent the past several years traveling on expeditions with scientists who study climate change in remote terrains, such as the Arctic and the Amazon. Adriane’s recent work consists of large-scale installations (comprised of layers of hand cut paper, digital prints, video and projected light) that investigate the complex relationships between human infrastructure, earth systems, technology and the natural world. These works, derived from scientific data, images and video, look at how mapping is used to investigate fragile and inaccessible ecosystems along the edges of the Earth’s last vestiges of wilderness. More information: www.adrianecolburn.com<http://www.adrianecolburn.com/>
John Dankosky has been working in radio – mostly public radio – for 21 years. Since coming to Connecticut in 1994, he’s helped to build WNPR’s award-winning newsroom – cultivating one of the most talented news staffs in public radio. He has reported for National Public Radio on presidential elections, crime, education, drug abuse, immigration and more. He’s edited award-winning documentaries on Connecticut history, 9/11, and the mental health of children, and has been involved in editorial planning for Public Radio News Directors, Inc., The Public Radio Exchange, and NPR’s Local News Initiative. He’s won awards for reporting, hosting Where We Live, and “overall station excellence” from the AP.
Shafqat Hussain is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. Shafqat obtained a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Yale University, USA. He is from Pakistan and has worked in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. His PhD research was a historical ethnography of Hunza region in northern Pakistani, focusing on Victorian explorers’ encounters with local people during the era of the Great Game in the 19th c. Shafqat has also designed and initiated an innovative project for snow leopard conservation in northern Pakistan. In 2009, Shafqat won the National Geographic Emerging Explorer award for his work in the region.
Michael Robinson is an associate professor of history at the University of Hartford. He is the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006) which won the Forum for the History of Science in America Prize in 2008 and received positive reviews from the Times Literary Supplement and other journals. He has given lectures on exploration at the Explorers Club, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History, and NASA Headquarters. He speaks frequently to the media on matters of exploration including The Associated Press, USA Today, Pravda, NPR, and PBS. He writes a blog about science, history, and exploration at Time to Eat the Dogs which has received awards from Research Blogging, Tripbase Reviews, and Raveable.Com.
Clare Rossini is the author of three collections of poetry: Lingo (The University of Akron Press, 2006); Winter Morning with Crow (University of Akron Press 1997), chosen by Donald Justice for the Akron Poetry Prize and one of two finalists for PEN’s first Joyce Osterweil Award; and Selections from the Claudia Poems (Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, 1996), an art book edition. Her poems and essays have appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, including Poetry, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Poets for a New Century, and the Best American Poetry. At Trinity, she serves as Director of Trinity’s InterArts Program teaches creative writing courses for the Department of English. Her scholarly interests include English, American, and world poetry; the imagination of place and eco-criticism; the history of science; folklore and folktales; the community cultural development movement; and community-based learning. She is currently working on a fourth book of poetry whose subjects include late-medieval science and global warming.
Helen Rozwadowski is an associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut and coordinates the Maritime Studies program at shoreside the Avery Point campus. Her teaching includes environmental history and history of science, as well as interdisciplinary maritime studies courses. She is currently researching undersea exploration in the 1960s, a time when ocean boosters had optimistic dreams for working and living in the sea. Her work considers ocean exploration as a category of exploration of extreme environments including outer space and the polar regions. She is currently guest curator for an upcoming exhibit at Mystic Seaport titled “Sinister Seas.” Her award-winning book, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea, is a scientific and cultural history of 19th-century interest in the ocean, manifested in maritime novels, in the popular hobby of marine zoology, in the youthful sport of yachting, and in the laying of a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.
Ravi Shankar is the founding editor and Executive Director of Drunken Boat [http://www.drunkenboat.com], one of the world’s oldest online journal of the arts, and chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust. He has published or edited seven books or chapbooks of poems, including the National Poetry Review prize winning “Deepening Groove,” and W.W. Norton’s “Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond,” called “a beautiful achievement for world literature,” by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has won a Pushcart Prize, appeared on the BBC and NPR, been featured in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and has performed his work around the world. He is currently an Associate Professor of English at CCSU.