Two Summer Publications: Camas & Pidgeonholes

POINT COUNTS AND SHIFTING BASELINES
in Camas Magazine

Photograph of the magazine cover with a painting of a Joshua Tree against a bright blue background.

Can we celebrate the wild just beyond the doorstep without conflating it with the wildness of places far from any doors? If we expect the wild to adapt to our cities and our lifestyles, where do we adapt to theirs. We must leave space and silence and open places for them to build their own nests, make their own paths through the desert, and communicate with each other in whisper songs.

Purchase the issue to read in full

THE FIRST TIME in Pidgeonholes

“He sounds like one of the mice that live in the house I will move to the first time I try to leave him, the ones I will set hard metal traps for in the kitchen. I will hear the bitter snap and squeak of them at night when I try to fall asleep but instead replay a recent conversation in which he tells me I am easy to love.”

Read the full piece online

Image of a gray concrete building with a white curtain blowing out of an open window. Over this image is the following text: Nonfiction. THE FIRST TIME by Nell Smith.

Words Matter in #SciComm

I had a great time talking with Ashley Piccone from Wyoming Public Radio about the importance of word choice in science communication. Meaning is shaped at multiple levels within the communication process, even in the definitions of single commonly-used words. Being more attentive to word choice helps us think more deeply about how we can prevent misunderstandings, build trust, and meaningfully connect with people.

Listen to the WPR story here and then check out the original article that I co-authored with Bethann Merkle in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America.

Publication: Meaning‐Making in Science Communication: A Case for Precision in Word Choice

“To be effective communicators we must have a deeper appreciation for how language and ideas are reshaped in context”

Read the full article on the importance of word choice in science communication in Issue 102 of Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America.

New Publication: What Happened on December 21st, 2019: A Retrospective

New words up today on Essay Daily!

…I had been working on an essay about fragments: fragments of bone, fragments of light, and what the space between these fragments can embody. I’m learning to pay attention to these spaces. A lot can happen in the subtext, in the distance between things, in the space of what is left out, in the time between December 21st and March 16th…

Read the full essay

New Publications: Lunar Eclipse off Exit 88 & What Gould’s Magpie Has Stolen

Two poems up now in the latest issue of Minding Naturea publication from the Center for Humans & Nature.

Spring_Cover_MindingNature_May19_v7-cover3
Cover Art by Courtney Mattison

LUNAR ECLIPSE OFF EXIT 88

Somewhere in Oklahoma,
speeding through scrubby darkness,
we pulled off the highway on Exit 88…

Read the full poem

WHAT GOULD’S MAGPIE HAS STOLEN

For its feathers, the prism of light
that broke its blacks into iridescence…

Read the full poem

New Publication: Tidal Desert

Published this week in the lovely Winter issue of Hawk & Whippoorwill

TIDAL DESERT

…Because I could descend
in the chasm of dissolution
between the layers of sandstone
to where life is pressed like petals,

I began to sense the land’ s lungs
beneath the soil, see the hardness of the desert
and understand that here,
life is not to be presumed…

continue reading

New Publication: Ode to a Rock Dove

Published this month in Entropy‘s “The Birds” series

ODE TO A ROCK DOVE
—For JPD

You’re right.
A blackbird taken apart
by a raptor is not the same

as the nestling pigeon,
wet from rain,
run into the

clogged freeway
by slavish,
hulking cars.

And of course it was a pigeon—
rat-of-the-sky,
pest,
dirty dirty bird—

call it
what they will,
you wish the authorities

would restore its name to dove,
dove, with all the potential
of cliches.

For isn’t that part of it?
We are a nation
in love with the idea

of pulling oneself up
by the bootstraps,
even as we call them pigeons,

even as we crush their bodies
as we inch forward dumbly
in our commute of tedium.

This ode is to the bird
that hadn’t yet grown feathers
with which to rescue itself

(and was given
no second chances)
so join me, reader,

with the same empathy
extended to the underdog,
and imagine its life if lived:

Imagine the search
for cold fries under a table
in pursuit of sustenance and survival

Imagine the spin and flash
of emerald and royal purple
in the drive to mate and remake

Imagine the power
of full-fledged wings
in the rush of rising up

up above traffic
up above streets
up above city

to look down on all of us.

Download the poem

New Publication: Grafting

Published in the Spring/Summer issue of the Aurorean

 

GRAFTING

Among high ponderosas in Arizona,

I remember Maine’s white pines—

how after climbing them,

their clear sap drew pieces of that homeland

straight into my hands….

 

Read the full poem by subscribing/ordering from the Aurorean.