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Nature & Memory: Lisa Wells and Helen Macdonald

Nature & Memory: Lisa Wells and Helen Macdonald

Wednesday, August 04, 2021 - 06:00PM ET
Event Location: 
Online

Blending memoir and nature writing, Helen Macdonald (Vesper Flights) and Lisa Wells (Believers) discuss their books, human experience, and a natural world threatened by climate change.

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World

In search of answers and action, award-winning poet and essayist Lisa Wells brings us Believers, introducing trailblazers and outliers from across the globe who have found radically new ways to live and reconnect to the Earth in the face of climate change.

We find ourselves at the end of the world; how then shall we live?

Like many of us, Lisa Wells has spent years overwhelmed by news of apocalyptic-scale climate change and a coming sixth extinction. She did not need to be convinced of the stakes. But what can be done? Wells embarked on a pilgrimage, seeking answers in dedicated communities—outcasts and visionaries—on the margins of society.

Lisa Wells is a poet and nonfiction writer from Portland, Oregon. Her debut collection of poetry, The Fix, won the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have been published by The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, The Believer, n+1, The Iowa Review, The Poetry Foundation, and others. She lives in Seattle and is an editor for The Volta and Letter Machine Editions.

Vesper Flights

Animals don't exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

In Vesper Flights, Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.

Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.

By one of this century's most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, naturalist and historian of science. Her book H is for Hawk won many prizes, including the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Costa Book of the Year, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in France, and in the US was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine, and lives in Suffolk.