Chatham seminar focuses on nature, environmental writing

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Five writers whose work focuses on the environment will lead a day-long program Saturday at Chatham University that highlights the school's graduate writing program.

"Chatham's MFA [master of fine arts] program is one of only two in the country that has a focus on nature and environmental writing. ... We try to do something every year that deepens and enlarges students' engagement with the physical world," explained Sheryl St. Germain, director of the program, in an e-mail last week.

The theme this year is "Bridges to Other Worlds: Imagining Nature." The program will feature panel presentations, group discussions and readings and book signings by the writers.

Ms. St. Germain described the participants:

James Cahalan is "a noted scholar who has written an award-winning biography of Edward Abbey ("Edward Abbey: A Life," in 2001), a writer whose words and actions have had a huge effect on contemporary nature writers." He is professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Ian Marshall, a professor of English and environmental studies at Penn State University's Altoona branch, "works in a field of ecocriticism (literary scholarship informed by ecological awareness)." His book "Story Line: Exploring the Literature of the Appalachian Trail" discusses nature issues in Pennsylvania.

Todd Davis is author of three books of poetry and six scholarly books, including "Some Heaven," and "brings an intense love for the land to his work."

Kate Miles is a "young creative nonfiction writer" who has a new book, "Adventures With Ari: A Puppy, A Leash and Our Year Outdoors." She "is a new breed of nature writer whose works are both informative and entertaining, serious and funny."

BK Loren is an "independent writer who brings the perspective of the West Coast to her nonfiction and fiction writing." Her book, "The Way of the River: Adventures and Mediations of a Woman Martial Artist," is a memoir presented as a series of essays about her life in the martial arts.

"Bridges to Other Worlds" will run from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Mellon Board Room on Chatham's Shadyside campus. The event is free. Information: or 412-365-1190.

Megan Roth: or 412-263-1944.


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