Books by Alison Hawthorne Deming

ZOOLOGIES by Alison Hawthorne Deming
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"Eloquent, sensitive and astute."
An award-winning essayist and poet contemplates the disappearance of the Earth's creatures and asks, "[w]hat do animals mean to the contemporary imagination?" Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 30, 1998

Poet Deming (Temporary Homelands, 1994) heads selectively for sundry outbacks in the hope of tapping wisdom from them on the prospects for our wild and open lands. What is this thing we call civilization, she wonders, and how may it alter the fate of the earth? Is civilization basically an expression of optimism? Or is it mainly a destructive power? And can art—most notably poetry, for Deming a bastion of the "local, peculiar, off-kilter and half seen"—help to resolve so unwieldy a matter as the terms of our existence? To probe these not exactly petite questions, Deming stakes out patches on the wild and fragile edges of civilization—along the Sea of Cortez, in southern Mexico, on Hawaii—fault lines "where pressure constantly builds, where the impingement of economic necessity abrades against nature." These are places "rich in life forms and survival strategies." Said strategies often involve one of Deming's nemeses: tourism, eco and otherwise. The author views tourism variously as a form of neocolonialism, forcing locals to serve outsiders— whims and desires; as a path leading away from resource destruction and toward global economic integration; as a fusion of each. While sojourning in her chosen outposts, she takes the measure of their gestalt. Deming's verbal big pictures can also include a glimpse of the spirit passing across the land, most easily grasped when she has come upon a sacred place that calls on all her senses. A writer of skillful means and economy, Deming doesn't enter such terrain lightly, nor does she trifle with it: —What I am calling for is an ecology of culture in which we look for and foster our relatedness across disciplinary lines without forgetting our differences." (Author tour) Read full book review >
TEMPORARY HOMELANDS by Alison Hawthorne Deming
Released: Aug. 8, 1994

Elegant essays that seek to understand rather than define our relationships with nature and the places we call home, by an award- winning poet and director of the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. In 12 essays that are set in four ``loved places''—Grand Manan, a remote Canadian island; the woods of her Connecticut childhood; southern Alaska; and the Arizona desert—Deming explores ``the quality of reflection that these places seem to induce.'' And as she evokes these disparate locales, she skillfully includes vivid descriptions of local flora and fauna, autobiographical details, observations on humans' relationship with nature, as well as meditations on life, death, and the writing of poems. Each place has been a way station in her life, most notably Grand Manan, which she first visited as a child when her frugal Yankee father, concluding that Nantucket was becoming too expensive, found in this remote island, reachable only by a decrepit sling-and-winch ferry, the happy mix of beauty, relaxation, and cheapness he sought. Deming, who has returned there every subsequent summer, observes that ``it takes years to properly visit [a] know where the wild blueberries ripen notice a silly gull.'' As she describes the woods of her childhood, she recalls the conflicting reactions of her Puritan ancestors (she is a descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne's) to the wilderness that surrounded them, her father's painful last illness, and her experiences as a single mother homesteading in rural Vermont. The essays set in Arizona and Alaska are more conventional accounts of, respectively, lingering traces of early Native Americans like the Ansazi and an Alaskan program that rehabilitates injured bald eagles. But even these more familiar topics are infused with Deming's sagacious insights. Nature writing that refreshingly manages to educate, entertain, and move without once resorting to the bully pulpit. Read full book review >