Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 9, 2015

Nature Writing at Forbes Library

Earth and Cosmos: Nature Writing was the first in a series of readings at Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, organized by Naila Moreira, the new writer in residence. Five writers read short pieces. Katie Koerten who teaches at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, read from a series of columns regularly published in The Daily Hampshire Gazette, with some now collected in a book. Her essay was about learning to love nature with her father, and teaching children who climb trees, balance on logs, and touch and taste some plants. Biologist Elizabeth Farnsworth read about the micro-animal, water bears, an astonishing species who can withstand a wild variety of stresses, This strange, tiny creature that has survived so much can give us all hope.

Naila Moreira, who writes in several genres and teaches at Smith College, read about a personal encounter one winter night, showing how vulnerable we all are in nature, and yet how a storm may bring together strangers as if “in the center of a snow globe.” Jonathan Mingle read from Fire and Ice, which tells of adventures high in the Himalayas, and addresses climate change. Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, and currently a visiting writer at Smith College, read a piece about moon dust from her most recent book, The Planets.


Many mentioned the needs of quiet, patient observation, and its rewards. There was a little time for questions at the end, and when someone asked how they made science writing accessible, I particularly liked the reply of Elizabeth Farnsworth, who said, “As a scientist I’m like a kid, curious about everything. So one way to get past stereotypes is to tap into that sense, that science is just plain fun.”

Upcoming topics in the series include health and medicine, telling stories through photography, graphic novels, and writing about disability, all free and open to the public.


  1. How wonderful!!

  2. I like how curiosity is the term used to describe science. I guess it is valid in life and writing as well! Sounds like you have attended a great inspiring reading!

    • It’s great when we can maintain curiosity and let that propel us. Wishing you best for your launch season — and some moments of curiosity, too.

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