Nature and ecology writing workshops Saturday at UPEI

Journal Pioneer staff
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CHARLOTTETOWN – Don Gayton, ecologist and award-winning nature and science writer, is writer-in-residence at UPEI this week of Feb.3-8. He is being hosted by the English Department and Environmental Studies Program, with funding from The Canada Council for the Arts.

"Okanagan Odyssey" is just one of many books written by nature and science writer, Don Gayton.

He gave a public reading from his recent writings on Thursday in the Confederation Centre Public Library.

Gayton will also give two writing workshops open to the general public on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the UPEI Faculty Lounge, main building. Entitled "Nature Writing: Where do we go from here?" the session runs form 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

"Nature writing traces back to Thoreau, the classical Greek writers and even beyond, but now it stands at a historic crossroads," said Gayton. "Contemplation and oneness with nature are hallmarks of the genre, a mindset now at odds with our deepening environmental crises. Does nature writing now become a literature of protest, or of despair? In this interactive workshop, we will explore future directions for nature writers."

In the second workshop "Ecology as Literature," from 1 to 3 p.m., Gayton will discuss how writers have often turned to science for ideas and metaphors. The young science of ecology has increasing relevance to literature, he notes.

"Ecology embraces ambiguity, multiple states of being, and reciprocity between humans and nature. The practice of ecological restoration incorporates spirituality with science."

Gayton will open up some of the concepts and paradoxes of ecology as new material for writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Workshop fees are $25 for one workshop or $35 for both, and $15 or $25 for students and P.E.I. Writers' Guild members. For further information about his workshops and reading, and to register for workshops, contact the English department at 566-0389 or       

Stuart McLean, radio broadcaster, humourist, and author says "Don Gayton has the eye of a scientist and the soul of a poet."

Gayton writes in his website, "As a reader, fiction has always been my first love, followed closely by scientific journals. So as a writer, I like to threaten the fortified boundaries of non-fiction, shouting and waving my arms. More and more I gravitate to story as our primal form of communication."

He also writes "Science is the undiscovered country of the literary imagination."

Gayton is the recipient of the U.S. National Outdoor Book Award, the Canadian Science Writers Award, and the Peace Corps Travel Book Award. His books include "The Wheatgrass Mechanism," "Interwoven Wild," "Okanagan Odyssey," and "Man Facing West." His articles have appeared in Canadian Geographic, Equinox, Journal of Ecosystems and Management, among others. He is currently working on a historical novel set in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley, where he tends his Yippe Calle Vineyard.

Organizations: Confederation Centre Public Library, Peace Corps

Geographic location: U.S., Pacific Northwest, B.C. Okanagan Valley

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