Bothe Lecture features poet and lyric essayist

March 09, 2009

Award-winning author and professor Barbara Hurd presents “What We Talk About When We Talk about Nature," insights and readings from her work, during McDaniel’s 2009 Bothe Lecture at 7:30 p.m. March 26 on campus in McDaniel Lounge.

Author of three books of essays and two of poetry, Hurd’s interests are primarily, but not exclusively, in writing about the natural world and the lyric essay.

“I’m interested in writing about the natural world as a way of enlarging both consciousness and context—not just of ourselves but of our environment,” she says. “In the face of our current environmental crisis, what we need is communal reciprocity, which is deepened and fine-tuned by proximity to the other and by acts of imagination.”

These ideas are reflected in her most recent book, “Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains” (2008) as well as “Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark,” a Library Journal Best Natural History Book of the Year (2003); “The Singer's Temple” (2003); “Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination,” a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001, and “Objects in the Mirror” (1994).

“Hurd's style – precise, elegant, spare – fosters a sensitivity to the world around us, teaching us to look more closely and open ourselves up to surprise,” said Kathryn Dobson, assistant professor of English at McDaniel. “For young writers, Hurd offers a model of the vibrancy of the physical world, even the very ugly spider crab or the tiny, intricate, and carnivorous moon snail.”

Her work has won critical acclaim and earned her a 2002 NEA Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, the Sierra Club’s National Nature Writing Award and Pushcart Prizes in 2004 and 2007.

Most recently, National Public Radio host Alan Cheuse said, “There's scarcely anyone writing better about the natural world than Barbara Hurd. In her book, ‘Walking the Wrack Line,’ Hurd turns her spare prose and lyrical powers of observation to shingle beaches, spider crabs, jellyfish, dead sailors and such landlocked matters as why Franz Schubert never finished his Symphony in B Minor, known as the Unfinished Symphony.”

Deeming her writing “pithy and gorgeously written,…” The Boston Globe writes that “…. Hurd is magnificent at translating the world into words, in witnessing some small incident on a beach—coming upon the dark impression a melted iceberg has left in the sand on an Alaskan shoreline, for example—and spiraling it out into a sustained series of questions about impermanence.”

Hurd has taught creative writing – poetry and nonfiction – and environmental literature at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md., since 1985 and in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She earned a B.A. at the College of William and Mary, an Frostburg State University and an Ed.D. at the University of Maryland.

“Walking the Wrack Line” and “Entering the Stone” are available for purchase in the McDaniel College Bookstore and in McDaniel Lounge before and after the reading.

The reading is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410-857-2294.