EON – Recommended Texts and Their Recommenders

Rather than selecting a single text around which to focus discussion (as we did in 2011 with Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s “now let us shift . . . the path of conocimiento . . . inner work, public acts”), for Embodying Our Nature we are inviting participants to share texts (poetry, prose, music, art) that speak to them about the theme.  Our hope is to promote and encourage conversation both during and beyond the event, including the HerStories blog and Facebook.  Already there is no shortage of texts, and we would encourage everybody to be active in reading, responding to, and thinking about this year’s theme, engaging in conversation at whatever level you feel comfortable.

Below you will find a listing of and selections from texts from this year’s participants.  Feel free to add to it in the “comments” section or to request that it be posted separately.

From Jerri Courtney, a selection from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.


I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass.


Houses and rooms are full of perfumes . . . . the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume . . . . it has no taste of the distillation . . . . it is
It is for my mouth forever . . . . I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


The smoke of my own breath,
Echos, ripples, and buzzed whispers . . . . loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration . . . . the beating of my heart . . . . the passing of blood
and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and darkcolored sea-
rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice . . . . words loosed to the eddies of
the wind,
A few light kisses . . . . a few embraces . . . . a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hillsides,
The feeling of health . . . . the full-noon trill . . . . the song of me rising from bed
and meeting the sun.

This is the online text of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. It is made available by the Walt Whitman Archive. One can even view the passage on its original page from the original book (page 14) by click on the page above the text at the following http://whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1855/whole.html.

From Dawn Comer, Joy Harjo’s “Eagle Poem”  

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadly growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.
From Dawn Comer, Mary Oliver’s “Mindful” 

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

From Dawn Comer, Bruce Cockburn and Annabelle Chvostek’s “Driving Away” (song) – 

The dichotomy of being a sentient being
driving away, driving away

Angel in the heart lost out this time
driving away, driving away

The calamity of seeing, and fleeing the night
driving away, blue as the night

Driving away, blue as the night
mustang, lizard, mud and light
blood and diamonds, fight or flight

The picture of the world that’s coming clear
driving away, driving away

The things you never thought your ears would hear
driving away, driving away

The ashes of a heart drift past the lights
driving away, blue as the night

Driving away
Blue as the night
Mustang, lizard, mud and light
Blood and diamond, flight or flight

From Rachel Baker

“Mary Oliver’s poetry is a wonderful, beautiful celebration of nature, in the physical outdoors/spiritual sense. Also, some of Barbara Kingsolver’s environmentally focused non-fiction sticks with me.

I love, love, love that we are already allowing our weekend’s theme to take on such a porous meaning. I am eager to explore with you!”

Terry Tempest Williams interview from On Being:  http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/vitality-of-struggle/

“There are a large number of shows available that would fit with any of the aspects of our chosen ‘Embodying our Nature’ theme. I encourage you all to check them out.”

From Christine Wilson

“A lot of Terry Tempest Williams’ work, as well as Gretel Ehrlich’s directly address women, nature, embodiment, and writing.  It strikes me, too, that some theoretical work by ecofeminists might be interesting in this context.”

From Bethany Styer

I second the nominations of Mary Oliver and Barbara Kingsolver and add Wendell Berry for some of his finely tuned observations of nature particularly in regard to agriculture.

A special note about On Being
Rachel Baker’s recommendation of the NPR program On Being as a valuable source for programs exploring this year’s theme is one that I heartily second.  In fact, it’s hard to think of programs that don’t in some way connect with our theme.  A few that immediately spring to my mind include:

“The Body’s Grace:  Matthew Sanford’s Story” 

“The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi”

“Fishing with Mystery” (James Prosek)

“The Vitality of the Struggle” (Terry Tempest Williams)

“Planting the Future with Wangarai Maathai”

“The Wisdom of Tenderness” (Jean Vanier)






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