Wednesday, May 27, 2009

creative practice: reading and landscape

Landscape and creative practice -- how the two interact is a subject that comes up often here along the music road. Recently, I’ve been reading A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, in which author Tony Horwitz sets out to learn about people from Europe who came to America before Columbus, what they did, what happened to them, and how the landscapes where they traveled look today. Having a classical education in history and the arts, and, I discovered, growing up and traveling in the American south and southwest meant that most of what Horwitz discovered was familiar ground to me. Still, his mix of history, travel, and reflection is worth the read, and his extensive notes on sources (including a 'highlight reel' of the best ones) have given me new books to explore.

Landscape, this time of Vermont and of the world, is what informs scientist Amy Seidl’s Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World. So do the perspectives of her young children. I’ve just started this, but so far Seidl reminds me of a gentler version of Scottish poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

I’ve just recently re read Heaven and Earth (Three Sisters Island Trilogy). Nora Roberts knows how to tell a story, and to set a scene. Most of her books don’t do anything for me in terms of plot, however and take me about three pages to decide I've no need to read futher. This series, though, set on an island off the coast of Maine, gets setting and character and plot just right, for my taste. The main character, police deputy Ripley Todd, is a woman who sometimes strugggles with her gifts and with her demons, but faces them anyway, in a far from ordinary plot.

I’ve also been re reading Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters--and How to Talk About It by Krista Tippett. Tippett is the host of American Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith, and one of the most interesting thinkers around today, Of course I don’t agree with all her perspectives, but those I don’t share are as interesting as those I do. Though I'm not sure she always intended it, landscape plays a strong part in Tippett's reflections, too.

Monica Bhide is a storyteller, one who tells her stories through narrative and through recipe. That’s a major reason why I’ve been enjoying her book Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen. I had the chance to speak with Bhide a bit about that, and that’ll form the basis for an upcoming article over at Wandering Educators.

Lately, I’vee been listening quite a bit to Matt and Shannon Heaton’s new album Lovers' Well. Look forward to more about that here ahead along the music road, and also there’s an extended review of the album in the current issue of the music magazine Dirty Linen. The Heatons have chosen music from the Irish tradition which illuminates many aspects of the landscapes of the heart's journey, often in unexpected ways.

you may also want to see
Songs for an Easter weekend

Music Road: Matt & Shannon Heaton: Fine Winter's Night concert

Music Road: Irish music, Irish landscape

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous JessieV said...

brava, kerry! i love thinking about literal and creative landscapes, and how they intersect. thanks for the great reading and listening lists!

9:56 AM  

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