Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nature Writer Presents 'Urban Animals Unveiled' at Washington College

Chestertown, MD — Author Lisa Couturier, hailed by Booklist as "an artist at discovering little bits of Nature in the city," will present "Urban Animals Unveiled" at Washington College's Casey Academic Center Forum on Tuesday, April 14, at 4:30 p.m.

The lecture is presented by the Sophie Kerr Committee and the Center for Environment & Society.

Couturier worked as an environmental journalist and as a magazine editor while living in Manhattan for nearly 15 years, during which time she traveled to remote parts of South America, Central America and Southeast Asia. Her work has appeared in the well-regarded "American Nature Writing" series, in National Geographic's Heart of a Nation: Writers and Photographers Inspired by the American Landscape, in the PBS series "Writers Writing," and in other anthologies and magazines.

Couturier's new book, The Hopes of Snakes: And Other Tales from the Urban Landscape is testament to her lifelong passion for urban nature and to the human desire to cherish, and hold close, the non-human world that is alive and quietly thriving in our developed landscapes.

The naturalist has lived her entire life along the Northeast Corridor of the United States: the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the City of New York and the outskirts of Boston. "My life, my engagement with urban wildlife and my ideas about what is wild," she said, "were birthed in these most densely urbanized landscapes of the U.S."

It is predicted that an astonishing 80 percent of the population of the United States will live in cities in the year 2010. "This means our urban and suburban landscapes will need to be re-envisioned as the primary places to sustain our passion for wildlife," said Couturier.

"Open, undeveloped space is essential, critical to wildlife. But I feel the need to celebrate, also, the beaver living on the city line, the urban falcon or other urban creatures who are both a gift from the wilder world as well as a reminder that, somehow, we ultimately must not fail that wilder place."

In praise of The Hopes of Snakes, renowned poet Mary Oliver wrote that Couturier's "essays shine with her candor, her perception and her affection for the creatures of our world," while Publishers Weekly enthused, "She makes a convincing case that a suburban woman with a toddler can have as viable a relationship with the wild as an intrepid backpacker; she does not so much domesticate the wilderness as reveal the wildness within the domestic."

Admission to "Urban Animals Unveiled" is free and open to the public.

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