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The Essential View: New and Historic Nature Writers  

Maya Khosla “Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting,” wrote Robert Frost. The Essential View will bring new and historic nature writing to life, focusing on prose and poetry. We will engage in the joys of language, including works by historic nature writers including Loren Eiseley, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, as well as contemporary writers like Gretel Ehrlich, John McPhee, Annie Dillard, W.S. Merwin, Philip Levine, and Mary Oliver. We will analyze techniques that have been used to create compelling works devoted to the natural world and travel through nature together – on the page. Week 1: Historic Nature Writing: The Land Ethic is Born Week 2: Historic Nature Writing: Rebel on the Page Week 3: Historic Nature Writing: Early Nature Poetry Week 4: Contemporary Nature Writing: Travels into the Unknown Week 5: Contemporary Nature Writing: Writing for Change Week 6: Contemporary Nature Writing: Lyrical Poems. Maya Khosla is a writer and wildlife biologist whose work in the natural world is informed by years of field experience. She has taught in the villages of Nagaland, India, and across California, as well as workshops at Stanford. With awards from Patagonia, the Sacramento Audubon Society, Environment Now and Fund for Wild Nature, Maya documented forests of the Sierra Nevada-Cascades Mountain Region in film and photography across the state of California, including areas of Yosemite and Lassen National Parks, and national forest lands in Tahoe, Sierra, Stanislaus, Inyo, Plumas, and Lassen. The field work inspired many essays about forests of the region. Tapping the Fire, Turning the Steam, Web of Water, Heart of the Tearing (Poems), and Keel Bone (poems) are some of her written works. Her films, including her newest project “Searching for the Gold Spot: The Wild After Wildfire 2” is being shown through the end of the year. The class will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Readings will be provided and supplemental readings will be suggested.


  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
    Phone: (415) 817-4243 Website: