Joe Wilkins and Pam Houston Discuss Writing and Landscape


How does landscape affect the writing process? Can writing affect the landscape? Joe Wilkins and Pam Houston, both of whom are writers whose work has appeared in Orion and is vivified by nature, met in Boston in the spring, where they discussed the meaning of story and place and read briefly from their work. Their conversation was coordinated and recorded by Scott Temple of Quickbloom, who is at work on a documentary series about contemporary nature writing. Here’s Scott on his meeting with Joe and Pam.

I met Joe and Pam in Boston Common after a surprise spring snowfall. Their conversation is part of a larger documentary series I am working on called Wyld-Er-Ness, which explores how nature shapes the work of writers, artists, and activists. I began the series because I kept running into new questions in my own writing about honesty with regard to the natural world—with nature as a topic increasingly entrenched in melodrama, politics, and industry greenwash, something that’s a part of everyone’s lives began to seem too loaded to write about. So I asked today’s best nature writers and artists how they overcome creative barriers like this in their work. In this segment, Pam Houston and Joe Wilkins share their truths about presenting nature as a ‘flawed character,’ which is naked, raw, and vulnerable.

Scott Temple holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the North Carolina Arts Council.

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