Earth & Eros: A Celebration in Words and Photographs
Lorraine Anderson, a former resident of Davis, will share a multimedia presentation of her new book, Earth and Eros: A Celebration in Words and Photographs. Over the last twelve years, Lorraine has gathered vivid sensual writing about people in relation to nature – short poems and prose pieces by nearly seventy writers – and paired the words with evocative nature photographs by Bruce Hodge to create this book. The one-hour program begins at 7:30 pm at the Village Homes Community Center (2661 Portage Bay East) on Saturday, May 7th. Cool Davis is hosting the reading. Donations are appreciated at the door. Sign-up to attend here.
In the preface to Earth & Eros, Anderson promises, “Simply by opening our senses and feeling ourselves to be part of the natural world around us, we can begin to heal, to regain wholeness, to take communion.”
Her presentation is a perfect way to complete the joyful, sometimes boisterous energy of the Whole Earth Festival on campus earlier that day with a deep and rich experience. Her readings will offer a powerful testament to the connection between pleasure, desire, and the health of our bodies and the earth.
Award-winning Davis author Kim Stanley Robinson, Anderson’s friend and one-time neighbor, wrote of her book, “A masterpiece of discovery and juxtaposition. Reading the beautiful and thought-provoking text alongside photos as glossy and dense as reality feels like waking up, like remembering.”
“…Reading the beautiful and thought-provoking text alongside photos as glossy and dense as reality feels like waking up, like remembering.”
Many of the writers will be familiar, like visiting with old friends again –Diane Ackerman, Gary Snyder, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Pablo Neruda, Denise Levertov, William Stafford, Zora Neale Hurston, Sherman Alexie and many others.
Consider an excerpt by Terry Tempest Williams from The Erotic Landscape. “To be in relation to everything around us, above us, below us, earth, sky, bones, blood, flesh, is to see the world whole, even holy…The lightning we witness crack and charge a night sky in the desert is the same electricity we feel in ourselves whenever we dare to touch flesh, rock, body, and earth.”
Other passages will be fresh and new like waking up to a new day or making an unexpected discovery –Carol Westburg, Katie Lee, J. Ruth Gendler. Or maybe Joe Pulichino in Love Song for All.
you are so full of wonders
that I will remember you
in my next life
that when I come back again
as an apple tree
I will devote
a whole year’s growth to you
you will be apples
from winter sleep
to summer leaves
to ripe fruit falling
on autumnal ground
Whether familiar or new, each page is something to be savored.
Anderson writes, “Our bodies and the earth are intimately connected. But because so many of us live more online than on the land, it’s easy to forget this connection and miss the freely available wellspring of pleasure, satisfaction, and fullness we can drink from whenever we choose to pay attention to the natural world. It’s also easy to miss that eros properly understood can provide enormous energy for change—the kind of change required of us in our current environmental predicament.”
This connection of eros and caring for the earth is what recent Davis speaker Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort and Great Tide Rising noted in her review of the book. “Earth and Eros is a lovely, stirring, and significant book. It is a gift to those who love the reeling world. Because we are joined to the Earth, rejoicing in our deep connection to its tides, we are called to defend it—fiercely, faithfully, for all time.”
For our pleasure, Lorraine will share some of the voices that explore the erotic dimension of the human relationship to the earth, reminding us why we must protect our shared home.
Lorraine Anderson is a freelance writer and editor with a longstanding interest in creating a culture grounded in a reciprocal relationship with nature. Her books include Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry About Nature and Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture (lead editor). With a master’s degree in creation spirituality, she has been a community college writing instructor and is certified as a yoga teacher.
Book-signing. Lorraine will be available to sell and sign copies of her book after the presentation.
Donations at the door (cash, check, or Paypal) will help Cool Davis in its work to inspire Davis residents to think about our connection to our earth home, and our responsibility to sustain it.
Sign-up to attend here.
May is Bike Month! Walk, bike, take transit if possible.
Q & A with Lorraine
The following excerpts come from a longer interview about Earth & Eros with Lorraine that illuminates the meaning of Eros and the sources and inspiration for this book.
Q1. What led you to create this book?
I grew up on a chicken ranch in the Santa Clara Valley of California when it was still known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight, when blossoming orchards stretched in springtime as far as the eye could see. Earth’s beauty deeply imprinted me and has continued to be a centering force in my life, and thus I have found it painful and difficult to witness what our species is doing to the earth; as just one example, my childhood home is now buried under concrete in Silicon Valley.
After I earned a master’s degree in creation spirituality in 2001, I was deeply contemplating the harms humans are inflicting on our planet and ultimately on ourselves. Even with so much information available about the ways we are using up the earth and changing the climate, the bulk of people seemed not to be moved to take meaningful action. I understood then that what moves us to action is something much more visceral than information, and to my mind that’s eros—our hard-wired attraction to beauty, life, health, wholeness.
That’s what motivated me to gather these writings into a book. Read the full interview here.
Q2. How did you choose what to include in the book?
An anthology in its root meaning is a bouquet of flowers. I carefully arranged this bouquet to consist of an array of literature giving voice to different facets of our erotic connection to the earth…I chose pieces of prose and poetry that honor the great and transcendent beauty of the planet and the bodies we inhabit, as well as pieces that make clear the import of this matter as it relates to the continuation of life on Earth. Read more.
Q5. What do pleasure, desire, and sensuality have to do with confronting environmental problems?
The poet Mary Oliver has written that “in order to want to save the world, we must learn to love it—and in order to love it we must become familiar with it again.” Opening our senses—all of our senses—to the world is the only way to become familiar with it.
I believe we are hardwired to feel desire and to be attracted to pleasure, for a very good reason: because these feelings draw us closer to what is elemental, closer to beauty and health, closer to the aliveness that is our birthright.
I think that if we’re fully inhabiting our animal bodies, if we’re receptive to the sensory pleasures the earth can offer when it’s whole and healthy, we feel pain when we see the earth abused—like when mountaintops in West Virginia are blown up for coal or when huge parts of the forest in Alberta, Canada, are ripped out to make way for tar sands mining. From that place of visceral connection, we can begin standing up for what is sacred. Read the full interview.
Cool Davis is a coalition of citizens, the City of Davis, and community organizations working to empower our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It was great to see our latest Tuleyome Tale on fungi, written by our on-staff Certified California Naturalist Mary K. Hanson, appear online with the Lake County Record-Bee newspaper. https://www.record-bee.com/2019/09/27/tuleyome-tales-a-tale-of-three-fungi/ #CalNat