"And now I feel all these events from a week in the Prospect mountains, and the narrative pattern they cast like a shadow, or like ripples in sand, have been filed somewhere in the regions of the brain near to where the neurons and synapses first lit and flexed their tiny, metaphoric muscles from that childhood reading. In recent years scientists have emphasized how changing and dynamic is the human brain, shaped and structured by both thoughts and experience. The quest for understanding, the peripheral vision we gain from gazing where we do, becomes a kind of topography in our own head’s contours, gray matter under bone and skin and hair."
In Prospect, her wise collection of essays, Elizabeth Dodd widens her gaze to peer at the world through a myriad of lenses—natural history, local history, science, anthropology, philosophy, and literature. Offering cultural commentary and personal revelation, she invites the reader on a journey into the heart of life—the life of places, the life of the individual, the life of a culture. It is a journey whose map is continuously being formed out of the matter of the moment.
For Dodd, the pins on the map outlining the way are made up of elm trees and mosquitoes, burial and ceremonial mounds, a lunatic asylum, an inner-city neighborhood, the dissolution of a marriage, a mother’s death. In the venerable tradition of Gary Snyder, Terry Tempest Williams, and John Haines, Dodd uses the elements of the natural world and historical fact as compass points to locate the sense of self.
Elizabeth Dodd is professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at Kansas State University. Her most recent work is a collection of poetry.
Praise and Reviews:
"In these keenly intelligent essays we follow the writer’s delving of American landscapes, where bison and tallgrass prairies, elms and elk, 'foolhen' grouse and riparian flora are set forth in cherishable particularities of detail. Though trail-wise and plucky, the author shuns easy effects of self-dramatization in favor of her naturalist’s care and dear concern. Thus from start to finish, the voice is one we trust completely."—Reg Saner, author of Reaching Keet Seel: Ruin’s Echo and the Anasazi
"Dodd writes essays with a naturalist’s eye for pattern, a poet’s feel for language, a historian’s respect for the past, and a lover’s yearning for the health of the land and all its creatures."—Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Force of Spirit
"This book of essays should establish Dodd as one of the country’s best young writers."—Roger Mitchell, Indiana University