Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Newer Wilderness: Another Analog Spring

Hiking in the Maine Woods

It's time once again for my annual reverse migration to the woods of New Hampshire, where I teach at the University of Michigan's New England Literature Program, affectionately known as NELP (see past posts from/about it here). There 40 students and 13 staff members (along with a couple of dogs) take to the northern wilds to read Thoreau and Emerson, Dickinson and Frost, and modern New England authors, write in journals, and climb mountains in an immersive experimental study of literature and creative writing and New England culture, history, and regionalism. 

As part of this process, we also relinquish our cell phones, computers, recorded music, internet and as a new experiment this year, digital cameras, so as to be more present in our work and the creative community at camp. 

Rangeley, Maine from the Height of Land
Emily Hilliard playing banjo at Hobo Half-Hour

Last year's analog blogging (anablogging?) during this time went so well, thanks largely to my friends Morgan and Elizabeth, that I'm going to do it again, this year hopefully with more frequency. For the next two months, I'll compose Nothing in the House posts long-hand or typed on a typewriter, taking film photos (hopefully developed at camp, as we have a darkroom!), and send them to Morgan who will scan and post them on the blog. I may also solicit contributions from a few guest bloggers. 

Homemade Apple Cider Donut Tower
Tinctures and Nathaniel Hawthorne quotes

This year marks my 5th year as a teacher at NELP, and 6th including my time as a student, which means that when June 22nd rolls around, I'll have spent a year of my life in these woods. Along with analog postings involving baking of bread and pies in our industrial bakery, I'm excited about leading a Transcendental Diner Society with my friend Becky (more on that soon), working on my tree and spring ephemeral identification, writing some songs with my friend Chris, re-learning how to develop film, and forever working on finding that important pedagogical balance between nurture and rigor--they really go hand in hand, yes? 

Sunset at Camp Kabeyun on Lake Winnepesaukee, NELP

Thanks for indulging this analog-to-digital experiment once again. Wishing you a lovely, inspiring spring. For now, a favorite Emily Dickinson poem, and until soon in pen and ink.

Had I not seen the Sun
I could have borne the shade
But Light a newer Wilderness
My Wilderness has made --


Eileen said...

Wait a second. Working for Michigan? Did you go to the Michigan MFA program? Because I did too! I don't think we actually know each other, since we moved to CA in 2005ish, but still. Yay!!

emily said...

NELP is indeed a Michigan program. I went to Michigan for undergrad but not as an MFA. Some of my co-teachers (Nick Harp, Aric Knuth, and James Pinto) did though! Small world.

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