For human cultures all over the world, Nature has been the original Subject for poems, songs, and stories. However, modern classes in nature writing often focus on a canon of work produced by white male writers responding to waves of industrialization. In this workshop, we'll consider the implications of the way nature writing has so often been defined as a genre, and broaden and deepen our thinking about what nature writing is and can be. We'll read nature-based work created by writers from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, and do some practices derived from the discipline of forest bathing to help us feel our way into the possibilities of our decolonial imaginations, supported by our relationship with the more-than-human world. Generative writing exercises--and practical suggestions for merging nature-connection practices with writing practices--will be included.
Melissa Jean is an Assistant Professor in the Mindfulness Studies masters’ program at Lesley University. She teaches courses in academic writing, creative writing, research methods, and mindfulness and the environment. She received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Lesley, and a PhD in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management from Utah State University. Her writing has appeared in The Colorado Review and a variety of online journals, including most recently Junoesq, The Hopper, Waxing and Waning, and Causeway Lit.
“Melissa is a wonderful teacher. She uses a variety of interesting materials to make connections, and I felt the class was structured in a thoughtful manner.”
"Melissa combined her experience and expertise as an educator, writer, and mindfulness guide to create a safe, comfortable, and grounded space for connecting with ourselves, our consciousness, and our written expression. Her work as a nature and forest therapist came through as she encouraged us to use our senses to experience the present moment with awareness and bring a more embodied and non-judgmental approach to our creative writing."
“I’ve loved all of the Porch classes I’ve taken so far. Y’all do an excellent job designing and delivering content. I’m always surprised by how much I grow as a writer, as a human, after taking a class. Melissa was a wonderful facilitator. Wise, grounded, compassionate. I felt very comfortable speaking my mind and my heart. Having taken this class, I’ve developed a more mindful approach to writing and observing Nature. And, to my surprise and delight, I’ve discovered a deep desire to learn more about fungus. Melissa’s instruction was a real gift. Thank you!”