A Column in Catapult, and Book Plans

I have a new essay out in Catapult! Those of you familiar with my lizard territoriality work will recognize a lot of the science in this piece, though I haven’t written about the personal elements much before. And the specific sociopolitical emphasis here is newly applied to this work—it only fully came together last week thanks to some glorious editing from Allisen Lichtenstein 🙂

I realized I also forgot to link to my previous essay about antlions published in Catapult in February. Here it is! The essay is adapted from this zine, of which I still have copies in case you want some. Let me know.

These two essays are the first in a Catapult column called Our Animal Lives; there will be three more essays after this: on grieving and birds’ nests, on social spiders and labor organizing, and on corvids and freedom. I’m feeling really grateful and lucky that this strange human-animal dimension of my work has found a home that’s filled with care and attention.

In writing this second essay, I found myself, thanks to gentle and sharp editing, pulling away many different connecting threads that we simply didn’t have room for. Threads on paradox, and queerness, and freedom, and rationality. There is only so much you can do in 2500 words, after all. But I made sure to write down all the shorn threads, so I can pick them up and weave them back in when I have more room to lay out this whole tapestry in the making.

I’ve been writing essays with intention for about ten years now. About five years ago, I told Ned with great conviction and no real plan, “I think I have a book in me”. It’s been a whole thing coaxing this vague-yet-certain feeling into a shape, and then into a shape that feels like me. It’s been a whole thing because along the way I’ve had to discover what feels like me actually means. BUT! Thanks to a pretty incredible weeklong retreat/workshop, the book project finally has a shape I love! I’m very excited about this.

Delightfully, the shape of the book has aligned perfectly with not only the essays of Our Animal Lives (Part I of the book will collect and expand these essays) but also with this year’s work of completely revising the Animal Behavior curriculum to be critical, cross-disciplinary, and joyful (Part III of the book will be notes from the classroom; Part II will be something of a manifesto, a bit like this one).

Anyway, I’m off to work! I don’t think I’ll be writing much else for a bit, though you never know. I’ll link to the essays in the Catapult column as and when they come out. See you on the other side, stay well in the meanwhile ❤

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