Reading List

Quick post to share a bibliography — what the poet has been reading — from the past month.  Rich grist for the poetry mill!  Some of these books are my own, but most are from the park’s library. I must return them next week; I feel like a traveling monk surrounded by manuscripts in a distant abbey’s library, furiously reading before he must leave. I know I promised to send specific titles to various people (who want to look for them at their local libraries), but here’s the complete list instead. Gusty morning here, but it promises to be another gorgeous day in the Badlands! Putting the books down, and heading outside.

  • • Anderson, Bridget. What Fossils Tell Us: The History of Life (World of Science: Come Learn with Me). Hong Kong: Lickle Publishing, 2003.
  • • Black Bear, Sr., Ben, and R. D. Theisz. Songs and Dances of the Lakota. 2nd Printing ed. Aberdeen, South Dakota: North Plains Press, 1984.
  • • Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007.
  • Depostional Environments, Lithostratigraphy, and Biostratigraphy of the White River and Arikaree Groups; Late Eocene to Early Miocene, North America. (Special Paper # 325, Geological Society of America). Austin, Texas: Geological Society Of America, 1998.
  • • Gries, John Paul. Roadside Geology of South Dakota (Roadside Geology Series) (Roadside Geology Series). 1st Edition ed. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1996.
  • • Hauk, Joy Keve. Badlands: Its Life and Landscape. 1969. Reprint, Seattle: Badlands Natural History Association, 2006.
  • • Harksen, J. C. Guidebook to the major Cenozoic deposits of southwestern South Dakota (South Dakota Geological Survey Guidebook). Vermillion, South Dakota: Science Center, University Of South Dakota, 1969.
  • • Herring, Scott. Lines on the Land: Writers, Art, and the National Parks. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 2004.
  • • Jaffe, Mark. Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh. New York: Crown, 2000.
  • • Johnson, Morris D. Black and White Spy: The Magpie. Honolulu, 1988.
  • • Meade, Dorothy C. Heart Bags & Hand Shakes: The Story of the Cook Collection. 1st ed. Lake Ann, MI: National Woodlands Publishing Company, 1994.
  • • Miller, Lenore Hendler. The Nature Specialist: A Complete Guide to Program and Activities. Martinsville, Indiana: American Camping Association, 1986.
  • • Moore, George William. Uranium-bearing Sandstone in the White River Badlands, Pennington County, South Dakota (Geological Survey circular). Denver: U.S. Dept. Of The Interior, Geological Survey, 1955.
  • • Neihardt, John G. (Flaming Rainbow). The Twilight of the Sioux: The Song of the Indian Wars, The Song of the Messiah (Volume II of A Cycle of the West). Cambridge, MA: Univ. Of Nebraska Press, 1971.
  • • Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks. Toronto, Canada: Bison Books, 1988.
  • • Prothero, Donald R. The Eocene-Oligocene Transition. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 1994.
  • • Retallack, Gregory J. A Colour Guide to Paleosols. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.
  • • Retallack, Gregory J. Soils of the Past. 2 ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001.
  • • Schumm, Stanley Alfred. Evolution of Drainage Systems and Slopes in Badlands at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. New York: Dept. Of Geology, Columbia University, 1954.
  • • Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1996.
  • • Sheire, James W. The Badlands: Historical Basic Data Study. New York: Department of the Interior, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, 1969.
  • • Turnbull, David. Maps Are Territories: Science in an Atlas. Westport, CT: Hyperion Books, 1995.
  • • Wood, Denis. The Power of Maps. New York: The Guilford Press, 1992.

Woolly Mammoth, meet Chickenosaurus!

Categories: Badlands National Park, Books, Evidence, Paleontology | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 11, 2010

I’ve been reading paleontologist Jack Horner’s new book, “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction doesn’t have to be forever.” His ideas emerge from his work in the Hell Creek Formation (Montana’s Badlands); Horner is convinced that we can reverse-engineer a dinosaur by tweaking the DNA in a chicken embryo. I find it is difficult to imagine a dinosaur (one reviewer of Horner’s book is dubbing it “chickenosaurus”) really existing in our world, conceptually. Will it be one giant leap forward for the dinosaur, one giant leap backward for humankind? Nature, tooth and claw….

Dreams of the fierce modern McNuggetosaurus notwithstanding, I’m starting to make a list of the places I want to see in May, when I drive out to Oregon — petroglyphs, fossil sites, even a remote spot in Wyoming where dinosaur footprints were found, preserved in siltstone! Tonight I dug out a few of my childhood dinosaur books, and scanned some of their covers. Here’s my favorite — depicting the T-Rex and the Woolly Mammoth coexisting!

Dinosaurs & Other Prehistoric AnimalsDinosaurs & Other Prehistoric Animals

Can you say anachronism?

Postscript for potential children’s book authors: dinosaurs ruled the world of the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods — until their sudden mass extinction, which was probably triggered by a bolide hitting the earth. This is called the Cretaceous–Tertiary (or Cretaceous–Paleogene) extinction event. In many places, the “K-T boundary” is a clearly visible line in the earth’s rocks. Before K-T: dinosaurs. After K-T: no more dinosaurs. By comparison, Woolly Mammoths and their tusked evolutionary ancestors evolved AFTER the K-T extinction event….. Woolly Mammoths are found in the fossil record from about 150 thousand years ago, until perhaps 10 thousand years ago.

The Minstrel was infirm and old….

Categories: Books, Evidence, Lake Superior, Upper Michigan | Kathleen M. Heideman | December 10, 2009

The Minstrel was infirm and old….

This is an illustration from The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (published by Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, NY, 1888). Quotation is from the first stanza of Scott’s epic poem “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.”

The Lay of the Last Minstrel

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His withered cheeks and tresses gray
Seem’d to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the Bards was he,
who sung of Border chivalry;
For welladay! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and opress’d,
Wish’d to be with them, and at rest.
(……)

This image pairs well with our current weather advisory:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MARQUETTE MI
435 PM EST THU DEC 10 2009

…LAKE EFFECT SNOW CONTINUES FOR WESTERLY WIND SNOWBELTS…

.A STRONG STORM SYSTEM MOVING INTO QUEBEC WILL PRODUCE HEAVY LAKE
EFFECT SNOWS THROUGH FRIDAY NEAR LAKE SUPERIOR IN WESTERLY FAVORED
LAKE EFFECT SNOW BELTS. AWAY FROM THE LAKE EFFECT SNOWS…WIND CHILL
VALUES ACROSS THE WESTERN HALF OF UPPER MICHIGAN WILL FALL TO 15
TO 30 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.
MIZ004-005-009>013-110545-
/O.CON.KMQT.WC.Y.0005.091211T0300Z-091211T1600Z/
BARAGA-MARQUETTE-GOGEBIC-IRON-DICKINSON-MENOMINEE-DELTA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…L’ANSE…GWINN…MARQUETTE…IRONWOOD…
IRON RIVER…IRON MOUNTAIN…MENOMINEE…ESCANABA…GLADSTONE
435 PM EST THU DEC 10 2009 /335 PM CST THU DEC 10 2009/
…WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM EST /9 PM
CST/ THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST /10 AM CST/ FRIDAY…

A WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM EST /9 PM CST/
THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST /10 AM CST/ FRIDAY.

* VERY LOW WIND CHILLS LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING.

* TEMPERATURES FALLING TO 5 BELOW TO 10 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT INTO
EARLY FRIDAY IN COMBINATION WITH A WEST WIND AROUND 10 MPH WILL
PRODUCE WIND CHILL VALUES OF 15 BELOW ZERO TO 30 BELOW ZERO.

* THE VERY LOW WIND CHILLS COULD LEAD TO FROST BITE OR HYPOTHERMIA
IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

Long Winter Shadows

Categories: Books, Evidence | Kathleen M. Heideman | December 10, 2009

Page from the book “Adventures in Science with Bob and Don” by Harry Carpenter, Guy Bailey and Bernice Stroetzel (Allyn and Bacon, 1940). Our recent blizzard-weather finds me anxiously anticipating solstice! It is good to know that we are almost at the turning point — just eleven more days.  After that, each day will deliver a few extra moments of light.

This morning, in the dark, shoveling a path to the garage door for D., I found myself reciting “I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like” — this is a wintry line from a poem by my mentor, Jim Moore (from his book Lightning at Dinner, published by Graywolf Press in 2005):

I Don’t Think We Need To Know
Jim Moore

I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like.
Or why we die: that, too, I don’t think we need to know.
Why life is hard? I think not.

It’s hot inside, it’s cold out:
that’s already a lot to know. That love comes and goes,
that we grow old slowly and then suddenly not.

It helps to know that snow is a god fallen to earth.
Sometimes it helps to let in the world a bit:
some wind, a few flakes, the sound of ice cracking.

Stars, for reasons we’ll never know, help show us
who on earth we are and how to bear it here and how
far away we are from knowing why we are small.

Who knows why we love or why we die,
or what exactly wonder is,
demanding that I touch it as if it were the beloved

and I the young bride, believing.

Nature words follow the dodo?

Categories: Books, Poetics, Quotations, Writing | Kathleen M. Heideman | November 12, 2009

According to UNESCO, an entire language goes extinct — every two weeks! Experts predict that half of the world’s languages will be lost in my lifetime. Human languages are living things, right? So we say it is natural — words are born, words flourish, words fail us or experience revivals, words become “endangered” and fade away.

Still, I was frustrated to learn that The Oxford Junior Dictionary (published for schoolchildren) has removed numerous words describing the natural world, in order to make room for new words describing technology. Here are just a few of the nouns Oxford dropped:

acorn, ash, beaver, beech, blackberry, bloom, bramble, county, decade, doe, fern, ferret, fungus, gooseberry, heron, minnow, mint, mussel, newt, otter, ox, panther, porcupine, psalm, raven, starling, thrush, vine, walnut, weasel, willow, wren

An explanation attributed to Oxford University Press states:

“When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed.”

In an ironic twist, “blackberry” was removed from OJD, and “BlackBerry” was added. Widespread substitution of virtual for natural experience (and now language) leads to what Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder, not in a clinical sense, but as a condition caused by the cumulative human costs of alienation from nature, including diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses” (- Last Child in the Woods).

“Picture of a Dodo, taken from Naturalists’ Miscellany of 1793.” Originally uploaded by kevinzim

The Antarctic: from the Circle to the Pole

Categories: Antarctica, Books | Kathleen M. Heideman | November 10, 2008

A terrific new book has just been published: THE ANTARCTIC: FROM THE CIRCLE TO THE POLE — Photographs by Stuart D. Klipper. Stuart is my Antarctic friend & mentor who has been to the ice multiple times, five times through the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers program. Minnesota Public Radio ran a short segment announcing Stuart’s new book, for which they interviewed Stuart (and me!). Here is a link to the MPR website, featuring audio of the interview as it aired yesterday morning, a text version of the same, and 8 photos from Stuart’s new book.  There’s also an audio file of me reading one of my Antarctic poems (“Human, considering the Polar Plateau”).

Picturing the Cold
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/03/picturingthecold/

Here’s a link to Stuart’s new book, on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Antarctic-Circle-Pole-Guy-Guthridge/dp/0811862291/

PS: Rumor has it that Stuart’s new book is mentioned in the newest issue of Oprah’s “O Magazine” with a blurb & a photo!  Oprah says:  get your Christmas shopping done early!!

K.

Anthology reviewed in New Scientist!

Categories: Apostle Islands Nat. Lakeshore, Books, Evidence, Poems (published), Science + Research | Kathleen M. Heideman | July 31, 2008

New Scientist reviews poetry:  wow!   Checking my email, I found a note from Sean Miller, editor of the anthology Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory (Scriblerus Press). Turns out that New Scientist has reviewed our anthology — and their review was very positive! The review was posted on the New Scientist website: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926652.800

Unfortunately, access require a subscription. If you *really* want to read the whole review, let me know, as I have a copy. For the rest of you, here is an excerpt:

Books to travel with: Riffing on Strings edited by Sean Miller and Shveta Verma
Reviewed by Amanda Gefter
From issue 2665 of New Scientist magazine, 16 July 2008, page 48

WHAT first drew me to physics were the words. Cosmos. Entanglement. Spiralling galaxies and stars gone supernova, dark matter and charmed quarks. Physics brims with linguistic magic. And once you peer beneath the words, you find ideas can possess a poetry more poignant than any turn of phrase. String theory may turn out to be wrong. It might not be testable and it might not describe the real world. But it does describe a world that’s undeniably poetic. Still, I’ll admit, when I picked up Riffing on Strings I was sceptical. Sure, the poetic building blocks are there, but creative writing and string theory? It’s got the potential to go horribly awry. So I was pleased to find such an eclectic, thought-provoking and entertaining collection of writing – perfect for toting along on travels in other dimensions. The book opens with Sean Miller’s introduction to string theory and its place in the arts, followed by a series of essays by acclaimed physicists. Michio Kaku’s piece on duality is especially informative. Then come short stories, poems and plays that show the myriad ways in which physics seeps into public consciousness, is absorbed by the artist and re-emitted as something entirely new.

The anthology Riffing on Strings includes my poem A Mapped Route to the Island of _________ which was inspired by the M.I.N.O.S. neutrino project taking place in northern Minnesota’s Soudan Mine. Here’s how the poem begins:

Was there fog? Can I blame my navigation errors
on an ordinary layer of interference — say the moon
was luminous at first, large as the eye of a lighthouse,
only clouds came later? Well, then, yes.
It is possible to paddle purposefully for hours
and still miss the shore…..

Riffing on Strings: A Mapped Route to the Island of ______.

Categories: Apostle Islands Nat. Lakeshore, Books, Evidence, Poems (published), Science + Research | Kathleen M. Heideman | July 19, 2008

Wow. I am rather thrilled to report that my poetry has been included in a gorgeous and whip-smart anthology of writings about STRING THEORY! The book is “Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory,” edited by Sean Miller and Shveta Verma, published by Scriblerus Press. The anthology also features an essay by one of my physics heroes: Michio Kaku!

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Riffing-Strings-Creative-Writing-Inspired/dp/0980211409

PS: Riffing on Strings received a positive review from NEW SCIENTIST!!

Here’s my poem, a meditation on love, mythology, evidence, maps and aim, inspired by the M.I.N.O.S. project, shooting a beam of neutrinos from Fermilab (near Chicago) through the earth —– to an underground receiver lab constructed in the old Soudan Mine, in Northern Minnesota.

A Mapped Route to the Island of _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Kathleen M. Heideman

Was there fog? Can I blame my navigation errors
on an ordinary layer of interference — say the moon
was luminous at first, large as the eye of a lighthouse,
only clouds came later? Well, then, yes.

It is possible to paddle purposefully for hours
and still miss the shore of Romance. ((So close — almost!))
At least that’s what a friend said, explaining how he kayaked
out to the islands of the Sleeping Giant, and nearly missed

— not by much, perhaps, but aim is not enough, such nights!
So often my buoyant little life has slipped a single mile
too far west of the rocky point that is a mooring place,
or will become so, soon, for someone luckier at steering.

Still, an island is a looming fact, visible from a distance.
Igneous, the basalt sides form lines of forced intrusion;
they weather slower than the surrounding landscape.
How clearly an island reveals the world’s inner nature:

old crust floating on a deeper sea. Notice me veering
to avoid the thing I’m aiming to say, even as I break my own
silence to say so? If only I were better at calculus,
my navigation might improve, my poems might steer

more easily toward the certain landmass of Conclusions.
I don’t mean simple arithmetic. Complicated as my
checkbook gets, it’s not enough to track down dollars,
cents. There’s something deeper I want: higher math,

a happy accident, what happens when you draw an island
and a boat and braid your strings into a rope — suddenly,
the negative space between those shapes becomes activated,
a gap grows into an thing with its own meaning: Hope,

liquid, map-able. Sometimes, summer nights,
I take a bottle of red wine to the garden, and a notebook, and
this pen. I write myself into existence. More than once,
moon’s beam illuminates how I’ve scribbled the same equation

down the page, solving for love, an untutored stutter:
1+1=2. (1+1)==(1+1).
How many possible routes, how many maps rolled into tubes,
tubes pulled taut into strings, folding into points?

Fine, I’m expecting too much from romance.
Certain molecules, they bond whenever they meet… H2O, you know.
Other times they turn caustic, discolor their container, explode.
I’ve had lovers like that. Or worse: inert; there’s no reaction,

1×1=1. Recent studies in the U.S. suggest millions of respondents
are “very satisfied” with basic math. Fog arrives while paddling.
You think you know my answer now, don’t you? We are hoping

for the existence of things quite difficult to prove. Dimensions,
pulled like taffy strings. In Chicago, scientists are launching accelerated
particles north, through the bedrock of Minnesota: through dolomite,
Laurentian greenstone, Gabbro basalt, Vermilion hematite deposits…

The aim is a vault of iron plates in the labyrinth of an old iron mine,
a lab deep underground. Down they go, later, to check for a proof
which arrives in the form of minuscule holes burned in iron,
a scatter-pattern of subatomic dots. The M.I.N.O.S. Project, they name it.

And what was myth becomes statistic —our aim is refined; particles
hit the target with regularity, but we are looking to unravel
something more elusive; a hint, a route by which 1 reaching 1
reveals the stray mark of a degrading neutrino…

*

Whenever a conversation shoots right over my head, I try to picture
something simple — a million dots of color, a pointillism painting by
Georges Seurat. If you stand too close, the gallery alarm goes off,
and the dots are just another crowded Friday bar, enisled points.

But squint a bit, and the dots vibrate to form a picnic scene, “Sunday Afternoon
on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Pure color, a landscape of spring umbrellas.
fancy hats, strolling couples, narrow boats rowing along the Seine.
Specks of paint, dots placed very close to the next, shimmer like cobwebs

& talk until their stories blur together. Seen from far enough away,
something else is always glimpsed — astronauts who reach the moon
report how small our continents seem, small islands of the earth, dots.
And that string of islands, northeast of Thunder Bay?

They form the outline of a resting man: Sleeping Giant, Manibozo.
It is possible to paddle out there, land, and fall asleep with your head
on the island’s stone thigh. Better paddlers than me have studied mythology
but miss the island, lose their way, listening between each stroke….

Scared. Trying to calculate horizon, the line strung between water and night.
The route is mapped, a dotted line. Between the Isle of the Heart
and the Isle of the Head, the lake runs wide and deep. In theory, it is possible
to push straight through, unknowingly. As you are doing, yes. Like so.