Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Know a Place:

The new issue of A Journal of the Natural and Built Environments was launched yesterday, and I am just diving in. I am so impressed with how this online literary magazine devoted to "searching for that interface—the integration—among the built and natural environments, that might be called the soul of place" utilizes the tools of the internet to bring a multimedia experience that goes far beyond what one can experience in a print journal, and by the same token exceeds the experience afforded by most online literary journals.

Take Sara Loewan's breathtaking essay, Setnet Fishing in Uyak Bay, describing the summer fishing grounds she inhabits with her family on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The piece is for the issue's "To Know a Place" feature, which selects a story, essay or poem that "demonstrates an eloquent intimacy between an author and the author's place". 

Not only is Loewan's gorgeous prose featured, but the journal includes a beautiful photo essay, a Google map of the location, and an audio stream of the author reading the essay.

Loewan writes:

We catch sea cucumbers when they tangle with kelp in the lead lines of our salmon nets. In the skiff, they heave their guts out as a defense mechanism and wriggle away so that predators will eat the feathery pink insides and leave the sea cucumber to grow new innards. These animals were traditionally harvested during minus tides by hand or with spears tied to long poles.
My husband cooks the strips in olive oil. The meat tastes sweet and brackish. I think of the care and labor to produce these small crisp bites and it seems that food, as much as landscape, connects us to the people who first chose this place.

Beautiful.  I can't wait to delve further. 

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