"Bucknell students bring a lot of energy to campus and to class; you have to meet that energy with energy of your own — physical, intellectual, creative, pedagogical."

"In this kind of writing, there is no substitute for spending time in your subject landscape, letting a lot of 'field time' wash over you, getting weathered so you have enough primary narrative in which you can also convey more objective kinds of information — scientific, historical — to the reader," says Christopher Camuto, associate professor of English.

Camuto is the author of four books, each of which reveals the amount of time he has spent "getting weathered" in the landscape. In his most recent work, Time and Tide in Acadia: Seasons on Mount Desert Island, he pursues the "nature of nature," hiking, canoeing and kayaking along the coast of Maine. For 10 years, Camuto also has written the "Watersheds" column for Trout magazine, which is published by Trout Unlimited.

Camuto's woodland property in western Union County is the setting for some of his current work. "This 80-acre tract is, of course, a dream come true for a nature writer. It may be more than I can handle, but I was drawn to its setting - between the mountains and agricultural land — a lively ecological edge with good diversity of native species," he writes.

His land has also been damaged by logging and invasive species. As Camuto works on ecological restoration — he is currently thinning red and white pine tree plantings to make room for oaks, hickories and walnuts — he is writing about the "farm." A practical account entitled A Natural History of Wolftree Farm provides a straightforward natural history, while Works & Days: Notes on a Woodland Farm, which borrows its title from the Greek classical poet Hesiod, will be a more literary book of essays.

Other current projects include volumes of verse inspired by landscapes and by hunting, a book or two exploring his grandparents' homelands in southern Italy and Sicily, and a work "about the relation of early Western philosophy (and perhaps mythology) to climate and landscape." This last is inspired both by his recent visits to the Mediterranean and his love of classical Western literature.

Camuto teaches creative writing workshops as well as courses in American and Native American literature. "Bucknell students bring a lot of energy to campus and to class; you have to meet that energy with energy of your own — physical, intellectual, creative, pedagogical," he says. "In writing, traveling, teaching, I am always doing the same thing but, I hope, with sufficient variety to ensure growth in myself and in my students."

Posted Sept. 9, 2009

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