Earth's Eye: A Festival of Writing

Earth's Eye Festival of Writing

Earth's Eye: A Festival of Writing

Writers, naturalists, bird watchers, teachers, journal keepers—anyone interested in exploring writing about the natural world—join us!

 “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye;
looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”--Thoreau

The Bachelor of Fine Arts Program and The School of Humanities & Social Sciences at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College will host the second annual festival of writing in and on the natural world Saturday, September 7, 2013.

The natural setting for the festival is Presque Isle State Park, a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. Presque Isle offers visitors a beautiful coastline and Presque Isle Bay, a wide and deep harbor for the city of Erie. The peninsula is a National Natural Landmark and a favorite spot for migrating birds. Due to its many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.

The festival will include field work at Presque Isle State Park, panel discussions on issues involved in writing in and on the natural world, and opportunities to work with the award-winning faculty of Penn State Erie’s creative writing program and with featured guest Lia Purpura, the author of seven books, including the essay collection On Looking, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Lia will give a craft lecture as part of the festival’s program and will also do a public reading and book signing on Thursday, September 5, at 6 p.m. at Smith Chapel on the Penn State Erie campus. Participants are invited and encouraged to attend this separate event.

“This was a downright glorious event. The company of such skilled writer/ teachers, like-minded participants
each of whom had her own terrific projects and spheres of influence was exhilarating.”

— 2012 Earth’s Eye participant

Register Here

The price is $36 until July 31 and $40 until the deadline of August 31. Earth's Eye is free for Penn State students from any campus. If you are a Penn State student and would like to register, email Kim Todd at

For more information and updates, like us on Facebook at


9:00 a.m.                           Welcome and introductions, Pine Tree Shelter, Presque Isle State Park.

10:00-11:30 a.m.               First exploration with writing exercises.

12:00-1:00 p.m.                Second exploration with writing exercises.

1:00-2:00 p.m.                   Lunch. Time to discuss, revise, develop, ask questions.

2:30 p.m.                           Meet at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

2:30-3:15 p.m.                   Craft talk by Lia Purpura.

3:30-4:15 p.m.                  “Finding the Story in Place.” Panel with Lia Purpura, Aimee Pogson, Tom Noyes, Kim Todd: moderator.

4:15-5:00 p.m.                   Wrap-up and sharing work from the day. (Books will be for sale at TREC.)

Festival Faculty Lia Purpura

Lia Purpura’s most recent book is Rough Likeness, a collection of essays. In a review of the book, a meditation on vultures, beach glass, landscapes that seem mute, the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote: “Nobody writes about what Purpura does, and nobody writes like her -- what more can a writer aspire to?” Her other six books include King Baby (poems,), On Looking (essays), and Increase (essays). Her work has been selected as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (for On Looking), the Beatrice Hawley Award (for King Baby), the Associated Writing Programs Award (for Increase), four Pushcart Prizes, an NEA Fellowship in prose, a Fulbright Fellowship in translation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work appears in Best American Essays, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Orion, Agni, Field, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and in many anthologies.

Kim Todd

Kim Todd is the author of Sparrow, a look at the natural and cultural history of this loved and reviled bird. She is also the author of Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, which looks at the life of a pioneering explorer/naturalist who traveled to South America in 1699 to study insect metamorphosis. It was selected as a Montana Book Award honor book, as one of the best science/technical books of 2007 by the Library Journal, and as a “Book to Remember” from 2007 by the New York Public Library. Her first book, Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America, tells the stories of non-native species and how they arrived in the United States, and received the PEN/Jerard Award and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. Her articles and essays have appeared in Orion, Sierra Magazine, California Wild and Grist, among other places. She has taught environmental and nature writing at the University of Montana, the University of California at Santa Cruz extension, and the Environmental Writers Institute. She has an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction and an M.S. in environmental studies, both from the University of Montana, and B.A. in English from Yale.


Tom Noyes Most recently, Tom Noyes has been writing stories about environmental disasters and crises set in and around the Great Lakes Region. His first two books, Spooky Action at a Distance and Other Stories (Dufour, 2008) and Behold Faith and Other Stories (Dufour, 2003), have garnered accolades and awards from such forums as Stanford University Libraries, AWP (The Association of Writing and Writing Programs) and The New York Times Book Review. He currently teaches in the BFA program at Penn State Behrend, where he also serves as a consulting editor for Lake Effect. Tom has earned degrees in writing and literature from Ohio University, Wichita State University and Houghton College.


Aimee Pogson Aimee Pogson is a lecturer of Creative Writing and English. She received a BA in English/Creative Writing from Penn State Erie in 2006 and an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University in 2009. Her work has appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, PANK, and Monkeybicycle. Her essay, “The Dance I Danced for You,” was shortlisted for Best American Essays 2006 and her short story, “Unnatural,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition to teaching, she also works as an editor at Lake Effect.