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“What nature can give to our souls” by Anais Salibian

I’m Anais Salibian, and I’ve been teaching at Writers & Books since the late 1980’s. I had a longing to be a writer, so I looked for community and found it there. My first pieces were all about nature. For a long time, nature was the only thing that felt like it saved my sanity. It was precious to me, and even before we had the words for global warming, I saw it degraded and vanishing. I wanted people to learn to see it as more than our physical sustenance. I wanted to write about what nature can give to our souls, so my first essays were stories about my experiences.

My first two pieces sat unfinished—I was a new writer and didn’t know exactly where I was going—when I found an essay by Barry Lopez in the library. It was entitled “Landscape and Narrative,” and when I read it among the stacks, I burst into tears. He was speaking to my heart and to my purpose. I went home and finished both essays; they both got immediately published.

We’ll read Lopez’s stunning essay in my class, Nature Writing: the Convergence of Inner and Outer Landscape.  We’ll also read other writers like Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, and Scott Russell Sanders for inspiration and support. I’m excited to share some of the recent scientific evidence of how nature heals the human body. Science always catches up with what we know in our souls.

I’ll provide prompts if students need them, and we’ll do some revision and editing as needed. But the most important element is to share with others what is so deeply meaningful to us, whether it’s in relationship to animals, the night sky, outdoor activities, or our own backyard.


Read Anais’s instructor bio by clicking here.

To read more about Anais’s upcoming Nature Writing workshop, click here.