Earlier this year I was asked by Tina Mitchell, editor of the Turnip Truck(s) if I would consider contributing an essay for the next edition, on the theme of animals. It was the first time I’d heard of this small press journal which focuses, as I discovered, on the ‘dialectics of the human and its environment’. I had been wondering for a while how I might find ways to use my work and writing to cross boundaries and think differently about subjects of the natural world, science, ecology and conservation. And this seemed like the perfect opportunity and place to have a go.
When I got Tina’s email, I’d already drafted an essay about an encounter with a ctenophore, or comb jelly. I had seen these beautiful, glassy creatures many times before but always in the open sea, while scuba diving. This had been the first ctenophore I’d seen while standing on firm ground, welly-deep in an estuary in Devon, teaching a class of Cambridge undergraduates about the diversity, evolution and wonders of nature. What unfolded was a mini-adventure that ultimately ended sadly but along the way unexpectedly got me thinking about much bigger questions in science and evolution.
In my essay Holding on to ancient I explore ideas of science and discovery alongside aesthetics and wonder, and perhaps the selfishness that can take hold when I see things that I don’t want to let go. The essay is available to read as a PDF online (right click here to download).
And I was thrilled to hear that my essay was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize.