March 30-April 2: Eco-writers to put natural world into words

By Sabrina Zearott, College of Arts & Sciences

Pyle-and-CobbPULLMAN, Wash. – Environmental writers Robert Michael Pyle and Allison Cobb will be featured in three nature-themed events – all free to the public – March 30-April 2 to conclude the 2014-15 Washington State University Visiting Writer Series.

Pyle, a naturalist and writer for Orion Magazine, will lead a nature walk and writing workshop 3-5 p.m. Monday at the Shattuck Arboretum Amphitheater, University of Idaho, Moscow; a reception will follow.

Cobb – a writer and artist who specializes in the interaction between people and the environment – will lead a “plastic walk” 3-4 p.m. Thursday in Pullman’s Reaney Park to teach about the trends and impacts of plastics in the environment. Participants should bring a small bag to collect trash.

They will deliver a joint reading of their works and answer questions on at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Museum of Art/WSU.


Pyle is a lepidopterist, or expert about moths and butterflies. He holds a Ph.D. from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is author of the books, “Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land” – winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal – and “Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place” – winner of the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.

“Pyle is one of the best-known naturalists and environmental writers of our time,” said Peter Chilson, professor of English at WSU. “His visit to WSU and the University of Idaho is a rare treat for students and faculty who will get to hear him read his work and speak about the challenges of putting the natural world into words.”

Cobb is author of “Born2,” poems about Los Alamos and the history of the atomic bomb, and “Green-Wood,” a poetic and narrative journey through a Brooklyn cemetery. She works for the Environmental Defense Fund and was a 2011 Oregon Arts Commission fellow and a 2009 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow.


Her work brings “issues of public space, politics and ecology in the Anthropocene (era of human global impact) into startling clarity,” said Linda Russo, clinical associate professor of English at WSU and co-director of the Visiting Writer Series ( Audience members can benefit from Cobb’s “years of fieldwork experience as someone who has tracked the reappearance and morphing of plastic in the environment.”

The events are cosponsored by the WSU Department of English (; Student Entertainment Board; Common Reading; Charles R. Conner Museum of Natural History; Center for Environmental Research, Education & Outreach; and by the University of Idaho Department of English. The “plastic walk” is also cosponsored by Pullman Parks and Recreation.


Debbie Lee, WSU professor of English, 509-335-6812,
Linda Russo, WSU clinical associate professor of English, 509-335-7496,
Sabrina Zearott, WSU College of Arts and Sciences (, 509-335-3965,