ASLE Spotlight 2022, Episode 3: Beyond Human


This episode was recorded Friday, May 20, 2022

Co-Hosts: Gisela Heffes and George Handley


Mandy-Suzanne Wong, Listen, we all bleed.

In the literary essay collection Listen, we all bleed, radical artists from around the world use recordings of nonhuman voices to plead for an end to violence against nonhuman animals. The essays, novelistic and acutely personal, listen to fishes, whales, coyotes, elephants, chickens, and more. Central to this work is the importance of listening—just listening—as a creative effort that’s also an activist act. An EcoLit Best Environmental Book of 2021, an SPD nonfiction bestseller, and a Pen/Galbraith and Foreword INDIES nominee; Listen, we all bleed includes reflections on the work of Kathryn Eddy, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Robbie Judkins, mOwson&M0wson, Dave Phillips, Colleen Plumb, Quiet Ensemble, Hiroki Sasajima, Andrew Stevenson, Jana Winderen, and Eisuke Yanagisawa.

Mandy-Suzanne Wong’s first novel, Drafts of a Suicide Note (Regal House), was a Permafrost Book Prize, Foreword INDIES, and International Book Award finalist. 2022 will see the second edition of her award-winning fiction chapbook Awabi (Digging Press) and 2023 the release of her novel The Box (Graywolf Press).


Megan Kaminski, Prairie Divination

An oracle deck and book of essays, Prairie Divination turns to the plants, animals, and geological features of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem as a source for knowledge and inspiration as to how to live in the world (and to re-align thinking towards kinship and sustainability). How might thinking with plants and animals guide us in navigating an uncertain present–and help to imagine futures? Filled with information for each corresponding card, the illustrated essays offers personal guidance and affirmations based on the specific lessons that each plant, animal, and element can teach us.

“Prairie Divination casts the diviner into the vibrant ecosystem of the Kansas tallgrass. We meet the monarch, the box turtle, the kestrel, the coreopsis among many other intelligent, energetic beings. Each card is an “opening for encounter,” an invitation to commune, a concentrated channel that weaves us into biotic interdependence. Kaminski and Wheeler offer us an oracle deck that helps us reattune our attention toward embodied acts of kinship, conservation, and collective care. A visually stunning and reaching collaboration.”  –Danielle Vogel

Megan Kaminski is a poet and essayist—and the author of three books of poetry, Gentlewomen (Noemi Press, 2020), Deep City, and Desiring Map. An Associate Professor in English at the University of Kansas, she specializes in poetry and poetics, plant studies, queer ecology, somatics, eco-arts practices, and the environmental humanities. Her work is informed by interdisciplinary research in social welfare, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, as well as previous work in the healing arts and at non-profit environmental organizations.


Estela González, ARRIBADA

Mariana Sánchez Celis has traveled the world as a pianist trained at the Juilliard School of Music. But when her mother has a stroke and her beloved uncle suddenly disappears, Mariana must put her life on hold to return to her home in Ayotlan, Mexico.

There, she discovers her town is no longer the place she remembers. Ayotlan’s beaches, sea turtle colonies, and historic center are decimated under decades of neglect and abuse. What part did her late father have in this? And could it be related to her uncle’s disappearance?

Gloria Estela Gonzalez, by Caleb Kenna

In Arribada “North Americans who travel to Mexico to enjoy its beaches and nightlife may be unaware of the destructive histories and effects of the resorts they enjoy. This novel will open their eyes.” –AMY HOFFMAN, author of The Off Season and Lies About My Family

Arribada is a novel about how even the most painful truths can bring power and freedom.”–EILEEN GONZALEZ, Foreword Reviews

Binational writer Estela González writes in English and Spanish about race, class, gender, and environmental justice. She teaches Latin American literature at Middlebury College. Arribada was a finalist for the Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Award.

Boria Sax, Avian Illuminations: A Cultural History of Birds

Avian Illuminations tells about the many roles of birds in human society, including omens, food, messengers, deities, pets, muses, timekeepers, custodians, hunting companions, environmental indicators, decorative motifs, and, most importantly, embodiments of our aspirations. It narrates the history of human relationships over the centuries with crows, owls, parrots, falcons, eagles, wrens, nightingales, chickens, turkeys, hummingbirds, and many other birds. It describes in detail how the nesting behavior of birds has provided models for human romance and domestic life, while their ability to fly has inspired millennia of inventors. Finally, the book concludes that the interconnections between birds and human beings are so manifold that a world without birds would effectively mean an end to human culture, even if we continued to pass on some lonely strands of our DNA.

Boria Sax is the author of many books on animals in human culture. He teaches in the graduate English program at Mercy College and at Sing Sing prison.