Stu Levitan welcomes a guest who meets two of the criteria as a former Badger who will be appearing next week at the Wisconsin Book Festival. Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of an enchanting and stimulating collection of illustrated nature essays called WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, AND OTHER ASTONISHMENTS, published this year by the good people at Milkweed Editions, and just named as a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in nonfiction.
If you took Aldo Leopold’s expert eye for Nature and Marcel Proust’s ability to evoke memory out of experience, and filtered it all through a poet and essayist who was the daughter of a Filipina mother and South Indian father, you might come close to what Aimee Nezhukumatathil has accomplished in World of Wonders.
Born in Chicago in 1974, she lived as a child in Iowa, Arizona, Kansas, New York and Ohio; received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in poetry and nonfiction from The Ohio State University; was awarded a poetry fellowship to the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing; spent 14 years teaching in western New York, and in 2016 accepted appointment as Professor of English and Creative Writing in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where her husband, the essayist Dustin Parsons, also teaches.
Since 2003, she has published four collections of poetry and a chapbook of garden poems with the poet Ross Gay, and has been included in several collections and anthologies. She has been awarded a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, and a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, among other honors.
It is a pleasure to welcome to Madison Bookbeat, Aimee Nezhukumatathil