A Reading: World of Wonders: In Praise of Nature

The collection of personal essays in award-winning poet Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments – lushly illustrated by Fumi Nakamura – together form […]


A Reading: World of Wonders: In Praise of Nature

Author:Aimee Nezhukumatathil


The collection of personal essays in award-winning poet Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments – lushly illustrated by Fumi Nakamura – together form an enchanting and introspective narrative of a life’s journey buoyed by connection to animals and earth.

Sponsored by:

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four collections of poems, including, most recently, Oceanic. Her writing appears in Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, ESPN, and Tin House. She is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program. Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments (Milkweed Editions) is her debut work of nonfiction. It’s a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.  As a child, Nezhukumatathil grew up in many places — the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance. The axolotl (known as the “Mexican walking fish”) teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. Wonder requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions to fully appreciate the world’s gifts. The New York Times called World of Wonders a “charmingly illustrated collection of nature essays [that] is more than it might appear to be at first glance.”

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