As part of her Wilderness Literature course, Talley V. Kayser, the Program Director of the Adventure Literature Series at Penn State University, leads two dozen students and a team of instructors on a backpacking trip to the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia each spring, and among their required gear is a copy of Deep Wild Journal. Working in small groups in a backcountry setting, the students read and discuss essays and stories from the journal and make personal responses in their field journals, which they later revise and share.

Talley has this to say about the experience:

“Working with Deep Wild helps my students to see wilderness literature as a living discipline: not a dead genre that belongs to past authors, but an ongoing conversation among contemporary writers who value and advocate for wild places. Moreover, reading Deep Wild gives students opportunities to join that conversation—to find their own literary voices as they experience wilderness firsthand. 

“The diverse perspectives, approachable essay lengths, and featured student work in Deep Wild empower my students to better process the value of their own experiences in the wilderness—and to write about their experiences with greater attention and intention. Reading and discussing Deep Wild helps them see poetry and creative nonfiction as art they can not only ‘analyze,'”‘ but participate in.”

A big Deep Wild thank you to Talley for this innovative and adventurous project, which embodies our mission of supporting education and encouraging student writers to find their own words for the wild. 

To find out more about how to use Deep Wild for educational purposes at steeply discounted educational rate, visit and teachers. To obtain a copy of the excellent materials Talley developed for her class or to converse with her about the experience of going backpacking with a score of students, contact her at

Here’s some pics of the intrepid Penn State students in the wild (used with permission).  

2 thoughts

  1. This is outstanding! I’d like to go on that trip to listen in on what the students have to say! Diane Gansauer (Author of “Crossing The River”)


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