Here are some thematic threads in the 2021 issue of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry. No pretense here of being all-inclusive: creative work defies pigeonholing, and each reader makes his or her own weave. Still, these might serve as starter points for reflection and conversation. The genre of each piece, NF, F, or P, is indicated afterwards. Key texts from the 2020 issue of Deep Wild are also included; the issue is available in our online archive as well as for purchase at our educational discount. (You can scroll to the bottom of the page for a PDF version of this Study Guide.)

Sustenance and Renewal  How have wild places provided sustenance and renewal in the isolation and stress of a pandemic year? Poems by Coyle, Guterl, Heung, Holleman, Koger, McCrary Sullivan, Owen, Robertson, and others

Community in the Backcountry  In what ways are our human connections clarified and deepened in the prism of the backcountry?

  • Janet Goldberg, “Desert Draw”  F
  • Stephen S. Lottridge, “Three White Pelicans”  NF
  • Jeffrey S. Markovitz, “Freezing to Death in Jersey”  NF
  • Benjamin Murray, “Buller Mountain Fire Lookout”  F
  • Susan Pope, “Canyon”  NF
  • Poems by Cutler, Daly, Forrest, MacAllister, Trainor

Communing in Solitude  In what ways does the solitary backcountry experience shape and reshape our realities?

  • Dick Anderson, “Canoeing the Kenai”  NF
  • Susan Marsh, “The Moose, the Dragonfly, and Me”  NF
  • John Means, “Polecat”  F
  • Brad Shurmantine, “Sierra Trails”  NF
  • Cassie Van Domelan, “Numinous”  NF
  • Poems by Heung, Koger, Lind, McCrary Sullivan, Pike, Rohrbach

Our Wild World: Communing with Other Creatures  In what ways do encounters with other creatures enlarge our world?

  • Matthew Channer, “Better the Bear You Can See”  NF
  • Heather Durham, “Catch and Release”  NF
  • Regina Gort, “Maggots”  P
  • Erin O’Regan White, “The Good Hunt”  NF

See also, in Deep Wild 2020:

  • Aaron Denham, “The Spirit of an Encounter”  NF
  • Talley Kayser, “On Sleeping Near a Dead Moose in the Talkeetna Mountains”  P
  • Samuel Prince, “Inland Taipan Country Roamers”  P
  • Daniela Sieff, “Being Animal”  NF
  • Annanya Uberoi, “Wild Birds in Nepal”  P

Our Endangered World  What urgencies—and what responsibilities—do our backcountry journeys reveal to us?

  • Dennis Eagan, “Burning Mental Impressions” NF
  • Laura Pritchett, “Dieback, Beetlekill”  NF

See also, in Deep Wild 2020 these essential pieces:

  • One Foot, T-M Baird  P
  • Todd Burritt, “Changing Winds: Portrait of a Landscape in Transition   NF
  • Marybeth Holleman: More than Ever: What Wilderness Needs Now   NF

Click here for a one-page .PDF version of the Study Guide.