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Biography

City at the Water's Edge: A Natural History of New York (Rutgers/Rivergate, 2007) offers a re-imagining of an urban place, a vision of a city as a human habitat that is part of a bioregion, both shaped by the land and shaping it. The book begins with the premise that only by such a paradigm shift, by our willingness to re-imagine the nature of the city, can we restore a balance between the city and nature. Understanding the history of a place helps us to envision its future, as we restore lost or fragmented habitats, recover endangered species, and create a sense of home that weaves nature and culture into a complex tapestry. The book grew out of twenty years of research and nature exploration in my adopted city, where I have lived since 1984.

 

I have given a number of talks on New York’s natural and environmental history, and have created an educational website, https://www.NewYorkNature.us. My essays have appeared in a number of anthologies, most recently, "The Many Lives of Newtown Creek: A New York Story," in Debbie Lee and Kathryn Newfont, eds., The Land Speaks: New Voices at the Intersection of Oral and Environmental History (Oxford UP, 2017).


In addition to nonfiction, I write fiction for young adults. My short story, “The Maize Doll,” was published in The North Atlantic Coast: Stories from Where We Live, edited by Sara St. Antoine (Milkweed Press, 2000, 2004). The life of a Lenape Indian girl is turned upside down by the arrival of the Dutch in New York. The colonists bring profound changes in the land, uprooting the ancient inhabitants. The girl grows into a woman with a healing gift, who befriends a Dutch woman and teaches her about Lenape plant medicine. During this time of upheaval and war, their friendship somehow endures, and each passes on to their daughters the legacy of their friendship.

 

Currently, I am writing a young adult novel set in 1990s Brooklyn, The Memory Rug, a coming-of-age story about a girl who has lost her mother and finds healing through friendship and nature.

 

I have also completed two nonfiction books. Land at the Glacier's Edge is about the nature and natural history of Long Island. Four Seasons on the South Fork: A Naturalist's Year is a nature memoir. Both are now being considered by Cornell University Press.


I received my Ph.D. in American Literature from George Washington University in 1989. I have taught at George Washington University, Hofstra University, New York University, and Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY). At KCC/CUNY I was a professor of English for almost 20 years, and a founder of the Kingsborough Eco-Festival and Environmental Symposium, recipient of the CUNY Sustainability Award. After a teaching career spanning over 30 years, I have retired and now devote myself to writing fulltime.