Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

11. Introducing “Eco” to the Homies: A Liberal Professor’s Activist Approach

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Mark Spitzer [+-]
University of Central Arkansas
Mark Spitzer is Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of 18 books, ranging from memoirs to novels to literary translations and collections of poetry. He is the editor of the award-winning Toad Suck Review (, a professor of creative writing, an authority on the notorious gar fish (See River Monsters, alligator gar episode), and the world expert on the poetry of Jean Genet. Other recent titles include the poetry collection, Inflammatosis: Polemic Poetry, Incendiary Prose, and Other Extremes of Love and War (Six Gallery Press, 2018); the young adult and children’s literature title, The Crabby Old Gar (Subversive Muse Press, 2018); the novel, Viva Arletty! Our Lady of the Egrets (Six Gallery Press, 2017); the nonfiction work, Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (University of Nebraska Press, 2017); the literary translation The Genet Translations: Poetry and Posthumous Plays (Polemic Press, 2015), and the memoir, After the Octopus (Black Mountain Press, 2014).


As planetary temperatures and sea levels rise, I reflect on why teaching environmental subject matter is so urgent these days. Following that, I review the syllabus, which lists work by Bill McKibbin, Al Gore, Charles Bukowski, Robert Hass, Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, Edward Abbey, Antler, Galway Kinnell, Frank Stanford, Dave Foreman, and the documentaries The 11th Hour, Gasland, and parts 1 and 2 of Cadillac Desert. The idea of “environmental writing” is contrasted to the pastoral tradition of “nature writing,” and then I dissect the Greek and Lower Latin forms of the word “eco” (home) along with the tradition of eco-writing, which goes back to The Gilgamesh Epic. Henry David Thoreau’s vision of the division between “Wildness” and “civilization” is considered, and so are the frightening facts of climate change, increasingly destructive weather patterns, overpopulation, food shortages, fossil-fuel dependency, voluntary “self-regulation,” mass extinction, nuclear proliferation, the Whole Fracking Enchilada! A real cheery, positive piece to drive home the message that if we don’t have an environment, we ain’t got squat.

Notify A Colleague


Spitzer, Mark. 11. Introducing “Eco” to the Homies: A Liberal Professor’s Activist Approach. Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 141-150 Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781797181. Date accessed: 21 Feb 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34900. Jan 2020

Dublin Core Metadata