13. From Wild People to Wilderness: An Education in Researching Monsters in Our Midst

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 (toadsuckreview.org), 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).


Originally presented as a PowerPoint talk for the students and faculty of Marist College in New York State, this chapter traces my personal investigative odyssey in the areas of art history and world lit to its final destination in environmental fish research. As a sort of abbreviated Bildungsroman, the evolution of a research aesthetic is outlined through recurring thematic images and icons in medieval and Renaissance history. The research of Dr. Timothy Husband and Dr. Edward Savage is referenced along with the Marburger Index, and The Gilgamesh Epic is revisited with a side of Thoreau. Bruegel, Amiri Baraka, and King Nebuchadnezzar, which ultimately explains my connection and commitment to the environment. An excerpt from the conclusion of my last fish book notes cutting-edge research by Diane Ackerman, Al Gore, Len Ornstein, and Jeffrey Sachs, which support a resonating activist message. Multiple images are included in this chapter.

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Spitzer, Mark. 13. From Wild People to Wilderness: An Education in Researching Monsters in Our Midst. Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781797181. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34902. Date accessed: 14 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34902. Jan 2020

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