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Gretel Erhlich, photo: Jack Swenson/Expedition Gallery
Gretel Ehrlich


NYS Writers Institute, March 12, 2013
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus


Gretel Ehrlich, noted poet and winner of the 2010 Thoreau Prize for nature writing, will read from and discuss her new book on the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent nuclear meltdown, on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

"I never took a writing class, I just read." (3:06)

Gretel Ehrlich,
notable poet, travel and nature writer, is the author most recently of Facing the Wave (2013), an account of her travels in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. A student of Japanese poetry for much of her life, Gretel Ehrlich felt compelled to return to Japan to bear witness and record the stories of survivors.

Gretel ErhlichIn a Booklist review, Donna Seamon said, “Ehrlich’s invaluable chronicle subtly raises questions about coastal disasters, global warming, and nuclear power, as the beauty and precision of her prose and her profound and knowledgeable insights into nature’s might and matters spiritual and cultural evoke a deep state of awe and sympathy.” The Elle reviewer called it, “A riveting mosaic of reportage and reflection,” and the New York Review of Books asserted that “Ms. Ehrlich’s book adds flesh and soul and spirit to the bare bones of news reporting, filling the void left by the media and reminding us that real people live behind the headlines.”

Winner of PEN New England’s 2010 Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing, Ehrlich is the author of numerous works about her explorations of diverse environments, including western China, Wyoming and— in particular— the “high Arctic” and Greenland, where she has spent much of the last two decades. Her many books include The Solace of Open Spaces (1985), a meditation on the Wyoming landscape that is widely regarded as a modern classic, Arctic Heart: A Poem Cycle (1992), This Cold Heaven (2001), and The Future of Ice (2004).

In 2010, she published In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape (2010, National Geographic Books), a first-hand encounter with the peoples who inhabit the full circumference of the Arctic Circle. Author Annie Dillard called it, “A riveting story… told with passion, precision, economy, and grace.” Booklist called it a “deeply knowledgeable and beautifully composed elegy to a ‘ruined paradise.’”

The survivor of a 1991 lightning strike, Ehrlich chronicled her long and painful recovery in the 1994 book, A Match to the Heart.  The New York Times Book Review said, “This eclectic chronicle of recovery offers excursions into neurobiology, cardiology, the lore and science of lightning, and the medical literature of lightning injury… [with] evocative writing and lots of fascinating facts.” The Los Angeles Times Book Review called it, “A dazzling work of art.”

Ehrlich’s work has also appeared in many anthologies including The Best American Essays of the Century (2001, edited by Joyce Carol Oates),and The Best Travel Writing (2001, edited by Paul Theroux). Her many awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and two Expedition Council Grants from the National Geographic Society for circumpolar travel in the high Arctic.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.