CFAC Media Office    

Environmental author and "extreme birdwatcher" David Gessner will be on the University of Central Arkansas campus as artist in residence to give a reading at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in room 107 of the College of Business building.    

He will read from his books Sick of Nature and Return of the Osprey, the first being a treatise on the new direction of eco-writing in American literature and the latter being a gritty, fast-paced study of a fascinating raptor. Gessner’s reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.    

Mark Spitzer, assistant professor of writing at UCA, said he was looking forward to Gessner’s visit.    

"He’s an expert speaker; he’ll talk and talk and keep the students interested," Spitzer said. "People usually think, ‘Oh, bird watching, that’ll be exciting,’ but Gessner injects his life and his experiences into his writing, which makes people interested."     

In addition to the reading, Gessner will teach two master classes on Oct. 12 in Winfred Thompson Hall room 331. The first class will go from 12:15-1:15 p.m., with the second from 2:40-3:40. The first class will focus on Gessner’s recent reporting on the Gulf Oil spill and writing for blogs and books; the second will cover how to generate ideas for writing and how to create momentum, as well as how to make "nature writing" new by opening it up with active language, humor, and vivid details. Gessner’s books will also be on sale during the master classes.    

All events are free and opening to the public.    

Lately, Gessner has been embedded on the Gulf Coast studying the effects of the oil spill, including the actual amount of oil spilling into the Gulf each day and the toxicity of the chemical dispersants. Gessner’s findings were released online long before the national media reported that the public wasn’t getting the full story.      

Gessner isn’t the typical drab nature writer people usually think of when they consider environmental writing.  In his novel Sick of Nature, he calls for a new style of writing to bring the genre back to life. Spitzer describes his writing style as "a gritty, beer-infused introspection on what makes us hate and love elements of our environment."     

The Artist in Residence program is funded by UCA’s arts fee and is administered by the College of Fine Arts and Communication. For more information, call the Office of the Dean, College of Fine Arts and Communication, at 501-450-3293 or e-mail