The Scientist as Rebel: Freeman Dyson
In the middle of Quark Park, an orange-red sundial rises in benign splendor, marking the most illusory of measurements: time. A simple construct really, a sculpted piece of metal positioned at an angle to meet the sun’s rays. Steel and sunlight, play of light and shadow, creating a column of darkness that brushes in unceasing rhythm across the earth.
At eighty-two, Freeman Dyson, the physicist for whom the sundial was created, knows a thing or two about time and how it is measured. Trained as a mathematician, but in his words, “working more as a physicist who dabbles in biology, theology, and various other things,” Dyson’s quiet demeanor and courtly manner instantly charm his visitors.
This month, Dyson, retired professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, winner of the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion, will publish his latest book, The Scientist as Rebel (New York Review Books). In his new book, Dyson explores the lives of scientists and their work, including Isaac Newton’s fascination with physics, alchemy, theology, and politics, and his own relationship with the physicists Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Feynman.
On a sunny afternoon, Dyson gets up from behind his desk to welcome visitors to his office. He has spent the morning editing the galleys of his new book, but among papers, pens, pencils, and photographs of his family sits a copy of Virginia Woolf’s exquisite meditation on time and love, To the Lighthouse, one of the latest books on Dyson’s reading list.
One doesn’t have to spend much time with Dyson to see that his interests range far beyond science.
You are as much a Renaissance man as you are a scientist.
Well, I’m really a generalist. Since I retired, I’ve spent most of my life here at the Institute for Advanced Study doing all kinds of things. I have the privilege of jumping around from one subject to another, and at this point in my life, I write books. I did mostly science until the age of fifty, then after that I’ve been mainly writing books for the general public, doing science on the side. Now I’ve reached the age of eighty-two—still going strong, and waiting to see what I’ll do next.
For your folly at Quark Park, you’ve paired with physicist and congressman Rush Holt who monitored nuclear programs in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union.
I admire and love Rush Holt. I can’t imagine how he has time for this since he’s busy getting re-elected. But I’m very grateful to him for giving us any time at all. When we met at his home, he was chatting away as if he had not a care in the world. He makes the difficult job he has look easy.
Although you’ve lived In Princeton for many years, you were born in England.
Yes, in a little town called Crowthorne. It’s become famous because they have a software company there, which makes software for traffic light systems used all over the world. So every time you get into a traffic jam you can blame Crowthorne. Otherwise I think it’s an undistinguished village about fifty miles west of London. I came to America after World War Two to study physics, and somehow got stuck here.
In your memoir, Disturbing the Universe, you write in depth about your parents. How did their backgrounds influence your choice to become a mathematician, and then a physicist?
I was lucky with my parents who were very lively people. My mother was forty-three when I was born, and I remember them as being gray-haired even from early times. Of course they were wonderful intellectual companions. They never romped around with me, but they talked, and that was what really mattered. My father was a professional musician and composer. He’s been dead forty years. In spite of that, his works are still going strong and he makes more money from his compositions than I make from my books.
My mother was trained as a lawyer. By the time I came around, she had retired, but she was given to social work. She ran a birth control clinic at a time when that was not considered respectable. In many ways she was a lively character, and very strongly interested in literature. So my literary education mostly came from her.
Both my parents had some interest in science so we had plenty of popular science on the shelf. Most of what I learned about science came from books.
You also write about your experience in World War Two, how it changed your view about war, who the enemy is, and who might become the enemy. How has it influenced your work?
World War Two began when I was fifteen, and of course this dominated our lives. As a teenager I forgot that there had ever been peace. The fashionable thing for kids, at that time, was to become militant pacifists. So I became one. Pacifism was a strong rebellion against the war and everything associated with it.
I don’t regret my teenage idealism. I think in many ways our instincts were sound. Although, of course, in the actual circumstances of that war, pacifism didn’t make any sense. If you had religion, however, it was possible to say, ‘I’m a religious pacifist, and I won’t have any thing to do with war.’
But as a political program, it made no sense to say that England should make peace. That wasn’t an option. In the end, since I wasn’t a religious pacifist, I was a political pacifist. Eventually I came around and decided that England wasn’t such a bad place and we were putting up a pretty good fight, and I might as well join in.
Where did you serve?
I was very lucky. I never had to fight. I never went into the army. Instead, in 1943, when the war was two-thirds over, I was put into a civilian job working for the air force. It was an extraordinarily tragic experience. I was at the headquarters of the British Bomber Command doing what was called Operational Research. It meant that I studied operations as they happened.
Of course, Bomber Command’s campaign was a tragedy from every point of view. It was enormously destructive of civilian lives, but did essentially no real military damage to the Germans. From a military point of view, it was more costly to us than it was to them. The Bomber Command by itself cost something like one quarter of Britain’s entire war expenditures.
We produced thousands and thousands of these heavy bombers, and sent thousands and thousands of young men to get killed. The damage we did to Germany was very large, but not comparable to what it actually cost us. So the program, from the military point of view was a real flop. And, of course, from a human point of view you might say that it was a war crime, or a tragedy, depending upon how you look at.
Can you give an example?
The most famous example is Dresden, which was the biggest single massacre we caused during the war. We killed about a hundred thousand people in February 1945 when the war was essentially over, and when destroying an additional city made no sense.
So that was the war as I saw it. I had a frontline view seeing how the plans were made and what we actually accomplished. And it became more and more sickening as the days went on. In the end, of course, the soldiers on the ground won the war, not the bombers.
You saw war firsthand, and what it could cause. But you ended up working with people involved in the creation of the first nuclear bomb.
When the Manhattan Project was going on, I was still in England and didn’t know it existed. I first learned about nuclear weapons on the day of Hiroshima, and ever since, of course, I’ve been interested in nuclear weapons. First of all, as a scientific problem they are intellectually very interesting.
But they affect human beings.
Well it’s a profound problem. How can we deal with nuclear weapons? How can the world exist with them? That’s a problem I’ve been working on for most of my career, and it’s still one of our toughest. I think we’ve done amazingly well to have gotten through sixty years after Hiroshima without exploding another nuclear weapon in anger. And I’m really impressed with the fact that there are so few nuclear countries.
When we started thinking about this in 1945, everybody more or less agreed that there would be about fifty nuclear countries before the end of the twentieth century. That was sort of the reasonable guess, since it’s not that difficult to make nuclear weapons. The amazing thing is that instead of fifty countries, we have only eight or nine.
Why so few?
I think the reason for this is because most countries have more sense than we have. Most countries have understood that this is not a game you want to get into. It’s essentially a cause of headaches. And it doesn’t make you secure. It only makes life more dangerous. So I think we can be grateful to all the governments who could have built nuclear weapons, but didn’t.
You say that working with nuclear weapons is an interesting intellectual problem. Why?
Well, of course it’s interesting because it’s something very new. It’s not obvious how to make the thing work efficiently. So I’m not surprised that people get trapped by it. It’s sort of like an addiction. If you are good at it, it’s very hard to let go. So lots of people in various countries around the world are still in love with nuclear weapons. And it’s a fact, which we have to deal with. In this country we have three weapons laboratories, at least two too many. Of course they’re competing with each other and there are lots of bright people there. It’s a big temptation to invent new things for them to do.
You knew Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, often called “father of the atomic bomb,” pretty well.
Oppenheimer was my boss. He was the director of the Institute when I arrived, and was largely responsible for my being here. I worked here under his auspices for about twenty years, but I never actually worked with him. He wasn’t doing science much in those years because by that time he was a world public figure and elder statesman so he ran the Institute with his left hand and traveled around the world a great deal.
Scientists have always collaborated at the international level. Given the tension between the U.S. and countries like Iran, do you see that changing?
Of course not. Science has always been international, and it still is. That’s one of the great things about science, which is one of the reasons why I went into it in the first place. It’s a wonderful international club. When you’re a scientist, you have friends everywhere. You can talk the same language whether it’s broken English, or broken Chinese, or broken Russian, or broken Iranian. So we have friends and colleagues in places like Iran.
What has happened is that I make a sharp distinction between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Peaceful nuclear energy, which I believe is good, is quite different from nuclear weapons. When nuclear power first became declassified, all the countries involved had a big meeting in Geneva. And the scientists told each other the secrets. That was in 1955, and it was a wonderful get-together.
How did it affect you?
After that, I began working at a company called General Atomic in California, which is still going strong. In fact, I designed a nuclear reactor with tremendous help from my Iranian friend Massoud Simnad. Massoud was actually a metallurgist who was a wizard with nuclear materials, and he made the thing work. I designed the physics and he designed the chemistry and metallurgy. Together we were a good team, and the reactor was built and I think we sold about seventy-five of them. It’s still working around the world and we’re very proud of that.
The fact that Massoud happened to Iranian made no difference at all. And of course there were others in Iran like him. The idea that Iranians are somehow lacking in scientific talent is absurd. And I’m impressed with the fact that they haven’t built any bombs by now. They easily could have. All that is lacking in these countries, which don’t have bombs, is the mania that drives them to do it.
Now, of course, we’re pushing them hard in that direction. But, anyway, we’ll see what happens. I think there’s no doubt that Iran could easily build bombs if they wanted to. I wouldn’t regard that as a disaster because they probably would handle them as well as anybody else.
You were also involved with the space program.
I’ve been very much interested in space and I worked on a big space project in the 50s called Orion, which was a nuclear spacecraft that would have gone around the solar system in grand style propelled by nuclear bombs. That was a big dream from which I have very happy memories. But, I also think it’s just as well we never got the green light to build Orion.
It seems that you and your colleagues, all young scientists at the time, felt that the future was beyond our planet.
Oh, it’s still true of course. We now have a magnificent space program, but it doesn’t involve as many people as we once needed. We have twenty or thirty spacecraft from different countries doing a wonderful job exploring the universe. But what’s changed is that you don’t need people out there to do it. We have extremely capable instruments, extremely good communications. You can observe the moons of Saturn and what goes on there without the trouble and expense of going. It’s a much better way of doing it. You might say it spoils the fun, but not really.
Has anything about the solar system recently crossed your desk that a layperson might not know?
Anything secrets, you mean?
If there were, would you tell?
Well, there are no secrets as far as I know. But there is a huge amount being discovered. One of the places I’m interested in is Enceledus, one of the moons of Saturn. When I was doing the space project in 1958, we planned to land there.
We wanted to go to Enceledus because we knew we could refuel there. It’s conspicuously bright white so it must be made of snow, at least on the surface. To everyone’s surprise, in the last few months we’ve discovered that it has a waterspout at the South Pole, which is like a huge geyser spilling out steam and spray 200 km high. We have pictures of this geyser and also some pictures of strange hot trenches on the surface.
There’s something weird going on underneath. Everyone imagined Enceledus to be just a ball of very cold snow. Instead, it seems to be one of the hottest places in the solar system. So that’s the kind of thing we’re finding out. The Cassini Mission is going around the moons of Saturn and observing them in detail, which is what we had planned to do with our spaceship. In those days we thought of ourselves as just trudging around on the moons of Saturn with notebooks and writing this all down, never imagining that you could actually send pictures.
Well, back in those days anything was possible, right?
That’s the beauty of it. In another fifty years, if people do go to Enceledus, they’ll be doing things we never imagined.
Can you talk a little bit about mathematics? You write so eloquently about your love for it.
Mathematics has been a passport for me, a union card, whatever you like to call it. Something I can’t remember not being in love with. When I was three years old, I started calculating, and I’ve gone on ever since. I just fell in love with numbers. So that’s my skill, and that’s all I really have to work with.
The miracle of it is that mathematics turns out to be the language nature talks. It’s something quite mysterious and we don’t understand why. I remember the extraordinary experience when I was twenty-four, and I came to America. And I did my first serious calculation applying mathematics to physics. It was a calculation measuring how an electron behaves in a hydrogen atom, and it was extremely complicated. I remember I scribbled and scribbled, pages and pages and pages. At the end of it all, there came a number. And then that was the theory, which I had worked out.
There was a character at Columbia University who had actually done an experiment with electrons. His name was Polycarp Kusch, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1955. Kusch measured what an electron actually did, and he got the same number as my equation. And I was amazed that this scribbling of the equation somehow tells how an electron works, and what it has to do. So that’s been my life story. All the time I’m doing these calculations and it turns out it actually means something in the real world.
In Disturbing the Universe, you include a quote from a letter Robert Oppenheimer sent to you. You write, “He wrote to me as usual, critically, quoting a Hungarian proverb: ‘It’s not enough to be impolite, one must also be wrong.’” Given the context of your work with nuclear energy and what’s going on in the world today, what does the quote mean to you?
I suppose it means if you are only arguing about manners, then your argument doesn’t have much substance. If you really want to make progress you have to prove that somebody is wrong, rather than proving he’s just impolite. I think that’s basically what he had in mind. Of course he said it in a paradoxical way.
But, I think this applies, for example, to the Bush administration. This is an obvious example. The Bush administration is extraordinarily insensitive and impolite in all sorts of ways. Why do you call Iran the axis of evil? It’s just a gratuitous insult that means nothing. But worse than that, it’s also wrong. I mean in fact there’s a great deal of good in Iran. By the way, did you see the film “The Color of Paradise?” It’s an Iranian film and came out quite recently. It describes the real Iran, which of course is totally different from the Iran you see in the newspapers. For one thing it’s green. But, I think that’s what the proverb means. It’s not just bad manners, the whole idea is wrong.
At Quark Park, you’re in the company of an extraordinary group of scientists. It’s rare to gather such a diverse cross section of disciplines together. How do you feel about science in this country right now? How it’s recognized, who’s studying it, and where it’s going?
Of course it’s doing very well, but I should tell you another story. I belong to a committee that deals with biological hazards. We’re trying to give advice to the government about how to deal with biohazards, and we wanted to have an international meeting here. It was nothing secret, but half the scientists couldn’t get visas for the United States, so we all got a free trip to Mexico.
By making it so difficult and very often impossible for people to get visas, we’re cutting this country off from international science, which could really be a disaster. Luckily there are some strong movements now to repair the damage. But there hasbeen a lot of damage. These visa rules are just deadly because science depends completely on being international.
Anyway, we all got a wonderful trip to Cuernavaca, which is the headquarters of the Mexican Health Research Institute. And, of course they were laughing about how the United States was no longer a player on the international scene. That isn’t true, but it could be if we go on this way.
In the meantime I think we’re doing pretty well. Although, there’s no doubt that cutting yourself off from the world is absolutely fatal.
What projects are you working on now? And what do you see for the future?
In the course of day-to-day activities, I’m correcting proofs of my forthcoming book, and answering a lot of email. I’m not doing much science, but I like to feel that I’m still a scientist. And so I do have a science project, which I work on a little bit when I have time to spare. And that project is gravitons.
What are gravitons?
I don’t want to give a lecture, but I find gravitons to be fascinating.
There’s a prevailing dogma among scientists these days that you have to unify everything. And of course they want to unify quantum mechanics with gravitation. And, of course, that’s a big theme of theoretical science. They want to produce something called quantum gravity. And, if you had a theory of quantum gravity—which we don’t—then there would exist a particle called a graviton, a quantum of gravity.
Well, I raise a question. Does quantum gravity make sense? You could say I’m advancing a heretical view—because I love to be a heretic—that in fact gravitons don’t mean anything. If there were such a thing as a graviton, there is no way in which you could detect it. Therefore, it’s physically meaningless.
And so, this is my little hobby. I don’t claim to have proved anything, but at least I raised the question. So if my view turns out to be true that nature doesn’t want to be unified, I might, in fact, make quite a difference to the way science is done. I don’t know whether I’ll be around when this is decided.
Maybe you’ll be in the ether somewhere.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I think we’ve been here long enough, but thank you very much.
In 2006, Joy E. Stocke founded Wild River Review with Kimberly Nagy, an outgrowth of the literary magazine, The Bucks County Writer, of which Stocke was Editor in Chief. In 2009, as their editorial practice grew, Stocke and Nagy founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.
With more than twenty-five years experience as a writer and journalist, Stocke works with many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
In addition, Stocke has shepherded numerous writers into print. She has interviewed Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk and Muhammud Yunus, Pulitzer Prizewinner Paul Muldoon, Paul Holdengraber, host of LIVE from the NYPL; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center; anthropologist and expert on end of life care, Mary Catherine Bateson; Ivonne Baki, President of the Andean Parliament; and Templeton Prizewinner Freeman Dyson among others.
In 2006, along with Nagy, Stocke interviewed scientists and artists including former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Dean of Faculty, David P. Dobkin for the documentary Quark Park, chronicling the creation of an award-winning park built on a vacant lot in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey; a park that united art, science and community.
She is president of the Board of Directors at the Cabo Pulmo Learning Center, Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico; and is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.
In addition, Stocke has written extensively about her travels in Greece and Turkey. Her memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses & Saints, based on more than ten years of travel through Turkey, co-written with Angie Brenner was published in March 2012. Her cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking will be published in March, 2017 by Quarto Books under the Burgess Lea Press imprint . Stocke and Brenner are currently testing recipes for a companion book, which will feature Anatolian-inspired mezes from around the world.
Stocke’s essay “Turkish American Food” appears in the 2nd edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (OUP, 2013). The volume won both International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for Beverage/Reference/Technical category, 2014; and the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.
She is the author of a bi-lingual book of poems, Cave of the Bear, translated into Greek by Lili Bita based on her travels in Western Crete, and is currently researching a book about the only hard-finger coral reef in Mexico on the Baja Sur Peninsula. She has been writing about environmental issues there since 2011.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the Agriculture Journalism School where she also received a minor of Food Science, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with cultural philosopher, poet and historian, William Irwin Thompson. In 2009, she became a Lindisfarne Fellow.
Works by Joy E. Stocke in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
COLUMNS – THE MYSTIC PEN
FOOD & DRINK – ANATOLIAN KITCHEN
FREYMAN & PETERSON- Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir
LITERATURE – BOOK REVIEWS
LITERATURE – ESSAYS
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
The Euphoria of Ignorance: Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish, The Paradox of Being Carlo Ginzburg
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
Paul Holdengraber – The Afterlife of Conversation
2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
Critical Minds, Social Revolution: Egyptian Activist Nawal El Saadawi
INTERVIEW – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
New York City – Parade of Illuminations: Behind the Scenes with Festival Director Jakab Orsos
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom — Featuring..
Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library Composing a Further Life: with Mary Catherine Bateson
WRR@LARGE: From the Editors – UP THE CREEK
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 1
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 2.5
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 3.3
Up the Creek: Number 4.4
Up the Creek: Beautiful Solutions
Up the Creek: Blind Faith, July 2009
Up the Creek: Create Dangerously
Up the Creek: What Price Choice?
Up the Creek: Before and After: September 11, 2001
Up the Creek: Candle in a Long Street
Up the Creek: Crossing Cultures: Transcending History
Up the Creek: Man in the Mirror; A Map of the World
Up the Creek: Stories and the Shape of Time
Up the Creek: The Divine Road To Istanbul
Up the Creek: What It Means to Yearn
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
UNESCO World Heritage Site Under Threat of Mega-Devlopment Sparks International Protests
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One: The Detainees’ Quest For Justice
The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul
WRR@LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
WRR@LARGE – WILD FINANCE
WRR@LARGE – SLOW WEB
WRR@LARGE – WRR BOOKS
In 2006, Kimberly Nagy founded Wild River Review with Joy E. Stocke; and in 2009, they founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC. With more than twenty years in the field of publishing, Nagy specializes in market outreach and digital media strategies as well as crafting timeless articles and interviews. She edits many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
Kimberly Nagy is a poet, professional writer, and dedicated reader who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers, including Academy-Award winning filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll, MacArthur Genius Award-winning Edwidge Danticat, historian James McPherson, playwright Emily Mann, biologist and novelist, Sunetra Gupta and philosopher Alain de Botton.
Nagy is an author, editor and professional storyteller. She received her BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record. During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy wrote her Masters thesis, focusing on the work of the first woman to be accepted into the Connecticut Historical Society as well as literary descriptions of Native Americans in Connecticut during the 19th century. Nagy has extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
After graduate school, Nagy applied her academic expertise to a career in publishing, in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers—Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton—as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Kimberly Nagy in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
ARTS – FILM REVIEWS
ARTS – MUSIC
ARTS – PHOTOGRAPHY
The Triple Goddess Trials: Fire in the Head: Brigit’s Mysterious Spark
The Triple Goddess Trials: Introduction
The Triple Goddess Trials – Meeting Virginia Woolf at the Strand
The Triple Goddess Trials: Me and Medusa
The Triple Goddess Trials: Aphrodite and the Lightbulb Factory
The Triple Goddess Trials: Goddess of Milk and Honey
The Triple Goddess Trials: Kali’s Ancient Love Song
ASHLEY – Renee Ashley: A Voice Answering a Voice
BELLI – Giocanda Belli – The Page is My Home
BOLL – Pamela Tanner Boll: Dangerous Women: An Interview with Academy Award Winner Pamela Tanner Boll
DANTICAT – Create Dangerously- A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat
CHARBONNEAU – A Cruise Along the Inside Track: With Le Mobile’s Sound Recording Legend Guy Charbonneau
de BOTTON – The Art of Connection: A Conversation with Alain de Botton
GUPTA – Suneptra Gupta – The Elements of Style: The Novelist and Biologist Discusses Metaphor and Science
HANDAL – Nathalie Handal – Love and Strange Horses
KHWAJA – Waqas Khwaja: What a Difference a Word Makes
MAURO: New World Monkeys: An Interview with Nancy Mauro
MORGANSing, Live, & Love Like You Mean It: An Interview with Bertha Morgan
MOSS – Practical Mystic–Robert Moss: On Book Families, Jung and How Dreams Can Save Your Soul
OGLINE – BEN FRANKLIN.COM: Author & Illustrator Tim Ogline explains why Ben Franklin would be a technology evangelist today
OLSEN – Greg Olsen – Reaching for the Stars: Scientist, Entrepreneur and Space Traveler
PALYA – Beata Palya – The Secret World of Songs
SCHIMMEL – Moonlight Science: A Conversation with Molecular Biologist and Entrepreneur, Paul Schimmel
SHORS – Journey into the Male & Female Brain: An Interview with Tracey Shors
von MOLTKE and SIMMS – Dorothy von Moltke and Cliff Simms: Why Independent Bookstores Matter, Part I
WARD – On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part One, and
On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part Two
WILKES – Labor of Love: An Interview With Architect Kevin Wilkes
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library at 100: From the Stacks to the Streets
Paul Holdengraber: The Afterlife of Conversation
That Email Changed My Life: Rolex Arts Initiative. Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Tracy K. Smith Celebrates Rolex Arts Initiative
First Editions / Second Thoughts — Defending Writers: PEN and Christie’s Raise One Million Dollars to Support Freedom of Expression
ON AFRICA: May 4 to May 10 — Behind the Scenes with Director Jakab Orsos: Co-curated by Award-Winning Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Page is My Home: Giaconda Belli – Nicaraguan Poet, Writer and Public Intellectual
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
The Power of Conversation: David Grossman and Nadine Gordimer – The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
NEW FROM WILD RIVER BOOKS – Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library
Wild River Books Announces the Stoutsburg Cemetery Project: The Untold Stories of an African American Burial Ground in New Jersey
Wild River Books: Surprise Encounters by Scott McVay
Wild River Review and Minerva’s Bed & Breakfast Presents – “BITTER” Writing in a Weekend: How to Write About the Things We Can’t Change
ALLEN – Quarks, Parks, and Science in Everyday Life: Filmmaker Chris Allen’s Documentary Where Art Meets Science in a Vacant Lot
HOLT – Rush Holt: An Interview with Rush Holt
MANN – Boundless Theater: An Interview with Emily Mann
Keeping Time: A Conversation with Historian James McPherson
VOICE FROM SYRIA
WRR at LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
Cool Chick is an inspired force of literary nature — a lifelong writer who is dedicated to the wild river school of writing.
Educated at Wild River Community College, later attending Wild River University, Cool Chick is working on her PhD in changing the world – one story at a time.
Type designer, librarian, and systems engineer, Saad D. Abulhab, was born in 1958 in Sacramento, California, and grew up in Iraq. Residing in the US since 1979, he is currently Director of Technology of the Newman Library of Baruch College, the City University of New York. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University, and a Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences from Pratt Institute, both in Brooklyn. Involved since 1992 in the field of Arabetic computing and typography, he is most noted for his non-traditional type designs and the Mutamathil type style which was awarded a US Utility Patent in 2003. Designed more that 16 fonts families since 1998 and wrote several articles in the field of Arabetic typography and scripts.
ALL ARTICLES BY SAAD ABULHAB:
Opal Palmer Adisa, Ph. D, diverse and multi-genre, is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of the Caribbean. Writer of both poetry and prose, playwright/director, professor, educator and cultural activist, Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Germany, Spain, France, England and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia. An award-winning poet and prose writer, Adisa has sixteen titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), that Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults.
She has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assis, Italy), El Gounda (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil) and McColl Center, (North Carolina) and Headlines Center for the Arts (California, USA). Opal Palmer Adisa’s work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (Color Purple), who described her work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.”
Following in the tradition of the African “griot” Opal Palmer Adisa, an accomplished storyteller, commands the mastery and extraordinary talent of storytelling, exemplary of her predecessors. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.
A gifted diversity trainer, literary critic, and proud mother of three accomplished children, Opal is the former parenting editor and host of KPFA Radio Parenting show in Berkley, California. Columnist for The Graduate Parent for the “Healthy You,” website and wrote a bi-monthly poetry column for The Daily News, St. Thomas. Adisa has published hundreds of articles on different aspects of parenting, writing and poetry and is currently completing a book on effective parenting.
A Distinguished professor of creative writing and literature in the MFA program at California College of the Arts, where she teaches in the Fall. She has been a visiting professor at several universities including, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of the Virgin Islands. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence Magazine. She has also conducted workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prison and juvenile centers.
Opal Palmer Adisa is a vivacious, motivational speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you with her words.
Phyllis Carol Agins’ fiction includes two novels: Suisan and Never the Same River Twice, as well as numerous short stories, published in Kalliope, Paragraph, and Lilith Magazine (Fall ‘06), among other journals. Her children’s book, Sophie’s Name, has been in print since 1990, and she also co-authored One God, Sixteen Houses, an architectural study. For many years, she served on the board of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and taught writing at Penn State Abington. Lately, she divides her time between Fairmont Park and the Mediterranean coast. She has completed a comic novel about young widowhood and is polishing a literary mystery centering on the Shakespeare authorship question. Her next book will follow a Jewish family as they leave Algeria to make a new life in France and America.
Angela Ajayi spent over ten years in publishing, mainly as a book editor, until she became a freelance writer. She holds a BA from Calvin College and an MA from Columbia University. Her essays and author interviews have appeared in the Star Tribune and Afroeuropa: Journal of Afro-European Studies. She currently writes book reviews for The Common Online. Her first short story, “Galina,” will be published by Fifth Wednesday Journal this fall. She likes to think she defies easy categorization, identifying through birth and citizenship as a Nigerian-Ukrainian-American writer. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter.
All Articles by Angela Ajayi
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (English Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (French Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Kenya’s Unrest: An Interview with the Kenyan Poet Mukoma Wa Ngugi
PEN WORLD VOICES
Everything Is Complicated: An Interview With Nadia Kalman
On Reading and Writing in the Future and Now – Blogs, Twitter, and the Kindle
Literature, Life and Death: On the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture by Umberto Eco
In Spite of the Gun: Remembering Ken Saro-wiwa, Nigerian Writer and Activist
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
Bill Alexander is a published fiction writer for Venture Magazine, Spectrum Magazine, and Drumbeat Magazine. As an intern for Wild River Review, he contributes to the column Wild Table, sharing his thoughts and insights on food and culture. Born and raised in New Jersey and a New Orleanian at heart, Bill is an avid storyteller and devoted writer who believes strongly in originality over faddism.
Works by Bill Alexander
Chris Allen became interested in filmmaking during High School, and has pursued it ever since. He studied Bhakti Yoga (which he still practices) in Chicago before receiving a degree in Film and Television from New York University. After raising three children and producing videos in corporate America, Allen started his own film company, Open Sky Cinema, writing and producing documentaries. They include “The Delaware and Raritan Canal,” “Lost Princeton,” “A Warm and Loving Look — The Poetry of Stephen Kalinich,” and “Open Sky.”
In his documentary, “Quark Park,” Allen filmed and interviewed dozens of scientists, artists, sculptors, landscape architects, and architects in collaboration with Quark Park’s creators Peter Soderman, Kevin Wilkes; and with the Wild River Review.
Works by Chris Allen
Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry: Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize); Basic Heart (winner of the 2008 X.J.Kennedy Poetry Prize); The Revisionist’s Dream; The Various Reasons of Light; and Salt (Brittingham Prize in Poetry, University of Wisconsin Press), as well as a novel, Someplace Like This, and two chapbooks, The Museum of Lost Wings and The Verbs of Desiring. Ashley teaches poetry in the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and across the genres in the MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators. She has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in both poetry and prose and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation in Penn Station, Manhattan, by the artist Larry Kirkland. She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and, for seven years, as Poetry Editor of The Literary Review. Her new collection, The View from the Body, was published by Black Lawrence Press in March 2016.