Tag Archives: The Songs of Trees

The Songs of Trees, published today

New book, published today:

After five years of growth in the underground humus of writing and editing, The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors has lifted its leaves into the sunlight.

Ed Yong, writing this morning in The Atlantic.com, gives a great overview of the book.

You can purchase the book at bookstores or online. Many libraries have copies on the shelves. Links to bookstores:

IndieBound (connect to local bookstores), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, iBooks

Over several years I visited a dozen trees, sitting with each to listen to its story. The trees are located in very different places – the Amazon rainforest, Shakerag Hollow in Sewanee, the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, a city park in Denver, an ancient hearth in Scotland – but they all, in their own ways, tell of life’s surprising interconnections.

The book’s web pages have more information about the book, including sound clips, photographs, a Q&A, and advance praise from writers and scientists. Outside Magazine just published a profile of my work by Paul Kvinta, featuring the Manhattan street tree that I befriend in one of the book’s chapters.

I hope you’ll enjoy these tales of biology and human culture. I’d be very grateful if you’d consider sharing news of the book’s publication with friends and family.

With my gratitude,

David

Lectures and readings:

I’ll be speaking at the following venues in the coming months, with more to be announced soon. I’d love to see you there. If you have friends or family who might be interested, please pass along the date.

Tacoma, WA: Slater Museum, University of Puget Sound. April 7th, 2pm.

Tacoma, WA: King’s Books. April 7th, 7pm.

Seattle: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA. April 8th, 7:30pm.

Cambridge/Boston, MA: Arnold Arboretum and Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. 6pm, April 12th, 2017.

Sewanee, TN: University of the South. Convocation Hall. 4:30pm, April 17th.

Chattanooga, TN: Benwood Auditorium, University of Tennessee Chattanooga. April 18th, 7pm. Lecture to benefit Tennessee River Gorge Trust. Hosted by the UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science.

Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi. April 20th, 2017.

Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Audubon and Chattahoochee Nature Center. 6pm, April 22nd, 2017, reservation required. (Location: Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, GA 30075)

Nashville, TN: Parnassus Books. April 30th, 2pm.

Portland, OR: Powell’s Books. May 3rd, 2017. (7:30pm, Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland.)

Denver, CO: Tattered Cover Bookstore. 7pm May 4th, 2017. (LoDo store: 1628 16th Street, Denver)

Point Reyes Station, CA: Point Reyes Books. May 7th, 2017.

San Francisco, CA: California Institute of Integral Studies. May 10th, 2017.

Pasadena, CA: Vroman’s Bookstore. 7pm, May 11th, 2017.

Asheville, NC: Malaprop’s Bookstore. May 31st, 2017.

Easton, MD: Adkins Arboretum. June 8th, 2017. 4pm – 6pm at the Academy Art Museum 106 South Street.

Millbrook, NY: Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. June 9th.

Sewanee, TN: Young Writers’ Conference. July 10th, 2017.

St Louis, MO: Missouri Botanical Garden. July 25th, 2017. Wild Ideas Worth Sharing Speaker Series and Visualizing Biodiversity for a Better World.

Byron Bay, Australia: Byron Bay Writers Festival. August 4-6, 2017.

Canberra, Australia: National Library of Australia. August 9th, 2017.

Bendigo, Australia: Bendigo Writers Festival. August 11-13, 2017.

Nashville, TN: Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN. Oct 13th and 14th, 2017.

Fairlee, VT: Northern Woodlands Conference. The Hulbert Outdoor Center. Oct 20th-22nd, 2017.

Birmingham, AL: Audubon Society. Dec 7th, 2017.

The Songs of Trees, pre-publication comments

The first round of “advance praise” for The Songs of Trees is in. I’m thrilled and humbled that Elizabeth Kolbert, Deborah Blum, Peter Wohlleben, Neil Shea, DJ Spooky, Peter Crane, and Carl Zimmer read the first proofs and shared their thoughts.

“David George Haskell is a wonderful writer and an equally keen observer of the natural world. The Song of Trees is at once lyrical and informative, filled with beauty and also a sense of loss.” Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, staff writer at The New Yorker.

“David George Haskell may be the finest literary nature writer working today. The Songs of Trees – compelling, lyrical, wise – is a case in point. Don’t miss it.” Deborah Blum, Pulitzer winner, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, and director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT.

“Here is a book to nourish the spirit. The Songs of Trees is a powerful argument against the ways in which humankind has severed the very biological networks that give us our place in the world. Listen as David Haskell takes his stethoscope to the heart of nature – and discover the poetry and music contained within.” Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees.

“This book breaks down barriers. At a time when we are constantly asked to choose sides, to dig in, to rally around ever smaller ideas, David Haskell examines the walls that would imprison us and, armed with science and patience, dissolves them. The book is nominally about trees, but it’s really about connections, the networks that link plants, animals, bacteria, humans, and the forces that have made such webs possible. Haskell’s trees are guideposts on a fascinating and refreshing road trip—the sort of listening tour we should require of all politicians. With a poet’s ear and a naturalist’s eye Haskell re-roots us in life’s grand creative struggle and encourages us to turn away from empty individuality. The Songs of Trees reminds us that we are not alone, and never have been.” Neil Shea, writer and photographer for National Geographic and other publications.

“This book makes you remember the fragile nature of humanity’s relationship to the world around us. David Haskell has opened up a new dimension in sound – and given us a powerful tool to rethink the way we look at the roots of our reality and how trees are the best way to guide us. A tour de force of sound and symbol. Read. Listen. Learn.” Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky

“David Haskell writes with uncommon insight and sensitivity: listening and giving voice to the ineluctable networks in which trees and all human experiences are embedded.” Sir Peter Crane, FRS, President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, author of Ginkgo.

“David Haskell does the impossible in The Song of Trees. He picks out a dozen trees around the world and inspects each one with the careful eye of a scientist. But from those observations, he produces a work of great poetry, showing how these trees are joined to the natural world around them, and to humanity as well.” Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses.

The Songs of Trees: headed to press!

I’m thrilled to announce that my next book, The Songs of Trees, is scheduled for publication on April 4th, 2017. After several years of traveling and writing, the proofs are in and the book is moving into production. 

songsoftreesmediumres

The cover art features a photograph of young, pink leaves of Lecythis pisonis, “Monkey Pot Tree,” in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador, the location of my opening chapter. (Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures / Getty Images.)

As publication date approaches I’ll share more stories from my journeys, including some photos and audio clips from the trees whose lives I studied. For now I’ll say that my method at each tree was simple: I sat, listened to each tree and its many neighbors, and tried to attend to the many songs wrapped into and around each tree. What is a tree song? The many harmonies, discords, and relationships — ecological, cultural, physiological, evolutionary — that give a tree its life. Through these masters of connection, we learn something of the networks that give life its substance and beauty.

The following overview from my publisher, Viking, gives a taste of the places that I visited and the songs that I heard:

The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees 

David Haskell’s award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, Haskell brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans.

Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners. These links are nearly two billion years old: the fir’s roots cling to rocks containing fossils of the first networked cells.

By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans and petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how the Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities, and the atmosphere. Now humans have transformed these networks, powering our societies with wood, tending some forests, but destroying others. Haskell also attends to trees in places where humans seem to have subdued “nature” – a pear tree on a Manhattan sidewalk, an olive tree in Jerusalem, a Japanese bonsai– demonstrating that wildness permeates every location.

Every living being is not only sustained by biological connections, but is made from these relationships. Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature, and ethics. When we listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.”

Publication date is six months away, but pre-orders are already open:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

iBooks

It is a joy and a great honor to share what I hear and learn, both in book form and here on my blog. To all who accompany me in my rambles by reading, sharing, commenting: many, many thanks.