Why write? Because it helps me realize my grandest aspirations, as neatly summed up by Virginia Woolf in The Waves:

"That would be a glorious life, to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it may lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seductions; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly."

Or as Robert Bly put it,

“If you have a tiny farm, you need to love poetry more than the farm. If you sell apples, you need to love poetry more than the apples. It’s good to settle down somewhere and love poetry more than that.”

 

BOOK: LANDS OF LOST BORDERS

On sale January 2018, available for pre-order now. (Knopf Canada)

On sale January 2018, available for pre-order now.
(Knopf Canada)

Ever wondered what it's like to sneak across Tibet with your best childhood pal in the guise of androgynous Chinese cyclists? To test the limits of endurance, friendship, nations and sanity while pedaling for ten months through ten countries, several with names ending in 'stan'? To set off for Mars, determined to be a modern-day explorer, and end up—marvelous error!—on a bicycle on the Silk Road instead?

Well hold your breath no more (er, until January 30, 2018), because I have just the book for you. Lands of Lost Borders: Biking Out of Bounds on the Silk Road is a portrait of the explorer as a young woman, as well as a meditation on the ways borders shape and shatter the world. After more than a year total of spinning wheels on the Silk Road, and a few more years of spinning sentences (harder than biking, it turns out), I'm excited to finally share the adventure with you in more than a blog and brief highlights reel.

Still pals by the end of the Silk Road
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ESSAYS

 

  • LANDS OF LOST BORDERS

Essay about borders and biking the Silk Road published in The Georgia Review (Fall 2014) and cited in Best American Travel Writing 2015. Read it online here and check out photos here.

"My obsession with borders was born all at once in three different countries, depending on who you ask. I was in my early twenties, biking with a friend across the parched soda plains of the Askai Chin. For weeks we traversed this high-altitude wilderness, a land spread wide as wings, folded here and there into mountains. Turquoise lakes glimmered in the distance like puddles of sky. The horizon was more a hesitation than a hard edge, and every so often it spat out a dust tornado that would skim across the road just meters ahead of us, its flue curved into a question mark missing its point. 

On a daily basis the wild fact of being here knocked me sideways with astonishment. Where on this spinning world was I? Ask a Chinese, and I was in China; an Indian, and I was in India; a Tibetan, and I was in Tibet. Ask me, and I was in paradise, no further names necessary."
 

  • THE CONTOURS OF COLD

Essay about a ski traverse of the Hardangervidda Plateau in Norway published by CutBank, reprinted in Drunken Boat, and cited in Best American Essays. You can read it here, check out photos here.

"There is nothing practical whatsoever about this expedition: we have no ambitions to make history, plant flags, claim territory, collect specimens, chart maps, win fame, or curry the favors of kings and queens. We are simply here to study the contours of cold, and apprentice ourselves to wildness along the way. The goal is something like sublimation, ice loosed straight to sky."


SELECT PUBLICATIONS


Borderski, Sidetracked Magazine
Arizona Uncorked, Canadian Geographic Travel
Two poems, Drunken Boat
Tuktoyaktuk or Bust, The Walrus
Antarctic Dry Valleys, Sierra
Solute and isotope geochemistry of subsurface ice melt seeps in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, The Geological Society of America Bulletin