Writing on Water

From Terra Nova Books

Writing on Water

Edited by David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus

Water and its multifaceted relationship to humans, as portrayed by a wide range of writers and photographers.





Water and its multifaceted relationship to humans, as portrayed by a wide range of writers and photographers.

Water links all aspects of our existence. From the politics of watersheds to the romance of turtles climbing up from the sea to the beaches, from Leonardo da Vinci to Octavio Paz, from death at a hot spring to the practicalities of liquidation, the writings in this collection reflect on many aspects of the human encounter with water. The book contains some science, a few plans for managing and protecting water, and plenty of stories, poems, essays, and artwork. The writers include Bob Braine, Robert Grudin, Wilson Harris, George Keithley, David Morse, Octavio Paz, physicist Sidney Perkowitz, Eva Salzman, Ted Steinberg, and Peter Warshall, editor of Whole Earth magazine. Photographers include Cyril Christo, Adam David Clayman, Monique Crépault, Helen M. Ellis, Sally Gall, Margaret McCarthy, Kristin Ordahl, Jerry Uelsmann, and Marie Wilkinson. This is the second in a series of Terra Nova books from MIT Press, which aim to show that environmental issues are cultural and artistic as well as practical and political.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262182119 300 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 23 illus.


$18.00 X ISBN: 9780262681360 300 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 23 illus.


David Rothenberg

Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg has written Why Birds Sing, Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful, and many other books, published in at least eleven languages. He has more than thirty recordings out, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House, and most recently In the Wake of Memories and Faultlines. He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Elliott Sharp, Iva Bittová, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. Nightingales in Berlin is his latest book and film. Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Marta Ulvaeus

Marta Ulvaeus is former Associate Director of Terra Nova projects at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


  • ...These books are courageous, and necessary.

    Renee Lertzman Parabola

  • A great choice for anyone who wants a little watery reading to nourish the soul.

    New Age Journal

  • An important anthology on a precious element.

    The Bloomsbury Review

  • An ode to water composed by a range of admirers.

    American Scientist

  • ...Gushes with torrents of words that dance and ebb and eddy and swirl.

    Whole Earth Review

  • Refreshing as a cool drink from a deep well on a steamy July afternoon...

    Publishers Weekly


  • This is a look at water from many unexpected perspectives, and it creates a fresh way of looking at one of the oldest subjects there is. The pacing and combinations of pieces kept me moving. Wide-ranging, eclectic, exciting, the pages contain wild energy. I don't know of another collection doing anything like this.

    Gary Lawless

    Department of English, Bates College, editor of Poems for the Wild Earth

  • Because of its scope and diversity, this book is a significant contribution to our understanding of ourselves and our environment in the early 21st century.

    David Robertson

    Department of English, University of California, Davis, author of Real Matter

  • It's a pleasure to welcome another provocative Terra Nova collection of environmental meditations, this time focused on the theme of water. David Rothenberg and Martha Ulvaeus interweave lyrical nature writing with new poetry, serious explorations of grave dangers lurking in particular toxic sites but unknown to residents, scientific reportage, and eco-fiction—to offer an exciting sense of the many perspectives needed in our cultural reawakening to the threatened world that sustains us. Water shortages are beginning to pose serious problems even in North America's rich continental landscapes, and this new Terra Nova book is a lively, multi-layered alert.

    Louise Westling

    Professor of English and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon

  • The narrative current that surges through Writing on Water carries with it a rich suspension of voices, perceptions, and literary forms. A reader's heart is beating harder when this volume's farther shore is reached.

    John C. Elder

    Stewart Professor of English and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College, author of Reading the Mountains of Home

  • Promises to be a significant contribution in addressing a neglected but important environmental topic.

    Cheryll Glotfelty

    Department of English, University of Nevada, Reno