May Theilgaard Watts – #WHM20 #WomensHistoryMonth #WomenInSTEM

Today we celebrate American naturalist, writer, poet, illustrator, and educator May Theilgaard Watts!

From The Paris Review:

While [May Theilgaard] Watts wrote and illustrated several botanical identification books and was a journalist, activist, and a poet to boot, it is her essays that best showcase her poetic style and her aptitude for combining rigor with reflection. “There is good reading on the land,” she writes in the introduction to Reading the Landscape of America, “first hand reading, involving no symbols.” If Watts rejects symbolism in a first breath, she doesn’t do it to reject a literary style of writing. She chooses metaphor and simple juxtapositions as her paradigms for figurative thought. Her gift for metaphor is evident in the titles of her pieces: one essay about a prehistoric strain of magnolias in the Smoky Mountains is called “In Search of Antiques”; another about the formation of a bog is called “History Book with a Flexible Cover.” A number of Watts’s peculiarities of style and pet preoccupations call to mind some of my favorite writers of twentieth century. In her tendency to collect and collage the most wonderful fragments of nature study she is like Marianne Moore; in her interest in mapping and borders she is like Elizabeth Bishop; in her love of the plains and her Midwestern pithiness like Willa Cather. As an essayist, she makes a point, like E. B. White, of memorializing in a very human way the small battles that nature wages within itself.

Learn more!

May Thielgaard Watts


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