Looking Back on Earth Day 2010

Looking back on Earth Day, 2010: A year ago, the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill had not yet happened; nor had the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent nuclear leakage. The floods in Australia had not yet occurred. It was felt, then, that the ozone-layer hole over the Arctic was on the way to being fixed; maybe it is, in the long run, but meanwhile, in the spring of 2011, it showed its largest increase ever.

So last year at this time we were feeling a bit more hopeful. I was engaged in several activities in and around Earth Day, http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2011, including an appearance at the Earth Day event in Washington, D.C, where I learned of many organizations I hadn’t known about before– see, for instance, http://www.nochildleftinside.org/ — and listened to many impassioned speakers.
(MORE TO COME: Have to go out…)


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45 responses to “Looking Back on Earth Day 2010

  1. Dear Margaret,

    I’m a Brazilian fan of your work and novels and I’m happy to let you know that the Brazilian Portuguese edition of ‘The Year of The Flood’ is finally launched!


    Thank you so much for this fabulous book!!

  2. Delighted to hear you are making and not featured on “dead authors” T-shirts.
    I am a retired Professor of Communications and Humanities and in my 80th year, so I’m always gratified to know that people my own age are still around — especially people who are making positive contributions.
    Believe it or not, I have neglected to read A HANDMAID’S TALE until a month ago. My older daughter, who is Ms. Women’s Rights, had read it several times when she was in college. Great book — too bad it could happen. It’s on its way here with Republican governors eliminating funding for planned parenthood. To paraphrase the well-known witticism: If men were the ones who got pregnant, CHOICE would be the fifth freedom.

  3. Patricia Glasgow

    Hello…if I am indeed reaching THE Margaraet Atwood….any follow up book to Oyrx and Crake/The Year of the Flood?….my GOd I hope so..I have loved these books…this story….why no movie yet??…a new but most sincere reader…PJG

    • marg09

      Hello: No movie yet maybe because of the difficulty of filming those Blue scenes??? Glad you liked the books! M

  4. wolfy

    earth day isn’t what it used to be-I distrust the “green” agenda.

  5. I love this “More to come, have to go out” — *smiling* I just imagine the author grabbing her bag, keys, going out to run errands and such; she comes home, puts up bag and hangs key on hook, then needs a snack, maybe a nap is in order, soon suppertime – next day there’s some writing to be done and, oh, all kinds of things, and soon, it is June 26th and the last sentence is still “more to come, have to go out” – Makes me smile.

  6. My comment is directed at your book, Cat’s eye.
    Oh the emotions you bring out about in your writing about Elaine’s childhood and coming of age.I could not while reading,help myself from highlighting these feelings,situations that it brought back from my own as a people pleaser,low self esteem,gullible and naive cchild desperately yearning to fit in.So much,that i felt that burning in my stomach that only the powerlessness of a child can muster.I hated Margaret then…i am finished reading the book therefore cannot predict the emotions i will relate to.
    I remember reading Wally Lamb’s book “She’s come undone” and experiencing the same rage,as anger is a little to tame to express what i felt.
    I love the writing.It is my first M Atwood book and certainly not my last.
    I needed to find a virtual outlet to express myself.There are no such hum reading groups,or poetry readings in Ottawa which is a true shame,unless a writer is invited to some event.I am a women of opinions,of emotions,of substance “feeling stuck” therefore needing to comment and hoping that i havent just written all this to be lost in the bowels of the web

  7. Alison

    Off the subject of this post, but I’ve been reading your books since I was a teenager and I’m a huge fan. And I follow you on Facebook. I read this the other day and can’t believe that you wrote it. I am guessing that someone from your publishing house wrote it?

    “The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s depiction of a near-future
    America in which women are stripped of their names and subjugated to
    male dominion, might have looked more far-fetched in a world before
    the Taliban took Kabul and Sarah Palin became governor of Alaska. Then
    as now, it was a horror story, but these days the mechanics of the
    society in which the story is set are easier to see in operation”

    The Margaret Atwood that has inspired me would never compare the Taliban taking Kabul with Sarah Palin’s moderately conservative time as governor, all the while having her husband watch over the kids. I’m a pro-choice woman myself but this just seems like a hateful and inane comparison. I am wondering if I should stop following you on Facebook – not sure if it’s the real Margaret Atwood or not.

    • marg09

      Hi Alison: No, I didn’t write it. I guess I better take a look at that Facebook page. Facebook appears to generate pages for people — or fan sites, or something — and a Twitter follower told me it had done so for me, so I suggested to my publisher that maybe they should run it, as I don’t understand Facebook.
      A more appropriate comparison might be the teenagers (and others) being arrested in the southern US because they have had miscarriages, even though they wanted the babies…

  8. The name of the commenter “Toby the glover” is really Michael Stepkoff.

  9. literatelibrarian

    HI MIss Atwood, I just found your blog as my cousin who works at TPL were just talking about you the other day as I wanted to find out what’s beeen going on? Apparently the library was threatened with closure and he said you saved the day! Hooray! Wow you are my heroine! He said everyone was saying you should be the Mayor and I thought oh not she wouldn’t like that people would call her ‘Mayoress’ she’d probably have a fit…

    Anyway just a note to say I’m glad that you said (or wrote) something because us librarians really appreciate it. Also,.I was going to write a little essay on you called ‘Ode to Margaret Atwood’ Or maybe it was a poem..anyway..that would probably really annoy you like what Judy Garland sang to Clark Gable. So maybe I just keep that to myself.

    (oh..I’ll never forget it..honest injun.. you’re my favourite author…)

  10. Hi, I’m teaching Year of the Flood in a university sophomore level literature course on the apocalypse. One assignment that I gave was for the students to find information about the saints. Bashir Alouse alludes us…. Perhaps this one is an anagram? Would you be willing to help us out? I told my students that if at all possible, I’d figure out a way to ask you. Many thanks, either way.
    Laura Wright

  11. I have to comment – I was a voracious reader as a child. I usually read about a half dozen books simultaneously. However, since having children (3 in 4 years) and working full time (and then some), in addition to finishing work for my master’s degree, I have totally neglected my passion for pleasure reading. My only exceptions had been for any new Tom Robbins or Harry Potter books – until I discovered audio-books. Thank goodness your last name begins with an “A”!!! I checked out Year of the Flood from my local libary for a long car trip and have been hooked ever since. Thank you for your beautiful imagery, the elegant way you capture raw human emotion and response and your captivating story-telling. I am working my way through your catalogue and can’t wait for the 3rd book in the MaddAdam trilogy!!!

  12. I noticed you finished writing The Handmaid’s Tale while in Alabama. Were you there to investigate fundamentalist religions for your book? I am interested being an expatriate Alabamian. I lived in the big city and was shocked by some of the more extreme religious views in rural areas in particular.

    • marg09

      Hello – It was a coincidence — I was the MFA Chair there in 1985 spring, and the book was almost done by then. Also we were birdwatching in that — for us — new area. Fundamentalist religious movements are often an exercise in political control, rather than being truly “religious.” You might like to read E.O. Wilson’s book Anthill, which is set in Alabama.

  13. Dear Margaret
    I am a new visitor to your blog, which appears to be inactive right now. Nevertheless, I wanted to say how personal, and engaging it is; it’s a gift to your readers. Thank you. I also wanted to say how glad I am to see pictures from your visit to Aldo Leopold’s shack. I wonder if the visit felt like a pilgrimage. Sand County Almanac changed my life; many of my aspirations – that had seemed disconnected and merely juxtaposed, if you will – coalesced as I read Leopold’s pioneering work; it wove (what was, at the time cutting-edge) scientific ecology & natural history information, together with a fine literary sensibility and a searching philosophical disposition in an elegant tapestry of thought. I have taught the book at university for more than twenty years; it’s the only work that makes it onto every syllabus! It seems to me that in some ways, he set a standard for informed, grounded, public writing that has been ably imitated; in other ways, though, his work remains prophetic and unrealized. I was wondering two things about your appreciation of Leopold’s work: first, have you read The River of the Mother of God, a collection of Leopold’s earlier writings? It gives a very interesting portrait of the growth of his thinking and style- all of it grounded in his scientific work. Second, what do you make of contemporary “nature writing”? Is so-called, creative, non-fiction prose the most effective, engaging literary form expressing his seminal spirit, or do you find fictional forms more resonant with his vision? Has his work influenced any of your writing? Oops! that’s three things! Anyhow, I have enjoyed visiting the blog and poking around. I’ll be back! Yours truly, William

  14. swiss

    you’ve been asked to open a library yurt!? that can’t happen every day! if it’s not true it should be. me, i’d jump at the chance.

    oh aye, next time you’re (not) doing one of those boat trips in this neck of the woods go to machrihanish. you’ll know where

  15. Emily

    Dear Ms. Atwood,
    I currently study at the University of Rhode Island and I am in an Honors class with a professor who is extremely frustrated that he cannot figure a name out in Year of the Flood. He asked all of us to try and find out the meaning of the name “Saint Bachir Alouse.” It would be much appreciated by the class and the professor especially who is dying to know!
    Thank you, either way.

  16. Dayna


    I am trying to make a quilt with all of the blocks from Alias Grace. It is for my sister. I am having a hard time finding the patterns for some of them. Any help you can give me as to where I might find them would be wonderful. Thank you very much.


    • marg09

      Hello: The quilt blocks appear at the beginning of each section. In the first edition (hardback) they mixed up Snake Fence and Secret Drawer, but in subsequent editions this was fixed. The patterns are all real and from the 19th C. My sister drew the blocks. Which are you having trouble finding, and what information do you need, apart from the blocks themselves, which are already in the book?

      Good luck — M

      • Dayna

        thank you for the quick reply,

        I was hoping that if you had found the quilt blocks in a specific book of patterns I could use that book. I am having a hard time finding the pattern for Jagged Edge.

        thanks again,

  17. marg09

    Try this: or enter Jagged EDge Quilt Pattern: you’ll find more: TLC Home “JaggedEdgeQuilt Border Pattern”

    The detailed JaggedEdgeQuilt Border Pattern is for quilters who love challenges. Download the free quilt border for your next quilting project.

  18. Patrick W. Haye

    I don’t know if these replies are private or not, that being said I am a retired Air force seargent married to , possibly a kin of yours, Naomi Joy Atwood Schmitz of Tolley ND. I would be tickled to death if you were indeed a member of the family and I uncovered the relationship. Ingabord(?) Solquist might be a common ancestor in North Dakota should you be interested in checking.

    • marg09

      Hello Patrick: It well may be. If your Atwood has roots in 17th C New England, then we are doubtless related. Another bunch came to Canada in the 19th C. But all are originally from the same English family.
      My particular branch (father’s family) went to Canada @ 1760 and settled in Nova Scotia, on the South Shore..
      Hope that is some help. All best, M

  19. Dear Ms. Atwood,
    A very belated note to thank you for writing The Year of the Flood and tell you how moved I was by it, so much so that I immediately went out and bought it in hardcover (something I almost never do). I am floored by your intelligence, imagination, creativity and story-telling ability.
    I look forward to reading your next novel. Your books always make me think.
    Gloria Baker

  20. Anyone know the email margaret? because I’m from Brazil and developed an innovative ecological sustainability, and would like to present to her because only she can disclose something that will improve the world. Email contact ajatecnologias@yahoo.com.br

  21. Jacky

    I heard you today on CBC radio with Jian discussing debt and payback. Brilliant! My mother used to say that whenever I absentmindedly hurt myself (bumped toe into coffee table etc.) it was because I was thinking evil thoughts. Invariably, she was right and I find myself now suggesting that to people who then return a guilty look; they wonder how I could know. At 41, I now know my mother was right. Payback, I guess, for evil thoughts!

  22. danny e. bloom

    Ms Atwood, what a difference a year makes! Yikes? the Gulf oil spill, the Japan quake and tsu-nami and nuke reactor “event” — ouch. This EARTH DAY, a friend of mine in Texas is releasing his new sci fi cli ci book titled POLAR CITY RED, about life in a dystopia in Alaska in 2075. He says the book is a wake up call for people about how to fight climate change. I’m serving as PR consultant for Jim Laughter’s very interesting book about polar cities.

    BTW, recently, here in Taiwan, my island away from island America, i have heard these “night eagles” birds singing all night. These guys are cool. They appear every spring after Lunar New Year in March or so and they apparently do not sleep at night: at least not outside my windows they don’t!

  23. danny e. bloom

    While waiting to get seated, I heard a strident screech above (listen here). I looked up and saw two Savanna Nightjars circling overhead. Quite impressive birds. Although they are roughly the same size, they seem larger and louder than our Common Nighthawks, probably because they spread their primary feathers during flight like some raptors. My friend says the locals call them Night Eagles.

  24. mlakers

    Just wanted to share this amazing short, slow-motion video of an owl in flight. As a fellow bird lover, I thought you’d enjoy it. The final frames are amazing, and I couldn’t help but imagine being a mouse and having this image be the last thing I will ever see…http://www.dogwork.com/owfo8/

  25. mlakers

    Wanted to share this slow-motion shot of an owl with a fellow bird lover: http://www.dogwork.com/owfo8/ The final frames are amazing.

  26. Ana Stanojevic

    Dear Margaret, your work was introduced to me at Syracuse University, when I was a graduate student there… You lectured in a big hall full of students fascinated by your words – I, among them. Amazing energy, humor and rationality combined. If more people were like you… Right now I’m reading your essays (Writing With Intent), and I just wanted to thank you for being and for writing. 🙂

    I wish you all the best!


    (a lot of your books have been translated into Serbian, so maybe you could consider visiting us some day 🙂

  27. Katie

    I’ve just finished ‘The Waterless Flood’ (- is this the same book as the Year of the Flood?) and it is unbelievable. Thank you!! There are no words I can use to describe it, you have unbelievable talent! I read the handmaids tale quite a few years ago & it’s amazing, but doesn’t compare to this one. I just can’t put it down and I’m really sad to be coming to the end of it, i’ll miss all the people in it.. It reminds me of a modern day 1984 and you also remind me of Dr Madeleine Leininger, who I met when I was in America once.. the founder of ‘transcultural nursing’ but also an anthropologist, and a bright, fascinating woman. I love talent like yours who give me the ability to see further than my own stupid job, my own stupid room and pointless life. No point writing further praise as you must know how talented you are. Just wanted to say thanks for creating these characters, this book, and making me feel less alone!! It should be compulsory reading.

    • marg09

      Thank you very much, Katie.. a book without a reader is like a musical score without anyone to play it, so than you for reading my book… M.

  28. I live in the Mexican jungle where I witness nature’s magnificence exposed to man’s disrespect and greed. Plastic bottles and styrofoam are now common place where orchids grow. Hotels replace our mango groves. The dump is a place where children live.
    What have we done to our sweet home, Earth?
    Thank you for your author’s voice and using it with such eloquence for things that really matter.
    Pat Dismukes, Author, Tequila Road

  29. Pingback: מרגרט אטווד | miritayri

  30. Dear Ms Atwood,

    I recently introduced myself on your Twitter feed, before finding this blog. I realize now this would have been a better place to say hello, my bad…I am excited to find your blog.

    Thank you so much,

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