Kenyon’s 2020-23 Mellon Science and Nature Writing Fellow shares her passion for cross-disciplinary writing.
Hometown: It’s no longer home, but I grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
What is your favorite place?
Toss-up between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and any rainforest hiking trail within three hours of Panama City, Panama.
How would you describe yourself in a sentence?
I am the sort of nerd who will spend weeks observing a single backyard animal, read everything scientists have published about the species, hyperventilate when I try to explain why I’m obsessed with it, and then try to put it all into a poem, story or essay.
Books that changed your life?
Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals” (in middle school), Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (as an undergrad), and “Spider Silk” by Leslie Brunetta and Catherine Craig (two years ago, when the pandemic hit). “Spider Silk” tracks the evolutionary history of spiders using their silk as a narrative (and genetic) thread. Reading that during lockdown anchored me to something true and wondrous I could observe right on my windowsill or under my cupboards, when nothing else in the world felt reachable, sensible or joyous.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
My mum: “It’s not going to come out the way you want it to when you’re frustrated, so walk away and try again later.” Works for drawing, writing, negotiating bedtime with my toddler, finding lost keys and responding to the news.
What else would you like people to know?
I alternately pine for big cities and wild spaces because that is where diversity (cultural or biological) is at its richest.