A Burroughs for Burroughs: Prestigious Award for Confluence: Merrymeeting Bay

Story posted April 15, 2009

The John Burroughs Association, founded and headquartered at the American Museum of Natural History, has announced that Franklin Burroughs, Harrison King McCann Professor of the English Language Emeritus, is the winner of its Burroughs 2009 Medal Award in recognition of outstanding natural history writing.

In Confluence: Merrymeeting Bay (Tilbury House, 2006),
Burroughs reflects on the human and natural history of the bay with insightful observations of its wild nature, scenic beauty and the people who inhabit it.

Book cover

"He is being acknowledged as one of our strongest winners for his excellence in the tradition of the genre of nature essay-writing, which John Burroughs perfected," reads a statement from the John Burroughs Association.

The Medal Award also recognizes the book's photographer, Heather Perry, who depicted the rich life of Merrymeeting Bay. Perry holds a degree in biology and her work has appeared in Ocean Navigator, Maine Times, Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Dive International (UK), Le Monde (Paris) and Georama Experiment (Greece).

Burroughs taught at Bowdoin for 33 years, before retiring in 2002. He is also the author of The River Home: A Return to the Low Country and Billy Watson's Croker Sack.

His essays have appeared in a variety of literary quarterlies and have been reprinted in such collections as Best American Essays, The Pushcart Anthology and The Norton anthology of Nature Writing.

The Author Reads

Frank Burroughs

In a 2001 recording at Bowdoin College, Burroughs reads the full text of his award-winning essay "Compression Wood," originally published in The American Scholar.

The John Burroughs Medal has been given annually since 1926 for a book that combines scientific accuracy, firsthand fieldwork and creative natural history writing in the United States.

Past Burroughs medalists include Rachel Carson, Joseph Wood Krutch, Loren Eiseley, Paul Brooks, John Hay, Ann Zwinger, Barry Lopez, Gary Nabhan, Robert Pyle, Richard Nelson, Carl Safina, Ted Levin, Jan Deblieu and Julia Whitty.

The award was bestowed at the annual meeting of the Burroughs Association at a ceremony and luncheon held April 6, 2009, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The John Burroughs Association, a membership organization of conservation and environmental literary professionals and stewards dedicated to preserving the environment, gives the Medal award that encourages writing in the Burroughs tradition and maintains sites associated with the famous naturalist John Burroughs.

Merrymeeting Bay continues to be the subject of intensive field studies by Bowdoin researchers who are conducting a long-term study of the ecology, history and biodiversity of this important midcoast region of Maine. Llearn more about the work of Bowdoin's Merrymeeting Bay/Kennebec Estuary Research Program.

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