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Essays and Articles by Emily Hiestand



To explore these essays and articles, click the titles or More. 

For info about book publications, go to Books.

Happy reading.




The Atlantic Monthly
July 1998


Recipient of The National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism —

A tribute to the wisdom and community of an urban black church





The Constant  Gardener
The Atlantic Monthly

March 2007

expanded version




A journey to Sweden and the home of naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. 

”Settled so early it is mentioned in Norse mythology, the Uppsala region is the oldest part of Sweden, long the seat of the pagan Svea kings, whose deities were Thor, Freyr, and Odin, and whose burial mounds still rise in nearby Gamla (Old) Uppsala. The city today stretches out along the flatlands by the Fyris River, then ripples up a tall glacial ridge, culminating at its highest elevation in a massive 17th century castle whose great bulk is considerably leavened by being painted pink — the color of a poached salmon." More

Dept. of Real Places
The Atlantic Monthly
August 2001

“The newest aid to navigation along the New England coast is a cluster of ovoid structures that loom 130 feet tall, and rather perkily for such giants, on the tip of Deer Island, in Boston Harbor. The eggs, as they are commonly called (and there are a dozen), cut a dashing, futuristic figure against the blue-green Atlantic: Rem Koolhaas meets the Jetsons meets Fabergé."    More


Profound Lack

of Ellis
Fall 2001

  “Peering in the windows, I see no metal shelves laden with wheel bearings and chrome-plated parts. No custom wheels, radar detectors, bike racks, or fog lamps. No fuzzy dice. No grilles. The mind reels. Ellis the Rim Man had seemed a permanent fixture, so welded into the life of our city, and so emblematic of America's obsession with automobiles, that it would be with us forever.”   More
Warm Spell
  “Whenever I am out like this, marveling at the so-called ordinary world, I like to remember that aimless wandering is a respectable activity in some parts of the globe. By which I mean Paris."    More
  Water Park
  “Circulating on the banks of the river, breathing deeply, letting myself be drawn from one blue-green fact to another, I have often felt like Wimpy buoyant on the scent from some nearby kitchen."   More
Promised Landscape

  “The land that may become civic treasure lies in deep shadow, pulverized by cranes, edged by Jersey barriers. But who will be surprised to hear that even in this condition the terrain is full of allure, and the countless small things that could stop Flaubert in his tracks."  More


Zip A Dee Doo Dah

Nature Writing:

The Tradition in English

 W.W. Norton










“In another kind of guide, I would place the blue jay with the great collage artists, with Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Jean Arp, and Louise Nevelson, all those bricoleurs who take the occasion of a fragmenting world to practice a recombinatory art—linking decorum and glitz, high and lo, the funny and elegiac, making a moody frisson of the commonplace."





Found Art



"The rooms are inhabited now mostly by a first-rate collection of remnants: scraps of paper, fragments of plaster and wood, bits of wire and string, a whole solar system of stray marks, splatters, and whirling stains—the textures, colors, and rhythms of happenstance. Art studios everywhere bloom with this engaging accumulation, the unintentional by-product of creativity."  More



Backside of Civility

Toward the

Livable City

Milkweed Press




"Along with good shop talk and more fun than you might imagine, journeys to infrastructure give the visitor deep respect for the souls who build and tend these bastions. At Deer Island, I ate a sandwich lunch on the seawall with a young mason named Kevin who is continuing a family tradition of building local infrastructure. “My dad built I-93,” he told me, proudly, “and my granddad built the Boston & Maine Railroad.”  I loved the way this young man gave his forebears total credit for the massive interstate and rail transportation projects, as if the two of them were his own personal Paul Bunyans.  Which, of course, they are."   More info



Urban Nature


Milkweed Press



"Ideas about nature are famously malleable.  Take a peek, and Shazamm! you have opened what Casey Stengal once called 'a box of Pandoras.'"  This essay is the introduction to a terrific collection of poems, edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, including works by Czeslaw Milosz, Chase Twichell, Jeffrey Harrison, Martin Espada, and Derek Walcott. More info














Joanne reflected in a tide pool

Halibut Point, Cape Ann

Photograph ©2003 Emily Hiestand