Department of English
Affiliated Faculty, Collective for Social and Environmental Justice
Office: VMMC 202V
I’ve taught at WSU Vancouver since 1993 and was a founding co-director of the Collective for Social and Environmental Justice. My research and teaching interests include environmental justice literature; ecocriticism; Shakespeare and 17th/18th century literature with a focus on the Commons and enclosure, roots of global capitalism, witch hunts, colonial violence, extraction & ecological exploitation; enslavement; creative writing (poetry, plays, literary journalism/creative nonfiction); experiential/popular education; and oral history. I’ve been documenting unfolding Pacific Northwest social movements–generally in an immersive, participatory way–around fossil fuel resistance/kayaktivism, houselessness, poverty and inequality for more than two decades. I’m interested in the intersections of militarism, climate collapse, mass incarceration, and houselessness. These interests also inform radio segments I produce as a member of the Old Mole Variety Hour collective on Portland’s community supported radio station KBOO (90.7 fm), and related journalism. I’m interested in the spoken word poetry of ordinary people struggling to bring sanity and humanity to a world in crisis.
I grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Before and during grad school, I worked as a bartender, taxi driver, janitor, office temp, caregiver, and cook, including a season in the canneries in Naknek, Alaska. I also worked as an advocate and live-in staff in shelters in Seattle, and I consider these experiences as having very much shaped my work as a teacher and researcher. My interest in houselessness is rooted in a brief and privileged experience of it as a houseless undergraduate haunting the halls of vacant dorms with my younger sister and pretending not to be houseless. Some of the richest, most philosophical conversations I’ve had or witnessed have been in shelters, drop-in centers, and soup kitchens or on the street. When I was younger and could sit like a pretzel for long periods of time, I loved to ride Greyhound buses across country and talk with random people. For the past fifteen years, I have served as a medical guardian/advocate (both formal and informal) for friends with disabilities, and that experience informs some of my work on houselessness and health disparities. Since co-creating the digital database The Thin Green Line is People History Project (with Roben White, with assistance from Derya Ruggles), beginning in 2017, I’ve gotten more interested in exploring digital platforms. For more information on my work, see my personal webpage. For more information on the daily cost of war to your own community, see the National Priorities Project Cost of War
- B.A. English, Georgetown University, 1983
- Ph.D. University of Washington, 1994
- Visiting Scholar, Department of History and Philosophy, Cambridge University, 1991-2.
- Lewis E. and Stella G. Buchanan, Distinguished Associate Professorship, 2019-21.
- College of Arts and Sciences Public and Community Engagement Award, 2021.
- Semi-finalist, New Guard Review, Knightville Poetry Contest, 2018.
- Finalist, New Millenium Writings, Literary Award (Poetry), 2017
- Long-listed, Poetry Society, National Poetry Competition (England), 2015
“Thirty Days on a Silent Buddhist Retreat or How I Learned to Breathe thru the Apocalypse,” a serialized play, written and performed by Desiree Hellegers; co-directed, co-produced, and co-edited by actor/producer and WSU Vancouver alum Derya Ruggles. Airing on Open-Signal cable television, which broadcasts on 4 Comcast stations in the Portland, Vancouver metropolitan area to more than 400,000 households. Episode 1 released in September 2021.
“No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death and Resistance,” staged reading, Fertile Ground Festival, Portland, Oregon, Jan. 23 and 24, 2015.
“Dumbo Elegies,” New Guard Review, VIII. 2019, 137-8.
“Kodak Moments,” New Millennium Writings, XXVII, 2018.
“Body Counts: Pesticides, War and Queer Spirituality in Cherrie Moraga’s Heroes and Saints” in Indigenous Art and Health from an International and Interdisciplinary Perspective, Dr. Robert Innes, Dr. Nancy Van Styvendale, and Robert Henry, eds. U. of Manitoba Press, 2021.
“Victor Jara’s Hands: An Anti-fascist Memoir-festo and Brief Personal History of Neoliberalism: Counterpunch, Jan. 1, 2020
(co-authored with Pavithra Narayanan), “Toxic Imperialism: Memory, Erasure, and Environmental Injustice in David Chariandy’s Soucouyant.” ariel: A Review of International English Literature 50.2 (2019): 81-104.
“Transit Riders Unions vs. Climate Change, White Supremacy, and Disaster Capitalism,” Counterpunch June 19, 2018.
“Unnatural Causes: Health Takes a Hit in Portland Oregon,” Counterpunch, October 19, 2017.
“‘Energy without Injury: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street,” Counterpunch, May 23, 2016.
“From Poisson Road to Poison Road: Mapping the Toxic Trail of Windigo Capital in Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 27.2 (2015): 1-28.
“Trade Wars: Monsanto’s Return to Viet Nam,” Counterpunch, May 8, 2015.
No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories Natural Philosophy, Poetry and of Homelessness,
Life, Death and Resistance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
The Thin Green Line is People: An Archival History of Pacific Northwest Fossil Fuel Resistance
- Women Surviving Homelessness Part One – Flying Focus Video Collective
- Women Surviving Homelessness Part Two – Flying Focus Video Collective
Podcasts of Select KBOO Radio Segments
- Interviews with canoe families and kayaktivists at the May 20, 2018 Indigenous-day of resistance to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Seattle. (aired 5/28/18).
- Part I of 2-part Interview with legendary Seattle singer-songwriter-activist Jim Page. (aired 2/5/18).
- Part 2, interview with Seattle singer-songwriter, Jim Page. (aired 2/12/18).
- Interview with Cecelia Towner, founder, organizer with Black Lives Matter Vancouver, about the #MeToo Movement and violence against Black women in Clark County, WA (aired 11/20/17).
- Interview with Prof. Mario Sifuentez (UC Merced) about his book Of Forests and Fields, Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest, and about the ground-breaking organizing work of the Oregon farmworkers union PCUN (aired 9/4/17).
- Segment on the anticipated health and environmental impacts of the proposed Tesoro Savage oil terminal, featuring interviews with Hood River City Council Member Peter Cornelison; Dan Serres, Conservation Director, Columbia Riverkeeper; Melanie Plout, M.D. (Obstetrician); and Patricia Kullberg, M.D., former Medical Director, Multnomah County Health Department (aired 6/12/2017).