The Sespe Wild: Author to sign book, read Saturday at JN Gallery

December 10, 2004
Santa Paula News

The John Nichols Gallery invites the pubic to a book signing for “The Sespe Wild, Southern California’s Last Free River” by Bradley John Monsma on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe John Nichols Gallery invites the pubic to a book signing for “The Sespe Wild, Southern California’s Last Free River” by Bradley John Monsma on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. Monsma will also read from his book at 3 p.m. The gallery is located at 916 E. Main St.Bradley John Monsma is a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at Woodbury University in Burbank. His work has appeared in several literary and scholarly journals. Recently published by the University of Nevada Press, “The Sespe Wild” is an examination of the remarkable survival and transformation of this unique Ventura County wilderness area.Nichols initially met Monsma when “he came into the gallery to do some research on the Sespe. After curating the exhibit on the Sespe at the Santa Paula California Oil Museum I had a small archive,” some of which is now featured in Monsma’s book. Nichols garnered thanks from the author on the book’s dedication page, as did Nichols’ store feline, Sespe Red.“I read the book and was very impressed by it,” as are about a dozen customers, who have already purchased copies, noted Nichols. “It’s perfect for Christmas,” especially those copies that will be signed by Monsma at the gallery on Saturday.
Monsma shares his exploration of this unique and fantastic region. His attention ranges from the physical Sespe, examined on foot or by kayak, to the subsurface geology that shaped it, the Chumash people who first occupied it, and the impact of Spanish and then American settlers. He also considers the Sespe through the eyes of the nonhuman populations – the nearly extinct condors, the vanished grizzlies, the mountain sheep, the steelhead trout and the red-legged frogs.Monsma moved to California from Michigan in 1989 to fulfill the lifelong dream of learning to surf and to start graduate school at USC. A few summers and a few stitches later he was ripping. Despite surfing, he received his Ph.D. in English and began publishing articles on tricksters in oral traditions and contemporary novels.Over the past ten years, Monsma has taught many different courses in literature, writing and interdisciplinary studies. Each spring he and a botanist teach California Natural History and Nature Writing. They take students to Yosemite to experience the layering of natural and cultural history in a place crucial to the development of American environmentalism and visual approaches to nature. Monsma is also currently Dean of Faculty at Woodbury.Says Monsma, “For me, getting to know the plants and animals, the rivers and mountain ranges has been a way to find a sense of ‘home in California.’ It’s as important as finding friends among people.” Whether on his mountain bike in the Verdugos and San Gabriels, hiking Griffith Park, the Sespe, and the Sierra, or kayaking the Class IV and V waters of the Kern River, he tries to be attentive to the ecological relationships and to the way people relate to places.With 15 years of experience teaching writing, Monsma is very interested in speaking engagements or conducting workshops on nonfiction writing and the environment. For more information, call Nichols at 525-7804.

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