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University of Iowa News Release


March 7, 2008

UI Press releases book based on experiences in the Canadian Arctic

"Return to Warden's Grove," based on three seasons of field research in the Canadian Arctic by biologist Christopher Norment, will become available from the University of Iowa Press on March 15.

Leaving his family at home in the United States, Norment spent months on end living in isolation in the Northwest Territories studying the ecology of the Harris's Sparrow.

For Norment, "doing science" can lead to an enriched aesthetic and emotional connection to something beyond the self and a way to develop a sacred sense of place in a world that feels increasingly less welcoming, certain and familiar.

Roxana Robinson, author of "Arctic Circle," wrote, "Norment is clearly beguiled and enchanted by his wild landscape, fascinated and mystified by the conundrum of the paradoxical dynamic between the human invader and the endlessly seductive notion of the land without invaders, as well as the problem of the human's 'right' place -- is it with people, or without them?

"He discusses this thoroughly and thoughtfully and gives a vivid portrayal of the field experience -- its dramas, labors, vicissitudes, and sublime delights. The birds, the landscape, the weather, the solitude, and the tasks form the great cornerposts of this saga and make it solid, complex and powerful."

William L. Fox, author of "Terra Antarctica," commented: "Norment has crafted that rarest of all books, the study of a creature that demonstrates to know it is to know ourselves, but that also shows how such a task is far too important to delegate solely to science or art. It is an act that requires both. Norment's parsing of poems and art is on par with his ability to gather field observations, and our world is larger for it."

And naturalist essayist and poet David Oates wrote: "Norment's cabin, like Thoreau's, opens into the widest prospects of hearts and minds. 'Return to Warden's Grove' is a story of fortitude, love of truth, and a wandering, wondering heart. The picture appears gradually, humbly, in the repeated daily acts of minute observational and intellectual honesty from which science is built.

"He is willing to feel and question everything. What good is science? How much of science secretly draws from intuition, heart, and that mysterious connectedness to the natural world that no one can explain, or explain away? And how can a person really be at home anywhere? I don't know of another work that better engages these foundational questions."

Norment is a professor of environmental science and biology at the State University of New York College at Brockport, where he specializes in the breeding biology and ecology of migratory birds. In addition to numerous scientific articles, he is the author of "In the North of Our Lives."

"Return to Warden's Grove" is available at bookstores or directly from the University of Iowa Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Thomas, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,