“In college, I disappeared into poetry classes as a distraction from the rigors of chemistry and microbiology. Soon I discovered writing wasn’t a distraction at all: it was my calling. By writing about science —with lyricism, passion and power—I had the potential to change the way my readers viewed the world around them.”
Melissa Sevigny is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.
Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.
Sevigny was awarded funding in support of her work on a book-length nonfiction manuscript that explores what it means to make a home in a world defined and reshaped by catastrophic events (working title: Raining Fire). Over the next year, she will search out examples of planet-shattering catastrophes close to her Arizona home—the still-shifting lava field of the San Francisco Peaks, the imprint of meteors, the etching of a supernova on Chaco Canyon’s walls. She’ll pay close attention to places where cultures witnessed, survived, or were changed by catastrophe and look for the traces these people left behind. These experiences will inform her thinking about what it means to face a future of climate change in the American Southwest. Relying on interviews with scientists and local experts, as well as her own observations, Sevigny will explore the science of planetary catastrophe and how it relates to our most intimate choices about home and family.
As with her previous books, Sevigny’s primary goal for Raining Fire is to communicate science to a lay audience—not only scientific concepts and facts, but also her deep fascination with the evolving process of science, which reveals the workings of the universe in incremental steps.
Sevigny is a member of the National Association of Science Writings and the interviews editor for Terrain.org: A Journal of Built and Natural Environments, a Tucson-based online journal. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide (UA Press, 2016).
Photo by Alexis Knapp.
Banner image: Composite of artist’s photo (by Alexis Knapp) and satellite image of the San Francisco Peaks.