Interested in ecologies, walking, writing? You can contact Leslie through this website, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Carol Roberts was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, the second of four daughters. Her father, Edwin A Roberts, Jr, was a public intellectual and conservative political commentator who was the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and the first conservative columnist to call for, in print, the resignation of Richard Nixon.
Leslie grew up in Maryland and Michigan. She spent her childhood running around the Maryland woods — destroyed now by the hideous virus called suburban sprawl — before her family moved to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, outside Detroit. She attended Wayne State University and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science.
Leslie is a journalist who has worked on both the art and editorial side of various magazines and newspapers. Her first gig was with Saturday Review magazine where she was promoted to photo editor at age 24 after everyone else on the team got fired. After editorial stints at The Washington Post Writers Group and work as a features editor with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, she moved to Melbourne, Australia, to write features, largely on food and cooking, for The Herald. A three-and-a-half month reporting assignment aboard a Greenpeace ship in Antarctica changed her life — and she then lived abroad for two years, hustling free-lance work for various publications — and traveling from Argentina, to England, before settling in Bangkok where she worked for the then-left-wing local newspaper, The Nation. She has written hundreds of articles and essays for publications including the Bellevue Literary Review, the Christian Science Monitor, the St. Petersburg Times,, the Bellingham Review, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Leslie received her MFA from University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, where she worked with Paul Diehl, David Hamilton, Patricia Foster, Terry Tempest Williams, Adam Hochschild, and Ed Folsom. At Iowa, she wrote the first draft of what would become her first Antarctic book, The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica, which looks at the so-called “simple seaman” who made Antarctic exploration possible, and how we try to understand the ecologies, histories, and environments of Antarctica through stories and objects housed in museums.
She was the first Fulbright Fellow in Antarctic Studies in the world, working in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury, under the guidance of polar scientists at Gateway Antarctica, including Dr Bryan Storey, Dr Steve Weaver, and Michelle Finnemore. Leslie has spent many hours in archives in New Zealand, England, and Australia, reading the letters and diaries of explorers who traveled south with Scott and Shackleton, in particular Shackleton’s Endurance captain, Frank Arthur Worsley, and she is a world expert on his life and navigational prowess. She also collaborated with Baden Norris at the Canterbury Museum and with Antarctica New Zealand, then headed by Lou Sanson.
The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica, was published by Nebraska in 2008 and was widely reviewed and acclaimed in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. It was released in paperback in 2012 by Bison Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. Leslie continues her work as a research scholar and is a regular presenter and affiliated researcher with the United Nations SCAR/HASSEG group of international scholars.
Her second book, Here Is Where I Walk: Episodes from a Life in the Forest, (April 2019, University of Nevada Press), explores the difficult battles being waged to preserve forests and wild places. These stories, equally tragic, reflective, and triumphant are captured in personal essays, recounting her travels to Tasmania in search of a tree species, how the Indiana Dunes National Park came to be saved from sand miners, the Maryland woods of her youth, the death of a beloved student when she was teaching at the University of Iowa, and her own battle to regain use of her arms following an automobile accident. The narrative spine of the book explores her walks and life as a resident in the Presidio National Park and interrogates how wild places communicate with and beckon us into their fold and how this triggers our brains to cast back on stories of people and place.
Leslie is Professor and Chair of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where she teaches writing workshops for undergraduate fashion students and graduate creative nonfiction writers, and a seminar on Ecopoesis. In April 2019, she founded ECOPOESIS with her architecture colleagues Adam Marcus and Chris Falliers. ECOPOESIS is a movement designed to create dialogues and forms about climate change and the first gathering in April 2019 featured the work of ecological philosopher Timothy Morton, who attended and engaged with 36 humans gathered across disciplines. In July, 2019, Leslie tool ECOPOESIS to the Maldives, an island nation situated at sea level, to learn more about how local architecture and other students at Maldives National University were thinking about and responding to climate change. ECOPOESIS events are planned for 2020 and 2021 and the team is eager to connect with others interested in this movement. Please contact Leslie about ECOPOESIS, speaking, and other professional engagements through this website.
* Maldives National University, Male, The Maldives
LECTURE: THE ECOPOESIS MOVEMENT, 24 July, 2019
Exhibition: 25-26 July, Male, The Maldives; sponsored by the Maldives Architectural Association; Meraki Coffee, and the Maldives National University
* LITQUAKE: October, 2019, San Francisco
Reading//HERE IS WHERE I WALK: The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Oct. 12