Oates, David 1950–

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Oates, David 1950–

PERSONAL: Born March 12, 1950, in Glendale, CA; companion of Horatio Hung-Yan Law (an artist). Education: Emory University, Ph.D., 1978.

ADDRESSES: Office—Clark College, 1800 N. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98663.

CAREER: Writer. Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC, assistant professor of English, 1978–80; Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, adjunct professor of English and humanities, 1980–84; Northrop University, Los Angeles, CA, assistant professor, 1985–90, associate professor of English, 1990–91, chair of department of humanities and social sciences, 1989–91; Clark College, Vancouver, WA, professor of English, 1993–. Adjunct professor at Pepperdine University, 1992, and Marylhurst University, 1993–94, 2001–.


Earth Rising: Ecological Belief in an Age of Science, Oregon State University Press (Corvallis, OR), 1989.

Peace in Exile (poetry), Oyster River Press (Durham, NH), 1992.

Paradise Wild: Reimagining American Nature, Oregon State University Press (Corvallis, OR), 2003.

Channeling Walt in Time of War (poetry), privately printed, 2004.

Contributor to reference books; contributor of articles, fiction, and poetry to periodicals, including Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Isotope, and Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Portland Unlimited: A Walking Journey around an Urban and Natural Experiment (tentative title); StealHead, a collection of poetry, history, fiction, art, and autobiography.

SIDELIGHTS: David Oates told CA: "My mission as a writer is to encourage responsibility and loving kindness toward ourselves and the natural world—at the same time. Once we recognize that Eden is not lost—that we are not trapped on the wrong side of Paradise—that nature is not ended, then we can get to work fixing our mistakes, doing a better job of living as part of the wild, amazing, natural world.

"It's always partly a personal story, so I start with the funny/sad tale of how I took myself into the mountains for refuge, a gay boy raised in a fundamentalist household, trying to establish myself in the macho world of mountaineering.

"From there, I find myself exploring wildly different (but overlapping) subject areas: questions of gender definition and queerness; episodes of our use and abuse of the natural world; the influence of nature writers like John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and my own great-great uncle William Bartram; other writers, especially Walt Whitman; and how we construct our natural and urban reality. I often try to ground this exploration in concrete bodily experience. The act of walking itself is frequently both the subject and the opportunity for further discovery.

"I employ strategies of imitating, reimagining, and appropriating elements of the past. As I walk the 260-mile Portland "Urban Growth Boundary,' I create imagined dialogues with dead 'companions' whose work has influenced mine, such as Italo Calvino and Paul Shepard. Poems in Channeling Walt in Time of War take the voice of Whitman or try to re-see what lynching means. I examine the strange intertwined Northwest stories of Ranald McDonald, Chief Concomly, and Meredith Gairdner, and feel a transhistorical kinship drawing their time toward ours.

"I'd like to probe what it means to be a creative, intellectual, political, and sexual being in a time when our country is making war and abusing the natural world. Detached attachment makes sense to me. We must remember that every historical age is a horror, within which one must find peace and beauty, even while fighting fiercely for the truth that will remind us of our common flesh."



Oates, David, Paradise Wild: Reimagining American Nature, Oregon State University Press (Corvallis, OR), 2003.


Lambda Book Report, August-September, 2004, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, review of Paradise Wild: Reimagining American Nature, p. 18.


David Oates Home Page, http://www.davidoates.info/ (February 17, 2005).