Talking nature, culture, art and friendship

Kim Chapman, Jim Armstrong and Lad Hanka

Three Friends Talking: (l-r) Kim Chapman ’77, Jim Armstrong, and Lad Hanka ’75 (photo by Susan Andress)

Kim Alan Chapman ’77 is co-author of “Nature, Culture, and Two Friends Talking,” a collection of essays addressing the complex relationships humans have with the natural world. The book is in part the story of a 30-year friendship between Kim, an ecologist living in St. Paul, Minn., and James Armstrong, a poet and English professor at Winona State University in Winona, Minn. Their story centers on love of nature and a shared quest to understand how to save what they love. At turns literary and scholarly, their essays, poems, and public presentations document the evolution of their ideas and expressions of this love. They also reflect American culture’s own dialogue about nature and conservation.

One section of the book, “From the Darkness, Light: What an Ecologist and Poet See in an Artist’s Work,” revolves around the two writers reacting via email to etchings of rural scenes set in southern Michigan by Kalamazoo-based artist Ladislav Hanka ’75, their longtime mutual friend. That exchange also led to a live—and lively—discussion at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts about how Lad’s work creates a dynamic confrontation between art and science, wildness and civilization, beauty and ugliness, darkness and light. All three friends joined in the conversation before a large audience at the KIA.

Listen to an interview with the two authors talking about their collaboration on WMUK-FM radio at Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo:

Kim has worked as a conservationist, consultant, teacher, and ecologist for 30 years. In addition to his B.A. degree in biology from Kalamazoo College, he holds a M.A. degree in biology (ecology) from WMU, and a Ph.D. degree in conservation biology from University of Minnesota. His other publications include “Valley of Grass” (North Star Press), winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

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About Andy Brown

As the Director of Media Relations and Online Content, Andy shares the stories that distinguish Kalamazoo College through social media, the Web and the news media. Contact him at