Portland magazine editor Brian Doyle selected as winner of 2017 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing

Awards and Rankings

February 9, 2017

The John Burroughs Association announced today that Brian Doyle, editor of the University of Portland's Portland magazine, has been selected as the winner of the 2017 John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing for his book Martin Marten, published by Macmillan Publishers in 2015.

This is the second time Doyle, who is currently on medical leave from the University, has been recognized by the John Burroughs Association. In 2012, he was honored with the award for Outstanding Published Nature Essay for "The Creature Beyond the Mountains," an homage to the sturgeon of the Pacific Northwest, which appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of Orion Magazine.

Martin Marten, only the second work of fiction to be awarded the Medal in its 90-year history, is an engaging novel about the relationship between a boy and a pine marten, the home they share in the forest near Mt. Hood, Oregon, and the other lives going on around them, human and other. For Martin Marten, Doyle closely observed the ways and habitats of pine martens and their relatives in the Oregon Cascades, and how they bump up against their two-legged neighbors where the wilderness meets the edge of human civilization.

Doyle's life as a writer has been a long field trip in the natural history of his own and other species. When he represents the lives of these animals, he does so with the accuracy of a zoologist blended with the imagination of the poet. The judges felt how he combined an acute sense of human behavior with a wild natural setting and the life of a native denizen of the forest showed uncommon breadth, depth, and originality of insight.

In addition to over 25 years as the editor of Portland magazine, Brian Doyle is well known to contemporary readers of environmental literature. His essays have appeared in Orion, The Atlantic Monthly, American Scholar, The New York Times, and other periodicals around the world, and have been reprinted in the annual anthologies Best American Essays, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing. He has also edited several anthologies. His many books include the critically acclaimed Mink River, The Plover, and Children and other Wild Animals. Other awards include the Oregon Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The John Burroughs Medal will be presented, and the Finalists recognized, on Monday, April 3, at 12 p.m., at the Annual Literary Awards ceremony of the John Burroughs Association during a celebratory luncheon at the Yale Club of New York City.

About the John Burroughs Medal

The John Burroughs Medal was created in 1926 to recognize the best in nature writing and to honor the literary legacy of naturalist John Burroughs. The Medal has been awarded annually to a distinguished book of nature writing that combines scientific accuracy, firsthand fieldwork, and excellent natural history writing. This year's winner was selected by a review committee of Medal recipients. 

Past Burroughs Medalists include Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Joseph Wood Krutch, Loren Eiseley, Paul Brooks, Roger Tory Peterson, John Hay, Peter Matthiessen, John McPhee, Ann Zwinger, Barry Lopez, Gary Nabhan, Robert Michael Pyle, Richard Nelson, Carl Safina, Jan DeBlieu, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Julia Whitty, Franklin Burroughs, Edward Hoagland, Thor Hanson, Sherry Simpson, and Sharman Apt Russell. 

The John Burroughs Association, founded in 1921, brings to life the legacy, writing, and natural world of John Burroughs, one of the nation's first literary naturalists. The Association makes his historic property and surrounding Nature Sanctuary with trails available to the public and students and recognizes distinguished nature writing through annual national literary awards to encourage writing about nature. It preserves and interprets the National Historic Landmark "Slabsides," his iconic 1895 rustic cabin retreat in West Park, NY, and offers education programs and field trips. The Association's awards include the John Burroughs Medal, Nature Essay Award, and Riverby Award for natural history books for young readers. It uniquely brings together the literary legacy of John Burroughs and the natural world he embraced, joining the written word that presents natural history with real-life experiences in nature. 


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