Episode 111 – Mudlarking with Ariel Gordon

Recorded on November 28, 2023

Ariel is on the podcast as part of the thread we’ve been having this year: off-page, extra literary, which has included discussions of artists’ books with Barrie Tullett and Sarah Bodman, recording studios with Gareth Auden-Hole, Pakistani folklore with Nimra and Manahil Bandukwala, the alphabet with Johanna Drucker, and book conservation with Christine McNair. This is the last episode on this thread.

Ariel Gordon


Siteseeing: Writing Nature and Climate Across the Prairies by Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt (At Bay Press, 2023)

We discuss FUNGAL, coming out with Wolsak and Wynn in Spring, 2024.

Ariel talks about the word “mudlark.” She talks about the difference between the subsistence requirements of those mudlarking on the Thames in London in the 19th century vs what she does in Winnipeg today on the banks of the Red River. Another term is “bottle picker.” I talk about Agnes Varda’s film, the Gleaners and I. We discuss scavenging and I mention my Instagram habit, #chairsofottawa https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/chairsofottawa/

Ariel says her next book will be about scavenging.

I ask Ariel what the initial spark was for her mudlarking.

Ariel talks about how mushrooming and mudlarking were complete practices and then were converted into writing.

We read an excerpt from Siteseeing together because they are call and response poems and can’t be read in isolation.

She talks about finding both archeological finds and trash and what it means to live in a city.

Ariel talks about hagstones, which I’ve never heard of before.

We talk about the connection between her writing and the environment.

We discuss the essay, Red River Mudlarker in Fungal. I address the wildness of the experience. We discuss the way nature makes us feel connected to the world.

Ariel talks about liking the broken dishes rather than in tact dishes.

We talk about the physicality of mudlarking.

I ask for ideas for a how to guide on mudlarking.

Ariel talks more about Siteseeing and FUNGAL. A third book, Stumped (or Treework) is coming out in 2026.

We read more from Siteseeing.

We talk about Ariel’s stained glass practice.

Thanks to Ariel Gordon for being on the show, to Charles Earl for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro/outro assistance, and to all of you for listening and sharing the episodes. Stay tuned for our final episode of 2023, the Poetic Elements of Fiction with Frances Boyle.