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Eastern Kentucky University professor David Zurick wins 2017 Nautilus Award for Lyrical Prose

His previous books have illuminated life in the Himalayas and the American South.

Now, Eastern Kentucky University Foundation Professor Dr. David Zurick has won one of the publishing industry’s most prestigious honors – a 2017 Nautilus (Silver) Award – for his most recent work. “Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond: Seeing a World in the Garden” is one of only three Silver winners in the Lyrical Prose category (a fourth book won a Gold) and one of only 209 books to win awards across 43 categories.

Previous winners of the award include such luminaries as Desmund Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Judy Collins, Mariel Hemingway, Barbara Kingsolver, Deepak Chopra, and Charles, Prince of Wales.

Dr. David Zurick at Mt. Kailash, Tibet (Photo from EKU)

“Morning Coffee,” from Shanti Arts Publishing, recounts the time in Zurick’s life he built a goldfish pond in his backyard in the Wolf Gap holler in rural Madison County.

“Yet there is more to a goldfish pond than meets the eye,” the publisher said in its synopsis of the book. “Zurick’s compelling story travels the world, encompassing places of extraordinary beauty and rich cultural traditions, but the core of it is Wolf Gap holler, where he lives among hard-working and community-minded neighbors, cuts firewood to keep warm in the winter, and enjoys morning coffee by his goldfish pond.

“Entertaining and informative, the book at first seems so simple that one barely notices its treatises on the sacred qualities of place, the contemplative virtues of nature, the dilemmas of sustainability, and the spiritual framework that undergirds life. Yet, this is what this book is about: a sacred and seamless landscape that extends from the highest mountain plateaus of Tibet to the deepest hollers of Kentucky.”

Zurick, who’ll wrap up a 31-year career as a geography professor at EKU this fall, said he wrote the book to “explore the challenges of living a local and thoughtful life in our deeply connected world.”

Each essay examines a different theme and extends his home life (and its garden and goldfish pond) to the issues of global sustainability. “In many ways,” he said, “it sums up my academic concerns developed over the past 35 years as a geographer and brings them to roost in my own backyard. I take complex ideas and seek to render them simply, so people can better understand them. This ranges widely across the world, based on my own personal experiences. I hope that readers will find the book to be entertaining and thought-provoking, and have some relevance to their own lives.”

Author and activist Bell Hooks said of Zurick’s book: “Seductively, this work unfolds a geography of the world that is both local and global, both meditation and contemplation. It offers readers diverse ways of living and being in the world.”

“This book is a journey into the depths of life and our contemporary challenges,” wrote author and environmentalist Mary Evelyn Tucker. “Rarely have I seen the local and global more elegantly juxtaposed. The result is nothing short of masterful.”

Trailer for “Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond: Seeing a World in the Garden”


Zurick received the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award and in 2008 was named an EKU Foundation Professor, the highest honor bestowed by the University for excellence in teaching, service and research.

He is the author of four books on the Himalayan region: “Land of Pure Vision,” “My Kind of Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World,” “Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya” and “The Himalaya: Encounters with the Roof of the World.”

Other Zurick-penned titles include “Errant Journeys: Adventure Travel in a Modern Age” and “Southern Crossings: Where Geography and Photography Meet,” which earned the Outdoor Book honor.

From Eastern Kentucky University

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