What Does Shooting Wolves Have To Do With Rivers?

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About Jill Sisson Quinn

Jill Sisson Quinn's essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Ecotone, Fourth Genre, Quarter After Eight, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, and American Nature Writing 2003. Her first book, Deranged, will be published by Apprentice House this fall.


  1. suzanne rosenwasser says:

    What an amazing lesson. You captured the rhythm of the teenage mind so well. Where does one acquire the skill to turn everything into sexual innuendo? I’ve had that kid over and over again in my classes, constantly contributing to the undertoad. I was once counseled by a mentor that as long as the kids are talking about what the teacher’s talking about, there’s learning going on. That’s for sure in this class, and this essay. Wonderful ~ the exact opposite of analog teaching.

  2. Really excellent. I like the teaching perspective. It gives me hope to know there are people out there trying and making a difference.

  3. An amazing story, an amazing lesson, you must be an amazing teacher! I only wish all my English teachers in high school had been so engaging.

  4. Tom Matlack says:

    Jill I love many things about this piece. I saw it in draft form so it’s cool to see it now final. As the father of a 14 year old wise-guy the description of Cody is spot on (btw I just love his name…just brings to mind the wild west for me). I appreciated how you interwove the story of the hike, the essay, the boys, and the wolves. As a writer I know how hard that is to do effectively without losing forward momentum.

    Having spent a lot of time recently with adolescent boys in the inner city, probably what I appreciate most about this piece is the way boys of that age are so smart and yet so good at hiding it from the world and from themselves. To bring their intelligence is no small feat. But when it happens its like the sun bursting from behind the clouds. We need a lot more of that kind of sunshine in our country.

  5. Every teacher knows a Cody, and Quinn captures that deerhunter-country-redneck guy perfectly, without sacrificing his individuality. (Where I live, schools and even some courts close on the first day of hunting season. Several neighborhood Codys grew up in my kitchen.) After reading this I happened on Ted Hughes’ poem “Wolfwatching,” the perfect (tho urban) companion text. It also made me think of Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer , where it was coyotes rather than wolves, but the principle’s the same. I know Quinn’s writing, and it’s always wonderful–I’m looking forward to her first book, due out soon.

  6. Jill,

    What a pleasure to read. I live in New Mexico where wolf introduction is a controversial issue. I’ve heard the arguments from the ranchers and the environmentalists but this hypersexualized teenage boy’s take on it is the most insightful I’ve read so far and you have captured it so well.

  7. Jill, soon enouch I’ll be teaching those same boys, the ones who drive pickups and chew and see animals for their horns and their meat. Your essay gave me some hope and insight on how to approach them. You reflected and taught so thoughtfully, a mixture of empathy, disdain, and love. My first approach to their behavior would be to rempremand them but you show that by working with them, listening to them, and guiding them through the learning process, you can make much greater strides in your teaching. You also helped me realize the importance of writing about your teaching. It seems you gained some insight through writing your essay, weaving together the history of wolf populations, your hike, your teaching, and your relationship with Cody. This was so much fun to read. I hope to see more from you!

  8. Laura Shoffner says:

    I bow to you and your teacherly ways. Thanks for sharing Jill. I can’t wait for your book.

  9. “But the problem with Cody wasn’t his machismo or his hypersexuality.”

    I’m curious if anyone else picked this out and thought that there is a high probability that ‘Cody’ is or has been sexually abused?

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