Segments in this Video

Robert Pyle (05:28)


Silver Donald Cameron introduces the poet, author, and scientist. Pyle reads his poem "Unwanted Creatures" that he wrote at an environmental writing retreat in Washington state. The poem is about humans interacting with nature.

Pyle's Start in Lepidopterology (11:15)

Pyle is a lepidopterist and has dedicated his work to the conservation of butterflies. He became interested in butterflies as a child in Colorado. He began working with professionals near his family's vacation cabin.

Pyle's Mentors (04:24)

Pyle had numerous mentors in lepidopterology and butterfly conservation that he met when he was 12-years-old. He continued to work, study, and eventually teach alongside them for most of his career. He created the Xerxes Society in the 1971 to focus on protecting endangered butterflies.

Pyle at Yale (03:13)

After Pyle launched the Xerxes Society, his mentor convinced him to go to Yale University for a doctorate. He began an annual butterfly count with other lepidopterists. He later went on to study butterflies in England.

Pyle's Xerxes Society (04:13)

The Xerxes Society has continued for more than 45 years. It is currently making breakthroughs in entomology. He believes his parents' encouragement of his interest in nature led to him starting the society.

Models of Conservationism (04:48)

Cameron praises the Lepidopterology Society and the Xerxes Society for encouraging amateur conservationists, in addition to scientists. The rigid class system in England and other countries led to the creation of a professional society and an amateur society for many types of conservation. Pyle wanted to combine the two with the Xerxes Society.

Pyle's Career (09:54)

Pyle believes the correct mentors and opportunities came into his life at the right time to help his career progress. He enjoyed taking unconventional chances, such as teaching at experimental colleges or taking time off teaching to write poetry.

Pyle's Writing Career (04:39)

Pyle’s fourth grade teacher encouraged him to start writing about topics that interested him, such as butterflies. He wrote his first article about lepidopterology when he was 18. Many of his books are collections of scholarly articles he has written for journals.

Pyle's Freelancing (06:01)

Pyle has spent most of his career as a freelance writer and intellectual. He has enjoyed the path but has not found economic success. He used writing and lecturing as a way to financially support his research.

Pyle's Writing on Butterflies (10:12)

Pyle studied the work of Vladimir Nabokov, who was an entomologist before becoming a novelist. Pyle wrote a book analyzing Nabokov's nonfiction and fiction writing on butterflies. Pyle has found a balance in his work of art and science.

Pyle's Land Conversation (08:50)

Pyle explains how his love of ruined lands stemmed from his childhood in the Colorado suburbs. He began lobbying to protect butterfly habitats while still in high school. He developed the concept of the extinction of experience.

Pyle and Nature Deficit Disorder (05:29)

Pyle advocates for urban green space and turning formerly condemned lands in public spaces. He believes the commonality of technology in today’s society has led to less connection with nature.

Pyle and Logging (10:00)

Pyle moved to Garys River, Washington in the 1970s and saw the operations of the logging industry. He was a radical conservationist in college who opposed all logging, but realized the importance of logging to the economy in the Pacific Northwest. He worked with local organizations to protect small areas of old growth forests.

Pyle and Loss of Place (02:23)

Pyle tells people to not get too attached to a single place and look at conservation on a larger scale. He has written about the beauty of damaged lands and seeing the worth of what remains in a natural landscape.

Pyle and Monarch Butterflies (01:14)

Pyle has been involved in monarch butterfly conservation since the 1970s. He helped label them as an endangered phenomenon and brought their conservation to international attention.

Pyle and Poetry (09:49)

Pyle's interest in poetry grew as he traveled more and got to know more writers. He loves seeing an audience react to spoken word poetry and realize that poetry can affect them in a way they did not know was possible.

Pyle and Solace (10:42)

Pyle finds solace in walking, poetry, and nature. He believes any plight can be solved by appreciating the beauty of nature. He enjoys the performance art elements of poetry readings.

Pyle Conclusion (00:36)

Cameron concludes his interview with Pyle. He recommends other "Green Interview" episodes with scientists and poets.

Credits: Robert Pyle: Butterflies, Poems, and Ruined Lands (00:15)

Credits: Robert Pyle: Butterflies, Poems, and Ruined Lands

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Robert Pyle: Butterflies, Poems, and Ruined Lands

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This episode of The Green Interview features Robert Pyle, an author, poet, butterfly expert, and teacher. When we think of biodiversity most of us probably think of the declining global populations of whales, apes, tigers and birds, creatures that generally resemble us. But the invertebrates—insects, sea urchins, worms, weevils and the like—those life forms constitute 97% of all animal species, a huge swatch of the great sacred web of life on earth. Pyle cares deeply about invertebrates, and in 1971 created the Xerces Society, which is named for an extinct blue butterfly and it’s dedicated to the conservation of invertebrate life. Pyle is also a popular writer with numerous books to his credit and he’s an eloquent advocate for improbable forms of conservation like advocacy for the damaged lands in Washington State where he lives—lands that have been ravaged by resource industries. He also worries about what he calls the extinction of experience, the decline of direct human contact with the natural world, which leads to the loss of our sensitivity to it.

Length: 114 minutes

Item#: BVL163282

ISBN: 978-1-64481-647-9

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA.