Book cover: Field Notes on Listening

Field Notes on Listening

Kit Dobson
  • $18.00

June 14, 2022
156 PAGES | ISBN 978-1-989496-54-1

When Kit Dobson’s daughter looked at the field of stars on the screen at the beginning of a new Star Wars movie in the theatre and remarked to her father, “Yeah, right. There’s not that many stars,” Dobson suddenly realized his daughter had never truly seen the night sky. From then on Dobson began to think seriously about how little we, as humans, interact with the natural world and how that has changed our place within it. Field Notes on Listening is a response to our lack of connection to the land we call home, the difficult history of how many of us came to be here and what we could discover if we listened deeply to the world around us. Written in brief, elegant sections, Field Notes on Listening starts at Dobson’s kitchen table, a family heirloom, and wends through time and space, looking at his family’s lost farm, the slow violence of climate change, loss of habitat, the tensions of living in late-stage capitalism and through careful listening strives to find a way through it all, returning, in the end, to home and the same table.

Advance Praise

“The literatures of place – the very meaning of place – emerge from stories: tales we share around the kitchen table or over the hubbub of the bar, stories that we decipher from the land and our ways of living there, and legends in which we create our own meanings as we reflect and learn from the paths down which our lives wander. If a culture is a product of stories, those stories arise from individual experience. But we can’t hear those stories unless we listen. Too often, we don’t take the time to do that – we simply skate the surface of life until the ice runs out. We live today in fraught times; it seems the ice is running out not just figuratively but in reality. Never has it been so critical to listen to our home places and find the meanings in their stories. Kit Dobson is a very good listener – and an exceptional storyteller. His Field Notes on Listening are a fine addition to Canada’s literature of place, and to our collective project of finding ways to live that honour where we come from, mine our own lived experiences for meaning and offer the hope of better tales tomorrow.” – Kevin Van Tighem, author of Wild Roses Are Worth It: Reimagining the Alberta Advantage

“Kit Dobson’s field notes are welcome company for anyone wishing for a different pace, a more deliberate metronome, for our culture of hurry and distraction. They are stanzas that pause and pay attention to all the things we blur past – the lands and neighbourhoods where we live, the Indigenous and immigrant histories continuing to unfold, the humans among the more-than-human neighbours, the interdependent ecologies urban and rural whose prospects are so fragile. It’s a book that listens to what we seem determined to forget, to the threats to our collective future from the uncertain richness in the present place and moment.” – Daniel Coleman, author of Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place

“In a world reshaped before our eyes by climate change and by the pandemic, Field Notes on Listening suggests a way forward through a radical sort of listening. It is a kind of deep attending to place that many of us have forgotten how to practise; it is also a kind of listening to the changed world that is new and vitally present. When the path back to the lands we stand on and to those around us has been obscured almost to the vanishing point, Kit Dobson advocates for listening as an essential sort of navigation that re-grounds us. It is listening as though our lives depend on it . . . because they do.” – Jenna Butler, author of Revery: A Year of Bees


Double Review! Straggle: Adventures in Walking While Female by Tanis MacDonald & Field Notes on Listening by Kit Dobson (Jody Baltessen, Prairie Fire, 8/12/2023)
"Although [Dobson's] is a personal journey, the generous, meditative quality of his writing encourages readers to consider their own relationship to place, and perhaps to braid the story of the environment they inhabit into the story of their lives."


Author Interview: Kit Dobson (Uche Umezurike, Read Alberta, 09/09/2022)
"Because listening unfolds over time, it is, at least for me, a way of bearing witness that is less painful than watching the rapid-fire imagery of destruction that I see in daily news cycles."

E303 with KIT DOBSON (Jamie Tennant, Get Lit, 09/08/2022)
Kit and Jamie Tennant talk about Field Notes on Listening.


Books Full of Deep Thinking and Wonder (Kiley Turner, 49th Shelf, 06/01/2023)
Kit's book makes this great roundup.

Guest Poetry Blog Series #6 – Calgary-based Poet Micheline Maylor Features Canadian Writer Kit Dobson – Part Two of Two (Micheline Maylor, Recovering Words with Richard Osler, 22/12/2022)
"Field Notes on Listening reminds me to create a space for becoming more attentive to my immediate environment, to pay attention to how my own senses contribute to knowing."

The best Canadian nonfiction of 2022 (CBC Books, 13/12/2022)
Kit's book makes this list of the best Canadian nonfiction!

Lit Locale: Field Notes on Listening (All Lit Up, 11/08/2022)
A wonderful blog post about reading Field Notes on Listening.

Editors' Picks for August 2022 (Kiley Turner, 49th Shelf, 01/08/2022)
Kit's book is included in this August roundup!

Writing Alberta: A Recommended Reading List (Kit Dobson, 49th Shelf, 30/06/2022)
Kit shares a list of his recommended reads.

The CBC Books summer reading list: 45 cool books to read while the weather heats up (CBC Books, 23/06/2022)
Kit's book makes this list of the buzzworthy Canadian and international fiction and nonfiction books out right now.

2022 Spring Preview: Nonfiction (Quill & Quire, 12/02/2022)
Kit's book makes this spring preview!

Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Nonfiction Preview (49th Shelf, 14/02/2022)
Kit's new book makes this list of the 49th Shelf's most anticipated non-fiction!

39 works of Canadian nonfiction to watch for in spring 2022 (CBC Books, 19/01/2022)
Kit's book makes this list of works of non-fiction to watch for in Spring 2022!

About the Author

Kit Dobson lives and works in Calgary / Treaty 7 territory in southern Alberta. His previous books include Malled: Deciphering Shopping in Canada and he is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. He grew up in many places across Canada, but returned again and again to the landscapes of northern Alberta where his family members settled – and that continue to animate his thinking.

Other Titles By This Author

Malled: Deciphering Shopping in Canada (2017)

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