Black Nature share button
Camille T. Dungy
Format Paperback
Dimensions 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)
Pages 432
Publisher University of Georgia Press
Publication Date December 2009
ISBN 9780820334318
Book ISBN 10 0820334316
About Book

Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated.

Black poets have a long tradition of incorporating treatments of the natural world into their work, but it is often read as political, historical, or protest poetry—anything but nature poetry. This is particularly true when the definition of what constitutes nature writing is limited to work about the pastoral or the wild.

Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems from 93 poets that provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry and African American poetics. This collection features major writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling Brown, Robert Hayden, Wanda Coleman, Natasha Trethewey, and Melvin B. Tolson as well as newer talents such as Douglas Kearney, Major Jackson, and Janice Harrington. Included are poets writing out of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century African American poetic movements.

Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole.

A Friends Fund Publication.


Library Journal

No pleasures are more aesthetic than poetry and nature, so it is only natural that the two should unite. Editor Dungy here merges the worlds in a satisfying compilation that features over 100 poems by 93 African American poets, including celebrated writers June Jordan and Yusef Komunyakaa as well as newer artists like Remica L. Bingham and Indigo Moor. The collection, which is assembled in cycles that beg "Nature, Be with Us," recognizes "Pest, People Too," and recalls "What the Land Remembers," explores a multitude of themes that incorporate the beauty, transformation, and unpredictability of Earth's elements. Though the collection moves away from political and protest poetry, readers will likely appreciate "Disasters, Natural and Other," as the section draws from familiar incidents. James A. Emanuel's "Emmett Till" paints a haunting yet wondrous fantasy of his spirit, while Douglas Kearney's historical "Floodsong 2: Water Moccasin's Spiritual" has contemporary relevance following Hurricane Katrina. VERDICT Expanding the realm of traditional nature poetry and African American writings, this work will appeal to readers of both genres.—Ashanti White, Univ. of North Carolina at Greensboro