Edited Collections


  Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

Edited by Camille T. Dungy
University of Georgia Press, December 2009

Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets.  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, Nikki Giovanni, and Melvin B. Tolson, as well as newer talents, such as Douglas Kearney, Amber Flora Thomas, 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.


Winner of the 2010 Northern California Book Award Special Recognition Award

2010 NAACP Image Award Nominee


Kevin Moore. "Award winning poet speaks out to support environmental conservation." The Campus Voice. October 4, 2011.

View a symposium, held March 19, 2010 at UC Berkley, of poets and academics discussing the publication of Black Nature.

"'Black Nature': Poems of Promise and Survival." Interview with Renee Montagne of NPR's Morning Edition. April 19th, 2010.

Praise for the anthology

Just as nature is too often defined as wilderness when, in fact, nature is everywhere we are, our nature poetry is too often defined by Anglo-American perspectives, even though poets of all backgrounds write about the living world. By creating an anthology of nature poetry by African American writers, poet and editor Dungy enlarges our understanding of the nexus between nature and culture, and introduces a "new way of thinking about nature writing and writing by black Americans." African American poets describe the need for practical knowledge of the wild to survive, the toil of working the land, and moments of spiritual communion with nature’s countless manifestations. Dungy provides an arresting introductory overview of 180 poems by 93 poets, and incisive essays accompany each thematic grouping. This analysis is dynamic and crucial, but the poems, beginning with Lucille Clifton’s "the earth is a living thing," are ravishing. Dungy’s unique, enlightening, and heart-opening anthology embraces George Moses Horton, who lived as a slave, and today’s award-winning Cyrus Cassells, haiku by Richard Wright, and poems funny, smart, sexy, devastating, and exquisite by Nikki Giovanni, Janice N. Harrington, Yusef Komunyakaa, Carl Phillips, and their many resounding peers, each expressing provocative perceptions of the great tide of existence.

—Donna Seaman, Booklist Starred Review

“Dungy has compiled what might have taken a lifetime to assemble, yet here it is at this moment when our culture is assessing both its relationship to the natural world and its relationship with its black citizens. The timing could not be better for such a comprehensive look at what black poets have contributed to our understanding of nature. What excites about this anthology is that it is not only the richest and most comprehensive collection of poems by black poets I have read, it is the richest and most comprehensive collection of poems about nature that I have read. I believe the book should be widely read, taught, and talked about.”

—Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Rope

"With extraordinary insight and substantial creative vision the rich synthesis of this anthology offers a strikingly original contour to the seasons of Black poets and poetry. The critical wisdom accumulated here is as important as the beautifully structured cycles that Dungy uses as landscaped categories to contain these important poems. The methodology here is as graceful as it is rigorously intelligent. Dungy's anthology is a major contribution to twenty-first century Black Studies."

—Karla FC Holloway, author of BookMarks: Reading in Black and White--A Memoir

+ more praise

"Camille Dungy’s anthology, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, offers a fresh new vision of the African American poetic canon. In eliciting black poems that redefine the Western tradition of nature poetry, she has provided a new configuration for African American poetry, one that is postmodern and neo-pastoralist. Black Nature expands the horizon of black poetry from the frequently anthologized themes of blues, social commentary, and urban pastoral and demonstrates that black is also green, a theme consonant with the twenty-first century. Publishing many young poets writing since the post Black Arts Movement, Dungy’s Black Nature achieves a contemporary emphasis. It is ideal for introductory and advanced African American literature courses."

—Robert Chrisman, Editor-in-Chief, The Black Scholar

"Black Nature is the most exciting anthology of poetry I've read in years. In part this reflects the superb quality and remarkable range of Camille Dungy's selections. But it also comes from her decision to organize the book's contents into ten thematic "cycles" rather than chronologically. Each of the sections responds distinctively and dramatically to Lucille Clifton's question with which Dungy frames the entire volume: "why/is there under that poem always/ an other poem?" This collection will quickly become essential reading for poets and scholars, as well as for courses on American poetry and the literature of nature."

—John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home


  From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great 

Camille T. Dungy, Matt O'Donnell, & Jeffrey Thomson (Editors)
Gerald Stern (Foreword)
Persea Books, April 2009

Derived from the From the Fishouse Web site, a one-of-a-kind on-line archive devoted to the oral and aural aspects of contemporary American poetry, the From the Fishouse print anthology is a jamboree of poetry at its acoustic best. It collects over 175 poems by nearly a hundred poets from the archive, dividing them into ten playful thematic sections. Each poem is a striking example of why poetry is meant not just to be read, but read aloud.

To complement the poems, the book includes illuminating excerpts from the Web site's Q&As with the poets, and, in the Fishouse tradition of poetry as an oral/aural form, it comes with a compact disc that features dynamic recitations of 36 of the poems in the book.

Indispensable for poetry lovers of any ilk, From the Fishouse is the most exciting, portable way to experience the array of poetry being written and performed in the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Included are poems from Lindsay Ahl, Dan Albergotti, Kazim Ali, Lucy Anderton, Christian Barter, Curtis Bauer, Sherwin Bitsui, Rebecca Black, Adrian Blevins, Paula Bohince, Roger Bonair-Agard, Shane Book, Geoffrey Brock, Stacey Lynn Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Tina Chang, Suzanne Cleary, Mark Conway, Kyle G. Dargan, Chad Davidson, Oliver de la Paz, Anthony Deaton, Diana Marie Delgado, Matthew Dickman, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Patrick Donnelly, Camille T. Dungy, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Monica Ferrell, Charles Flowers, Sarah Gambito, Ross Gay, Dobby Gibson, Kevin A. González, Rigoberto González, Kevin Goodan, Stuart Greenhouse, Sarah Gridley, Paul Guest, Matthea Harvey, James Hoch, Maria Hummel, Major Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Ilya Kaminsky, Gillian Kiley, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Keetje Kuipers, Rodger LeGrand, Dana Levin, Sarah Lindsay, Reb Livingston, Anne Marie Macari, Sarah Manguso, Cate Marvin, Adrian Matejka, Charlotte Matthews, Sebastian Matthews, Leslie McGrath, Michael McGriff, Erika Meitner, Sarah Messer, Thorpe Moeckel, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Kate Northrop, Sabrina Orah Mark, April Ossmann, Eugene Ostashevsky, Gregory Pardlo, V. Penelope Pelizzon, Jon Pineda, Hermine Pinson, John Poch, David Roderick, Patrick Rosal, Steve Scafidi, Ravi Shankar, Matthew Shenoda, Evie Shockley, Sean Singer, Tracy K. Smith, Laura-Gray Street, Jeffrey Thomson, Brian Turner, Anthony Walton, Camille-Yvette Welsch, Gabriel Welsch, Eliot Khalil Wilson, Suzanne Wise, and Douglas Woodsum.

Praise for the anthology

Tomorrow's poets create classics today with the group anthology From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems That Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. Nearly two hundred poems by one hundred poets, it's a fine catalogue of what the world of poetry can expect in the future from these excellent, aspiring stars…. From the Fishouse is a top pick for fans of poetry anthologies.

Midwest Book Review