Purple Sells Books
Minerva Louise

Poetry Friday: Black Nature

ImageDB-1.cgi  I've just started Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, but wanted to go ahead and mention it since I think lots of Poetry Friday followers will like the anthology. The poems I've read so far cover ground from beautiful to heartbreaking to political—and them some. You'll find Wright, Dove, Hughes, Trethewey, Giovanni, and less familiar names among the poets here.

I was thrilled to come across the following poem by one of my hometown literary heroes, Margaret Walker. "My Mississippi Spring" begins 

My heart warms under snow
flowers with forsythia
japonica blooms, flowering quince, 
bridal wreath, blood root and violet;

You can read the poem in its entirety, plus an essay by Black Nature's editor, Camille T. Dungy, at the Poetry Foundation. (Her article is about the "resurrecting" quality of spring in the South.)

I hope your hearts warm under all the snow forecast this weekend. If I were a high-school teacher, I'd add this book to my classroom library pronto. While Black Nature was published for grown-ups, many teenagers would likely enjoy it, too.

The Poetry Friday roundup is at the blog Great Kid Books today.  

Dungy, Camille T. (editor). Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. University of Georgia Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780820334318

Cover image borrowed from Powell's Books


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This sounds like an interesting one. I got Gloryland by Shelton Johnson for my father this past Christmas; it's a novel about African Americans and their ties to Yosemite. Johnson is a ranger at Yosemite, and said that if prominent African American celebs (he named Oprah and Snoop Dog) patronized National Parks, people of color would suddenly realize that the parks belong to THEM too. (He says he rarely sees African Americans at Yosemite.)

All of THAT was to say that nature writing was not a poetic them I saw coming, linked to black people! But I'm glad of it.

Sounds great - I'll have to find a copy to review for Guys Lit Wire!

Tanita, I'll have to look for Gloryland. Black Nature strikes me as edgier than the usual nature poetry books; I like that about the collection. Several of Richard Wright's haiku poems are in there.

Kelly, great idea for Guys Lit Wire! I am so happy to have stumbled across this book at the library.

A fan from the Outdoor Afro facebook page shared this link with everyone -- what a great find! I can't wait to check it out. Also check out the book: Black and Brown Faces in America's Wild Spaces, by Dudley Edmondson and Audrey Peterman's Legacy on the Land -- both great companions for Black Nature I would imagine.

Thanks for the heads up about this book. I'll have to see if there are some good poems to use in my classroom. Kids need to see themselves in poems and books.

Rue, thank you for stopping by, and for the titles of the other books. Each section of Black Nature begins with an essay, and last night I read several of those. It's a very interesting book and definitely means to enlarge the traditional idea of nature poetry. it's absolutely edgier--and more historical--than the usual.

Mary Lee, there is not a lot for younger children, but I will keep my eye out. If you read it, let me know, and we would have a good discussion, I'm sure.

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