Black Nature, African American Nature Poetry

Saturday 8 July

Please join us for The More-Than-Human Book Club’s monthly discussion group.


For July we will read a selection of poems from “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.”

Considered to be the first anthology focusing on nature writing by African American poets, Black Nature was published in 2009 and edited by Professor Camille T Dungy. The publishers, University of Georgia Press write: “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… 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.”

We encourage you to buy the book, or borrow it from a library, but if you are unable to do so we can send you through an excerpt and some of the poems. And either way we will let you know the poems we intend to focus our discussions on.

We will meet in person in the Barbican library from 2.15pm and the discussion will run from 2.30-3.30pm with an option of continuing more informal discussions over tea in the cafe afterwards.

Like a traditional book club, we will go around the group and each share our thoughts about the poems in turn before engaging in a gently-guided group discussion. Please aim to read the poems before attending, and if you are unable to, and would just like to join in the discussion, or even attend and just listen, you would be very welcome.

We’re looking forward to meeting you all!

More about “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry“, edited by Camille T. Dungy:

“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”

“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. . . . 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.” – Booklist

“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.” -Library Journal

More about The Book Club

The More-Than-Human Book Club is a group that meets monthly both at The Barbican Library and online to talk about more-than-human experiences, wildness and nature writing in its broadest sense. Each month we choose a different book, film, artwork, poem or essay to discuss, including a mix of classic and contemporary works. We hope the space will provide a place of sanctuary, exploration and discovery, and be a place where community and connections are forged and inspiration is found. If you are interested in nature, literature, wildness, ecology, science, art and/or ideas, please do join us. We would love to have you there!

Its co-founders, hosts and curators are:

Olivia “Lilly” Edward. Lilly is a writer who specialises in nature and the environment. For the last two years she has been running nature writing events and panel discussions at the Royal Geographical Society, and she continues to review and write regularly for their magazine. She volunteers as a ranger in Richmond Park and is endlessly enthralled by the natural world and its web of ecological relationships.

Rhona Eve Clews. Rhona is an Artist, Healer and Ecologist. Rhona has a background in Psychology and Photography, holds an MFA in Fine Art from Slade School of Fine Art and teaches independently and for Slade Summer School. Drawing upon her past of growing up a hippie she works across writing, photography, performance and filmmaking, aiming to expand them into somatic, eco-feminist practices and contribute to wider ecological ethics of care.

Any questions please email us at

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