Environmental Justice Literature

Over the centuries poets, fiction writers and "nature writers" from communities of color have been largely ignored or misread when they raised what we would now call ej concerns. That history is being slowly recovered. And increasing numbers of contemporary poets, fiction and creative non-fiction writers are dealing with issues of environmental racism and environmental justice, as it impacts various communities around the US and around the globe. Below are links to some of the best of those authors. We welcome suggestions for additional writers to feature.

Featured Books

    Margo Tamez, Raven Eye. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.
    A wonderful, terrible work of environmental justice poetry that brings passion, activist experience and a poet\'s eye to the many intersections of racism, sexism, colonialism and the earth. Raven Eye "maps an uprising of a borderland indigenous woman battling forces of racism and sexual violence against Native women, ... skillfully revealing an unseen narrative of resistance on the Mexico-U.S. border. A powerful blend of the oral and long poem, and speaking into the realm of global movements, these poems explore environmental injustice, sexualized violence, and indigenous women’s lives."

    Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry Edited by Camille T Dungy. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2009.
    A great text for exploring the long history of environmental racism as a theme in the black poetic tradition. Includes180 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.\"

Key Authors

  • Toni Cade Bambara African American author of the remarkable novel, The Salt Eaters, a work rich in environmental justice themes.
  • Ana Castillo Chicana author of one of the great environmental justice novels, So Far From God.
  • Linda Hogan Chickasaw poet, novelist and environmental writer.
  • Winona LaDuke Anishinabeg ej activist-writer.
  • Cherrie Moraga Chicana author of the environmental justice play "Heroes and Saints."
  • Barbara Neely African American author of the mystery/environmental justice novel Blanche Cleans Up.
  • Simon Ortiz Acoma Pueblo poet, fictionist, nature/culture essayist.
  • Leslie Marmon Silko Languna Pueblo novelist, poet and writer.
  • Margo Tamez Lipan-Jumano Apache, poet and ej activist.
  • Helena Maria Viramontes Author of the EJ farmworker novel, Under the Feet of Jesus.
  • Karen Tei Yamashita Asian American author of Tropic of Orange and Arc of the Rainforest, two novels that raise environmental justice issues in the context of corporate globalization and resistance.

Further Research