Black Poets on Nature

What Tells You Ripeness represents several firsts–Pangyrus’s first guest editorship, and first book publication–and an important second.  Guest poetry editor Nikki Wallschlaeger aims to continue the groundbreaking work of Camille T. Dungy, whose anthology Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, was published in 2009. 

What Tells You Ripeness: Black Poets on Nature offers an incredible lineup of poets writing about nature, including Danielle Legros Georges, Faylita Hicks, Kelsey Marie Harris, M.L. Kejera, J. Stephen Whitney, upfromsumdirt, and many others.

In Wallschlaeger’s words: “I think it’s important to highlight, during this time, that white supremacy and trauma are not the only topics Black writers are capable of writing about. The natural world itself is not racist. Isn’t that great? We can at least have that—as a space of connection, abundance, and complexity.”

Pangyrus is grateful to artist Keith Morris Washington for his generous permission to use Willie Minnefield: Swamp; Yazoo City, Mississippi as the cover art for What Tells You Ripeness: Black Poets on Nature. The painting is from Washington’s series Within Our Gates, an ongoing project depicting lynching sites throughout the United States.

Pangyrus Guest Editor Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections  Houses (Horseless Press 2015), Crawlspace (Bloof 2017), the graphic book  I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (Bloof Books 2019), and the forthcoming Waterbaby (Copper Canyon 2021). She is also the author of an artist book called “Operation USA” through the Baltimore-based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. 

Pangyrus Poetry Editor Cheryl Clark Vermeulen is a poet, editor, translator, and educator. She is the author of the poetry book They Can Take It Out (The Word Works, 2021) and chapbooks This Paper Lantern (Dancing Girl Press) and Dead-Eye Spring (Cy Gist Press). Her poems and translations appear in journals The Mantis, Gigantic Sequins, Bombay Gin, American Poetry Journal, Heavy Feather Review, Drunken Boat, Caketrain, Jubilat, Sixth Finch, Third Coast, among others and the anthology Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico. She received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Liberal Arts at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Originally from Illinois, she lives in Boston, MA.