Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, edited by Simmons Buntin, Elizabeth Dodd, and Derek SheffieldWe are delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, edited by Terrain.org editors Simmons Buntin, Elizabeth Dodd, and Derek Sheffield and published by Trinity University Press on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2020*–with a launch, readings, and signings at AWP in San Antonio in early March. All royalties from sale of the book will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

When you get a book like this, Dear America, you carry it with you into war, onto the battlefield, into classrooms, because it’s not just a book in the traditional sense, it’s a tool to sharpen the dull mind, to see injustice where before you let it pass. It’s a weapon to raise when others raise their rifles. You shake this book in their faces and tell them, This is who we are, this is what we’ve made, this is us and what we fight for and represent and will protect for our children’s children.
   – Jimmy Santiago Baca

America is at a crossroads. Conflicting political and social perspectives reflect a need to collectively define our moral imperatives, clarify cultural values, and inspire meaningful change. In that patriotic spirit, more than 170 writers, artists, scientists, and political and community leaders have come together since the 2016 presidential election to offer their impassioned letters to America. Dear America collects more than 80 of those (revised) letters plus 50 new, not-previously-published letters.

In the inaugural piece in our Letter to America series and the first letter in this book, Alison Hawthorne Deming writes, “Think of the great spirit of inventiveness the Earth calls forth after each major disturbance it suffers. Be artful, inventive, and just, my friends, but do not be silent.” In Dear America, the diverse voices from across the country are anything but silent.

These letters come from a deep, real love of this place, and they imagine willing, receptive readers on the other end. We need a series of miracles looking forward, and this is one.
   – Bill McKibben

 
Dear America
is divided into 11 sections:

Simmons Buntin, Introduction

Calls to Action
Alison Hawthorne Deming, Letter to America
Ana Maria Spagna, This Land Is (Still) Our Land
Erin Coughlin Hollowell, From the End of the Road
Seth Abramson, Americas
Gregory McNamee, Of Truth, Post-Truth, Alternative Facts, and Lies
Martha Silano, I don’t know how to write a letter to America,
Ever Jones, An American Song
Jennifer Case, November, Third Trimester
Suzanne Frischkorn, It’s Time to Teach My Daughter How
Fenton Johnson, My Mother’s Vote
Robin Wall Kimmerer, The Windigo

Extractions, Extinctions, and Depletions
Taylor Brorby, Notes to America
Georgia Pearle, Refinery
Amanda Hawkins, After the Election
Brian Laidlaw, I Had Heard
Deborah Thompson, Latte Capitalism
Dana Sonnenschein, Let Sleeping Wolves Lie
Barbara Hurd, Lamentations
Catherine Staples, Swallows: Common Yet Declining
Derek Sheffield, What Will Keep Us
Todd Davis, In the Garden
Sherwin Bitsui, A World Departs
Andrea Cohen, Stone Age
Todd Boss, She’s Going to Be Beautiful

Geographies of Exclusion
Francisco Cantú, Assembly-Line Justice
David Hernandez, History Kids
Bob Ferguson, A President, a Travel Ban, and a Playdate
Peggy Shumaker, Red Sky
Linda Hogan, The Earth Was Once Water
Juan J. Morales, 20,000 Pallets of Bottled Water
Scott Warren, “Virtually Uninhabited”
Christian Wiman, Club
Naomi Shihab Nye, Invitation to the NSA
Allison Hedge Coke, Song for Long America
Karen An-hwei Lee, Dear America, Sanctuary of a Posthuman Exile
Traci Brimhall, Aperture: A Photoless Photo Essay
J. Drew Lanham, Still Birding While Black
Ellen Bass, The Red-Bellied Woodpecker’s Tongue

Climate Change and Science Denial
Debra Marquart, Come November
Kurt Caswell, The River between Us
Christopher Merrill, Please Do Not Spit Everywhere
Diana Liverman, Our Climate Future
Anita Desikan, Science under Fire
Jacob Carter, Letter from a Concerned Scientist
Sarah Inskeep, To Think Like a Mountain
R. T. Smith, Whirling Disease

Memories (Imaginings) and Other Americas
Lauret Savoy, An American Question
Jericho Brown, Duplex
Amanda Gailey, Left to Themselves They Tell Lies
Anne P. Beatty, Look at the Ways We Work upon Them
Diana Babineau, First Picture Day in America
Lee Ann Roripaugh, Dear America / Dear Motherland: An Essay in Fractures
Sandra Steingraber, Not a Good German
Yelizaveta P. Renfro, As American as Turning Your Back on the Flag
Lee Herrick, Each One a Bright Light
Miriam Marty Clark, What You’d Want to Remember
Allen Gee, The End of the Pier
Elena Passarello, Receiver, Achiever, Reliever, Believer
Jasmine Elizabeth Smith, Drowned and Reborn
Chris Dombrowski, To the First of Getting Longer Days
Rhina P. Espaillat, Crayons

Ambient Violences and Misogynies
José Angel Araguz, American Studies
Robert Wrigley, Somewhere I Have Never Traveled
Debbie Weingarten, The Woods and the Weeds
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Something Like Tenderness
Blas Falconer, Fatherland
Erin Malone, No One Expects an Answer
Lesley Wheeler, The South
Colleen J. McElroy, To Occupant
Victoria Chang, Obit
Brenda Hillman, Titration
Tod Marshall, Sentinel
Heather Ryan, In Case of Active Shooter
Alexandra Teague, “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” (arranged for Brazen Bull)
Sholeh Wolpé, Reply All
Sandra Meek, Abracadabra

The Power of Panic / The Power of Art
Scott Minar, Mortar Shells, Lunch, and Poetry
Jen Hirt, I Am the Witness: Accidents in a Time of Trump
Rob Carney, Poetic Justice
Jane Hirshfield, Spell to Be Said against Hatred
Kathryn Miles, Hasten to Understand
Elizabeth Dodd, That Corpse You Planted in Your Garden
Rose McLarney, Reach
Anne Haven McDonnell, In the Wake
Kathleen Dean Moore, A Great Dawn Chorus
Laura-Gray Street, Storm Season
Michael P. Branch, Closing Time
Nicole Walker, Shoes
Joy Castro, The Little Painter

Images from the Front
Dean Rader, In Which Twombly and Rader Consider the Letter
Ellen Welti, The Lacunose
Patri Hadad, You Are Not the Only America
John Gallaher, Jeffersonian 2016
Sarah Skeen, To Tell the Past from the Future
Pete Souza, Not of the Highest Character
Pete Souza, Of the Highest Character

The Power of Satire
Kim Stafford, Presidential Alert
John T. Price, We Need to Talk
Richard Kenney, #donaldcommanderintweet
Andrew S. Yang, America: In Theory and Practice
Vince Gotera, Fourteen Donalds
Tarfia Faizullah, I Go In
Dennis Held, Why I Am Not President: A Campaign Speech

Geographies of Inclusion and Renewal
Gary Soto, After His Election, I Make a Zen Garden
Sean Hill, The World Is Large and Other Things You Thought You Knew
David Gessner, A Still Hopeful Geography
Joe Wilkins, New Names
Lawrence Lenhart, Dear Milo
B. J. Hollars, Geography Lessons
Sandra Alcosser, Begin Again
Cherene Sherrard, Driftless
Arthur Sze, Bridge
Tim McNulty, The Elwha: A River and a Vision Restored
Jeremy Voigt, Dear Dulce
Elizabeth Bradfield, January 8, 2017, Antarctica
Camille T. Dungy, Diversity: A Garden Allegory
Pam Houston, Hell Bent On

Togethering
Deborah Fries, November 2016, a View from the National Zoo
John Lane, High-Dollar Papayas
Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Unfold Your Love
Amy P. Knight, Thoughts from an Empty Courtroom Following the Hung Jury of a Man Tried for Harboring Migrants
Steven and Sophie Church, Letter to the Future President
Scott Russell Sanders, Defying Hatred
Elizabeth Rush, Dear Soon-to-Be-Sprout
Kimiko Hahn, The Augury
Catherine Venable Moore, July Fourth
Katrina Goldsaito, Dear Katrina
Rick Bass, Dinner with America

In alphabetical order, the renowned artists and thinkers in this collection are Seth Abramson, Sandra Alcosser, José Angel Araguz, Diana Babineau, Ellen Bass, Rick Bass, Anne P. Beatty, Sherwin Bitsui, Todd Boss, Elizabeth Bradfield, Michael P. Branch, Traci Brimhall, Taylor Brorby, Jericho Brown, Simmons Buntin, Francisco Cantú, Rob Carney, Jacob Carter, Jennifer Case, Joy Castro, Kurt Caswell, Victoria Chang, Sophie and Steven Church, Miriam Marty Clark, Andrea Cohen, Todd Davis, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Anita Desikan, Elizabeth Dodd, Chris Dombrowski, Camille T. Dungy, Rhina P. Espaillat, Tarfia Faizullah, Blas Falconer, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Deborah Fries, Suzanne Frischkorn, Amanda Gailey, John Gallaher, Allen Gee, David Gessner, Katrina Goldsaito, Vince Gotera, Kimiko Hahn, Patri Hadad, Amanda Hawkins, Allison Hedge Coke, Dennis Held, David Hernandez, Lee Herrick, Sean Hill, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Jen Hirt, Linda Hogan, B.J. Hollars, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Pam Houston, Barbara Hurd, Sarah Inskeep, Fenton Johnson, Ever Jones, Richard Kenney, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Amy P. Knight, Brian Laidlaw, John Lane, J. Drew Lanham, Karen An-hwei Lee, Lawrence Lenhart, Diana Liverman, Erin Malone, Debra Marquart, Tod Marshall, Anne Haven McDonnell, Colleen McElroy, Rose McLarney, Gregory McNamee, Tim McNulty, Sandra Meek, Christopher Merrill, Kathryn Miles, Scott Minar, Catherine Venable Moore, Kathleen Dean Moore, Juan Morales, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Naomi Shihab Nye, Elena Passarello, Georgia Pearle, John T. Price, Dean Rader, Yelizaveta P. Renfro, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Elizabeth Rush, Heather Ryan, Scott Russell Sanders, Lauret Savoy, Derek Sheffield, Cherene Sherrard, Peggy Shumaker, Martha Silano, Sarah Skeen, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Jasmine Elizabeth Smith, R.T. Smith, Dana Sonnenschein, Gary Soto, Pete Souza, Ana Maria Spagna, Kim Stafford, Catherine Staples, Sandra Steingraber, Laura-Gray Street, Arthur Sze, Alexandra Teague, Deborah Thompson, Jeremy Voigt, Nicole Walker, Scott Warren, Debbie Weingarten, Ellen Welti, Lesley Wheeler, Joe Wilkins, Christian Wiman, Sholeh Wolpé, Robert Wrigley, and Andrew S. Yang.

Learn more about Dear America and view events and online resources such as lesson plans, discussion topics, and interviews and readings.

* If you are interested in teaching the book, it will be available prior to Earth Day. Please contact us.

 

Header photo by Delpixel, courtesy Shutterstock.

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