Yosemite at sunrise

Dear America

Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy

Resources for Discussing and Teaching the Book, Plus Upcoming Events, Other Letters to America, Videos and Interviews, and More

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) is now available.

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.


Online Letters to America


Educational and Discussion Group Resources

Dear America is an ideal book to use in the classroom because it contains so many short, thought-provoking, and well-written pieces for students to read, discuss, and analyze. The writers use a range of rhetorical strategies to make their points. Most of the ideas in the links below are designed specifically for composition teachers, but they could also be adapted for a literature classroom, a creative writing classroomor a book club, particularly the talking points at the beginning:

If you are interested in teaching the book and have any questions, please contact us.


Readings, Videos, and Interviews with Contributors

November 10, 2020 | After the Election Reading and Discussion hosted by Seattle’s Elliott Bay Books and featuring Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Cherene Sherrard, and Alison Hawthorne Deming, as well as Dear America editors Simmons Buntin, Derek Sheffield, and Elizabeth Dodd.

October 19, 2020 | Dear America Town Hall featuring Sherwin Bitsui (in absentia), Fenton Johnson, Debra Marquart, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil; moderated by Terrain.org editor-in-chief Simmons Buntin.

September 23, 2020 | Dear America Virtual Town Hall featuring David Gessner, Victoria Chang, Chris Dombrowski, Ana Maria Spagna, and Jeffrey Foucault; moderated by Terrain.org poetry editor Derek Sheffield

August 19, 2020 | Dear America Virtual Town Hall featuring Camille T. Dungy, Allison Hedge Coke, Todd Boss, and Heather Ryan; moderated by Terrain.org nonfiction editor Elizabeth Dodd

July 22, 2020 | Dear America Virtual Town Hall featuring Sandra Steingraber, Francisco Cantú, Diana Babineau, and Dean Rader; moderated by Terrain.org editor-in-chief Simmons Buntin

June 24, 2020 | Dear America Virtual Town Hall featuring Jane Hirshfield, J. Drew Lanham, Kurt Caswell, and Blas Falconer; moderated by Terrain.org poetry editor Derek Sheffield

May 20, 2020 | Dear America Virtual Town Hall featuring Pam Houston, Elena Passarello, Elizabeth Bradfield, and Arthur Sze; moderated by Terrain.org nonfiction editor Elizabeth Dodd

April 22, 2020 (50th Anniversary of Earth Day) | Dear America Book Launch and Virtual Town Hall featuring Alison Hawthorne Deming, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Ellen Bass, and Naomi Shihab Nye; moderated by Terrain.org editor-in-chief Simmons Buntin

Jeffrey Foucault Sings “Hurricane Lamp,” his Letter to America

J. Drew Lanham Reads “Still Birding While Black,” His Letter to America

Jane Hirshfield Reads “Spell To Be Said Against Hatred,” Her Letter to America, Taking on Even More Significance in the Recent Death of George Floyd

Blas Falconer Reads “Fatherland,” His Letter to America


Upcoming Events

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Table of Contents

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

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