Eleven Poetry Anthologies Handpicked for Orion Readers


EACH MONTH, Orion’s poetry editor, Camille Dungy, and friends recommend poetry collections they think our readers might enjoy. This month we’re recommending a host of anthologies, and with them an opportunity to meet a diverse range of new and familiar poetic voices.




All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

One of the first pages of this collection of essays, poetry, and art asks, “Can you imagine/ trusting each other/ working together/ for our common home?” and the rest of the pages of the collections show just what such collective, intentional work can look like. Look for poems from the likes of Marge Piercy, Joy Harjo, Ada Limón, Ailish Hopper, Ellen Bass, Sharon Olds, Alice Walker, and Mary Oliver. (Random House)





Here: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman, with a forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This anthology draws together over 125 writers ages, six to eighty-six, representing many regions, races, and walks of life, all deeply aware of the acute climate crisis facing the world we all share. Part praise song, part elegy, this anthology is a call for collective action and includes a guide for activists written with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Look for poems by Gary Snyder, Anne Marie Macari, Fadhil Assultani, John Calderazzo, Natasha Sajé, Tishani Doshi, Kamau Brathwaite, Adam Zagajewski, Lorna Goodison, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Mary Ruefle, Jesús J. Barquet, and many more. (Copper Canyon Press)





Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, edited by Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan, with a foreword by Dana Gioia and introduction by Jack Foley

If you’ve been watching the news from the West and can’t quite figure out how the AQI there keeps topping out over 500, or why there are so many mudslides when there is also talk of drought, perhaps a poet’s view of California will help you understand what’s happening there, and how what’s happening affects the people, the animals, the plants, and the land. This gorgeous anthology is organized by region, to give a clear sense of what it is like to claim California as home in the midst of these perilous times. The 150 contributors to this anthology include Ursula K. Le Guin, David St. John, Jane Hirshfield, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Rebecca Foust, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Brenda Hillman, Ruth Bavetta, Jennifer K. Sweeney, Helen Wick, and Robert Hass. (Scarlet Tanager Books)





Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, edited by Melissa Tuckey, with a foreword by Camille T. Dungy

This collection draws voices from all over the world who think carefully and broadly about what eco-justice looks like in action. Poems here look at farming, war, water, resource extraction, resistance, resilience, resurgence, and more. It is one of the most comprehensive and compelling environmental poetry anthologies available today. Poets in these pages include Dorianne Laux, Purvi Shah, Patrick Rosal, Sam Hamill, Ruth Irupé Sanabria, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Mahmoud Darwish, Jiang Tai, Tim Seibles, Homero Aridijis, Pippa Little, Tara Betts, Monika Sok, Linda Hogan, and Ross Gay. (University of Georgia Press)





The Ecopoetry Anthology, edited by Laura-Gray Street and Ann Fisher-Wirth, with a foreword by Craig Santos Perez and introduction by Robert Hass

This re-release of the indispensable compendium of ecopoetry should be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. The anthology includes a historical arc that collects many of the key antecedents to the contemporary ecopoetry movement—including work by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Ezra Pound—as well as work by early foundational practitioners like Robert Hayden, Muriel Rukeyser, Phillip Levine, Audre Lorde, Theodore Roethke, and C.D. Wright. And there are also over 150 contemporary practitioners such as Juliana Spahr, Gerald Stern, Jonathan Skinner, Patricia Smith, Evie Shockley, Benjamin Alire Saénz, William Pitt Root, Ed Roberson, D. A. Powell, Janisse Ray, dg nanouk okpik, Harryette Mullen, Arthur Sze, Sheryl St. Germain, and Sandra Meek. (Trinity University Press)





Mourning Songs: Poems of Sorrow and Beauty, edited by Grace Schulman

While these poems are not all what we might think of as nature poems or ecopoems, several of the pieces collected here do take their cues from the greater than human world. As we enter a period of mourning— for the human losses suffered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the state of the planet around us, and for so much more— it may be helpful to have poems to turn to that put words to grief. This pocket-sized collection offers many gems. Look for poems by William Carols Williams, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ezra Pound, H.D. James Laughlin, May Swenson, and Bei Dao. (New Directions)





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

Expanding the definition of what constitutes nature writing beyond wild or pastoral, this iconic collection features 180 poems from 93 poets who together provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history. Black poets have been writing about the natural world from the very beginning, and here you’ll find classic giants like Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, and Richard Wright alongside more contemporary voices such as Major Jackson, Sean Hill, Natasha Trethewey, and Janice Harrington. (University of Georgia Press)





How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, foreword by Ross Gay

Readers looking for poetic antidotes to today’s chronic anxiety and frenetic news cycle might enjoy turning to this new and highly readable collection. Spend some time with joy and gratitude through deeply felt work from some of poetry’s most trusted voices including inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Joy Harjo, Tracy K. Smith, Ellen Bass, Ted Kooser, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jane Hirschfield, and others often featured in the pages of Orion. Interspersed with invitations to write and reflect, this book is designed for discussion and is classroom-ready. (Workman)





Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar, with a foreword by Carolyn Forché

While not billed as a nature poetry collection, this ambitious and ranging anthology celebrates the artistic and cultural forces flourishing today in the East, and frequently speaks to place, home, and the natural world. Originally envisioned as a response to 9/11 that imagined a future of words over violence, you can approach this brick of a book as a type of global journey. Look for the likes of famous contributors like Michael Ondaatje and Li-Young Lee next to a vast host of likely new-to-you work by South Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian poets as well as those living in the Diaspora. (W.W. Norton and Company)





New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid E. Erdrich 

Gathered here is a deep and ranging well of traditional, experimental, and political work from a new and original generation of Native poets. Collected work from Natalie Diaz, Jennifer Elise Foerster, Layli Long Soldier, dg nanouk okpik, Craig Santos Perez, Tommy Pico, and others make this book sing with a chorus of languages, styles, and powerful words. As Erdrich says in her introduction, together “these poems create a place, somewhere we could go.” (Graywolf Press)





Gigantic Cinema: A Weather Anthology, edited by Alice Oswald and Paul Keegan

This astonishing anthology enters as disruptively (and thrillingly) as a thunderstorm. In order to talk about the weather, the book’s editors have compiled 300 entries of considerable variety and scope. Poems, essay excerpts, short notes, weather rhymes, letters, stage directions, and the fevered final journal entries of dying writers combine to describe the weather of all seasons, dawn to dusk. You’ll find the work of Virginia Woolf, Flaubert, Coleridge, Thoreau, Bishop, King Charles II,  the Book of Job, John Yau, Bertolt Brecht, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, Ruskin, Ryszard Kapuściński, Joan Didion, and Hölderlin, but each entry in this book appears without no formal announcement. All titles are removed, and the author’s names are not at the heads of the poems but instead scrawled in small print along the bottom of the page, so that one narration runs into the next the way a hailstorm might show up in the midst of fair weather. (W. W. Norton & Company)


Want more poetry recommendations from Orion poetry editor Camille Dungy? Click here


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