Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden


Product Details

$28.99  $26.96
Simon & Schuster
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.2 X 1.3 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

CAMILLE T. DUNGY is the University Distinguished Professor in English at Colorado State University. She is the author of four collections of poetry, including Trophic Cascade, winner of the Colorado Book Award. Dungy currently serves as the poetry editor for Orion magazine. She is also coeditor of From the Fishouse, and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade. Dungy is the recipient of honors including the 2021 American Academy of Poets Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in both poetry and prose. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, more than forty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals.


"A heartfelt and thoroughly enchanting tribute to family and community. Dungy shows us how to tend a garden, and how to tend a full and fragrant life." --AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL, NYT Bestselling Author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

"The green of growing things calms me. Plants stabilize me," Camille Dungy writes in this brilliant and beautiful memoir of her deepening relationship with the earth that necessarily demands she consider questions of family, history, race, nation, and power. Soil demands we witness what erodes or frays or severs the stabilizing roots between us. Let us put our hands in and try to listen." -Ross Gay, NYT Bestselling Author of The Book of Delights

"Gardening, poetry, motherhood, history--dirty and beautiful, difficult and sublime, the agony of failure, the exhalation of a spring bloom. . . Dungy's poetic ear illuminates her language, whether listing botanical names or reflecting on the tumult of the 2020s. A significant, beautiful, meditative, and wholly down-to-earth memoir with high appeal for book groups and nature lovers."-BOOKLIST (Starred Review)

"Camille Dungy's SOIL is an instant classic. Provocative, beautifully written, and also wildly informative, this memoir cum manifesto asks us to contemplate our responsibility to our land - and each other. I felt transformed by this graceful and generous book." -Jami Attenberg, Author of I Came All This Way to Meet You

"With this book Dungy shows, by comparison, how unrooted so many of us are - ecologically, historically, and socially - and makes a poetic case that home is where you know the plants. This poignant, lovely work will make you want to nurture a garden, and all life." --Ayana Johnson, Co-founder, Urban Ocean Lab

"In Soil, Camille Dungy welcomes us into an abundant, intimate, unfurling space -- the exterior landscape of her garden and the interior landscape of her sapience. To dig in the dirt, we learn, is also to dig up and into history, identity, ecology, hope. Dungy shows, by example, how to honor the pain and the possibility of whatever fraught, holy ground we each call home. A deeply life-giving book." -Katharine Wilkinson, Executive Director of The All We Can Save Project

"Camille Dungy is one of the greatest American writers, period. And Soil is her finest work yet. In prose that is personal, political, urgent, and honest, Dungy lays bare the perils of homogeneity --in our gardens and in our communities--and offers powerful reminders of why diversity--that watered-down, defanged buzzword--matters. Soil is a delicate and resilient exploration of gardening, motherhood, memory, love, and what it means to thrive as a Black woman tending her garden, her family, and her career in a white supremacist ecosystem." -Kate Schatz, NYT-Bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Do the Work: An Antiracist Activity Book

"We are all of the soil. Whether clay, sand, loam or rocky till, each of us arises from it. Camille Dungy's Soil, is the new ground work for growing an illumination of our ties to to the precious earth lain under our feet. From what suffers to grow in her Rocky Mountain backyard, through sketches of Black folk's ties to seed, furrow, mule and hoe, she digs into our soul solum with an artfully conversational style, that's bound to a personal and conversational vulnerability, which firmly links everything important to us, to the fertility underfoot. Herein, Dungy winds Earth's care into human justice and wildness, then tends the story of connections to nature past, present and to come, upward around an awareness of how root, tendril, blossom, bird and bee, make us who we are. Camille is our perennial flower, bloomed again in Soil." -J. Drew Lanham, Author of The Home Place -- Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016)

"What an intoxicating book. Dungy's words smell of rot, roots, and blossoms. She brings proof that incantations for nature can come from a yard in a subdivision, and that a family can turn hard soil into life." -Craig Childs, Author of House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest