The best contemporary nature poetry books

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Bri Bruce, writing as B. L. Bruce, and am an award-winning poet and Pushcart prize nominee from California. Over the last decade and a half, my work has appeared in dozens of literary publications. I am the author of four books and Editor-in-Chief of nature-centric magazine Humana Obscura. I was raised with a wildlife biologist/avid gardener for a mother and a forestry major/backpacker/fisherman as a father. Both my parents instilled in me at a young age a love of nature. A lifetime spent outdoors inspires my work—so much so that I’ve been called a “poetic naturalist” and the “heiress of Mary Oliver.”

I wrote...

The Weight of Snow: New & Selected Poems

By B.L. Bruce,

Book cover of The Weight of Snow: New & Selected Poems

What is my book about?

In The Weight of Snow, author B. L. Bruce explores the many plights of the human species, from the mysteries of the heart and the inescapability of death to the depths of human emotion. Told from the perspective of a poetic naturalist, Bruce shares her appreciation of the wild, illuminating the profound in the mundane while chronicling the natural world as both an observer and as an irrefutable part of it. Her poems focus strongly on image and locality, conjuring the imaginations of readers and celebrating the beauty in the follies of the human condition and its capacity to grip the soul.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

B.L. Bruce Why did I love this book?

Devotions is a comprehensive anthology of Mary Oliver’s best work. Oliver is without a doubt the gold standard in nature poetry, and one of the most renowned authors of the genre. It reminds me of all the reasons why she is and will always be my favorite poet, and one of the best poets of the last century. If anyone feels themselves drawn to nature poetry, this book is a must-read.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devotions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller, chosen as Oprah's "Books That Help Me Through" for Oprah's Book Club

"No matter where one starts reading, Devotions offers much to love, from Oliver's exuberant dog poems to selections from the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive, and Dream Work, one of her exceptional collections. Perhaps more important, the luminous writing provides respite from our crazy world and demonstrates how mindfulness can define and transform a life, moment by moment, poem by poem." -The Washington Post

"It's as if the poet herself has sidled beside the reader and pointed us to the poems she considers most…

Book cover of Book of Haikus

B.L. Bruce Why did I love this book?

While Jack Kerouac can arguably be synonymous with the Beat generation, the poems in this collection reveal a lesser-known and seldom seen but poignant side of Kerouac’s legacy. He distills his surroundings into short vignettes, reminiscent of the Beat style and motif, but incorporates a significant amount of nature imagery. They’re beautiful glimpses of the world through the eyes of one of America’s most influential authors.

By Jack Kerouac,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Book of Haikus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Above all, a haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi pastorella.' Jack Kerouac. Renowned for his groundbreaking Beat Generation novel "On the Road", Jack Kerouac was also a master of the haiku, the three-line, seventeen-syllable Japanese poetic form. Following in the tradition of Basho, Buson, Shiki, Issa, and other poets, Kerouac experimented with this centuries-old genre, taking it beyond strict syllable counts into what he believed was the form's essence. He incorporated his 'American' haiku in novels and in his correspondence,…

Book cover of No Other Life

B.L. Bruce Why did I love this book?

No Other Life combines three of Gary Young’s books into one volume. There is such unique style and quiet beauty to Young’s work. I am truly inspired by it. He has a knack for capturing the extraordinary in the mundane in brief but deep prose poems that grip the soul. 

Young was one of my professors in college and was a driving force for why I pursued a creative writing degree and chose to continue to write after graduating. His work will always hold a special place in my nature-loving creative heart.

By Gary Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Other Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No Other Life gathers in a single volume two earlier books by Gary Young, Days and the award-winning Braver Deeds, with the final book in his trilogy, If He Had. Utilizing a radically brief prose poem that in its spare lucidity leaves after images burned into the readers imagination, Young weaves a pattern of compelling and often harrowing correspondences that Ethan Paquin described in Quarterly West as an exploration of thresholds, of levels of human endurance. Although every poem stands as an independent utterance, each book suggests a discrete poetic unit, and the entire trilogy can be read as a…

Book cover of Washing the Stones: Selected Poems, 1975-1995

B.L. Bruce Why did I love this book?

This volume of selected poems and unpublished works spoke to me during a time when I was finding my voice, and was formative during my early years as a poet. While not heavily embedded in the nature genre, the author on occasion writes her observations of the natural world with strong imagery. The author is also from my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, and left her mark on the poetry community. Her poems are powerful but accessible and written in simple language, which I feel makes for the best kind of poetry.

By Maude Meehan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Washing the Stones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Collection of selected poems, 1975-1995.

California poet and activist, Maude Meehan speaks eloquently. Washing the Stones resonates with compassion and a strong spirit. This stunning collection spans twenty years of work from Chipping Bone and Befoe the Snow, plus new, never-before-published poems

Book cover of Halfway to Silence: New Poems

B.L. Bruce Why did I love this book?

The majority of Sarton’s work is introspective, giving glimpses into a writer’s creative process, a passion for writing, and one’s observations and emotions. This short collection of Sarton’s poems embodies her work as a nature poet without being overwhelmingly so. It’s a great introduction to her work. For a brief time in my life isolated myself for a month in a small cabin in a remote forest to do nothing but write. I read May Sarton and it was as if my experience paralleled her and my struggles validated by her work.

By May Sarton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Halfway to Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When they do, the must be treasured as gifts from the White Goddess, "sister of the mirage and echo." To May Sarton, poetry was life's deepest creative passion. It reflected the preoccupations of her mind and emotions as she progressed through more than five decades of experiencing the natural world, love and friendship, and the crises of the times. But for a long while she felt the lyric mood was past. Then, abruptly, her life took a new turn, and a marvelously musical flow of short poems came from her pen. They are collected here, in this small volume.

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Split Decision

By David Perlmutter,

Book cover of Split Decision

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

What is my book about?

Jefferson Ball, the mightiest female dog in a universe of the same, is, despite her anti-heroic behavior, intent on keeping her legacy as an athlete and adventurer intact. So, when female teenage robot Jody Ryder inadvertently angers her by smashing her high school records, Jefferson is intent on proving her superiority by outmuscling the robot in a not-so-fair fight. Not wanting to seem like a coward, and eager to end her enemy's trash talking, Jody agrees.

However, they have been lured to fight each other by circumstances beyond their control. Which are intent on destroying them if they don't destroy each other in combat first...

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