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Book Review: Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California

Books for Women: Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California—A Book Review

I love poetry. From the time I was very young to this very moment, it has always been, and remains, my favorite form of the written word. When I heard about Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, edited by Lucille Lang Day and Ruth Nolan, I couldn’t wait to dive in. Who better to oversee the gathering of poems that speak most beautifully and movingly about a state’s landscape than women writers?

I’ll admit, I believe women have a special connection with Mother Earth. Perhaps it’s because we feel the pull of nature with our monthly cycle. Or maybe, simply knowing we have the power to create life—just like the earth itself does seasonally—gives us a unique empathy for her plight. There’s no denying, the Earth and those who love her, are in the midst of a very challenging and important fight.

That’s partially why Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California is our pick for one of the best books for women to read.

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Poetry with a Purpose

Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California is a timely read. At this very moment, protections created to save the environment are being stripped away by the greedy and the ignorant. This anthology works to move readers to see the breathtaking beauty and the life that is the California landscape through its poet’s eyes. If you fall in love with something as deeply as the poet who has written about it, how could you not be moved to protect it?

While Day and Nolan did a stunning job gathering poems with the ability to take even those who have never visited the state, to the most magical locations at the most intimate moments in time, the purpose behind the anthology doesn’t stop there. These two women intend on making a difference, as all profits from sales of Fire and Rain will be donated to environmental organizations.

Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California is an example of poetry with a purpose.

books for women, Book Review

Books for Women: A Review of Fire and Rain

Containing more than 250 poems by by 149 contributors including Ellen Bass, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Camille T. Dungy, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Rebecca Foust, Dana Gioia, Emily Grosholz, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, and Ursula K. Le Guin; Fire and Rain captures the rebellious California culture, which as California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia states in his forward, is rooted in the natural landscape. But more than that, you feel the community’s anti-establishment stance: it’s fearlessness in the face of a rising authoritarian government that cannot be counted on to protect the very land that has provided for its own success.

Clearly placing the state as the point of focus, the chapters are organized around places and habitats instead of writers. Cover to cover, readers are taken on a poetic road trip across the state of California and begin to see it as more than “just a place”. Fire & Rain brings the California landscape to life and reveals its immense diversity and its incredible historical and enduring value.  

When choosing what I consider to be the best books for women to read, I value a work that can be read again and again, revealing something new with each read. Fire and Rain will stay by your bedside and offer you some unexpected nugget of gold with each read. The poems will light a fire in you. And that’s exactly what they were meant to do.

Day and Nolan have compiled a call to action that comes from a chorus of voices urging the reader to see — truly see the beauty—and do something.

About the Editors

Lucille Lang Day grew up in California. She received a 2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award for her memoir Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Additionally, she has published ten poetry collections and chapbooks and has been published in a wide variety of papers and magazines. Find out more about Day here.

Ruth Nolan is a former wildland firefighter turned writer. A professor of creative writing at College of the Desert, Palm Desert, California, Nolan’s widely published work focuses on California Deserts. She has been the recipient of a Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Fellowship and a California Writers Residency Award. Find out more about Nolan here.


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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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