Books & Essays
Tracking Desire: A Journey After Swallow-Tailed Kites
University of Georgia Press 2006
Book Review #1:
"One can search the breadth of North America, the tropics, and beyond seeking birds, and never find any species more spectacular than the swallow-tailed kite. Returned to Florida after a decade and a half in the West, I am now privileged to see swallow-tailed kites on an almost daily basis during their breeding season?even in my own backyard! I can only hope this experience will continue. Susan Cerulean has captured the essence of this most graceful of birds in Tracking Desire, a beautifully written and intensely personal testimony to reawakened wonder and wildness. Let us hope this book will stimulate redoubled efforts to protect and restore this vanishing, feathered treasure."
?Reed F. Noss, author of Saving Nature?s Legacy
Book Review #2:
"Here is a book as lovely as the bird it follows: a pleasure from beginning to end. Even more so, Tracking Desire is a vivid, embodied, unflinching look at the consequences of our lives and a prayer for the emancipation of the human spirit. The pages contain so much?a kind of translation of the holy, as if embroidered with gold thread?that I expect them to go flying off into their own heavens. Here is modern mythology, beautifully written. With this work, Susan Cerulean takes her well-earned place among the country's beloved nature writers."
?Janisse Ray, author of Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home
Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf
(edited volume) Heart of the Earth 2004
Elemental South: An Anthology of Southern Nature Writing
(edited volume) University of Georgia Press 2004
Susan Cerulean contributed the essays "Origin Moment" and "Writing the Birds."
Nature writers know that to be fully human is to be engaged with our natural surroundings. Elemental South is a gathering of works by some of the region?s best nature writers?people who can coax from words the mysteries of our place in the landscape and the human relationship to wildness.
Arranged by theme according to the basic elements by which many cultures on earth interpret?earth, air, fire, water?the writings consider our actual and assumed connections in the greater scheme of functioning ecosystems. As we read of bears, ancient magnolias, swallow-tail kites, the serenity of a country childhood, the pleasure of eating real food, the remarkable provenance of ancient pottery shards, and much more, these works lure us deep into the southern landscape, away from the constructs of humanity and closer to a recognition of our inextricable ties to the earth.
The writers are all participants in the Southern Nature Project, an ongoing endeavor founded on the conviction that writing like the kind gathered here can help us to lead more human, profound, and courageous lives in terms of how we use our earth. Some of the featured writers are originally from the South, and others migrated here?but all have honed their voices on the region?s distinctive landscapes.
Book Review #1:
"Provides a chorus of voices that blend harmoniously despite their different geographies, backgrounds, and styles. By tracing the fault lines and fractures of southern landscapes, society, and spirit, this anthology helps the South begin to heal stronger in the broken places."
?Will Harlan, editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors
Book Review #2:
"Published 150 years after Thoreau's book, it is another Walden. I shall urge each of my grandchildren to read it." Southeastern Geographer, November 2006
Book Review #3:
"This lush collection of works by members of Southern Nature Project showcases the idiosyncratic impact of our region?s natural surroundings on its writers, arguably a stronger influence than the predictable Southern Gothic theme of family secrets."
Book Review #4:
"If you like to curl up with a good book on cold winter days and you also love the outdoors, read Elemental South. Each leads us to broader truths through careful observations of our natural surroundings."
Book Review #5:
"Contains poetry and prose that is deeply philosophical, richly textured, arresting."
The Book of the Everglades
Milkweed Editions 2002
The Woods Stretched for Miles: New Nature Writing from the South
University of Georgia Press 1999
The Woods Stretched for Miles gathers essays about southern landscape and nature from nineteen writers with geographic or ancestral ties to the region. Susan Cerulean's chapter is entitled "Searching for Swallow-tails."
From the savannas of south Florida through the hardwood uplands of Mississippi to the coastal rivers of the Carolinas and the high mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, the range in geography covered is equally broad. With insight and eloquence, these diverse talents take up similar themes: environmental restoration, the interplay between individual and community, the definition of wildness in an area transformed by human activity, and the meaning of our reactions to the natural world.
Readers will treasure the passionate and intelligent honorings of land and nature offered by this rich anthology. With the publication of The Woods Stretched for Miles, southern voices establish their abiding place in the ever-popular nature writing genre.
Book Review #1:
"This is an important book?the first of its kind exclusively on the Southeast. It should appeal to general readers who wish to read about the genre in the Southeast, about the long and complex relationship between American culture and nature, and also about controversial environmental issues in the region."
?John Murray, editor of American Nature Writing
Book Review #2:
"I am delighted with the very concept of this anthology of Southern nature writing. There are dozens and dozens of recent scholarly books on environmental literature and anthologies of nonfiction nature writing, nature poetry, and environmental writing in general, including a number of regionally oriented collections. But, so far, other than Molly Westling's ecocritical studies of Southern fiction, few of these recent publications are explicitly devoted to Southern environmental literature. For this reason, there is a significant void that the The Woods Stretched for Miles is intended to fill?and I think it fills the void quite well."
?Scott Slovic, author of Being in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers