Bookshelf: ‘Wild Atlanta’ celebrates urban forests with poems, photos

Plus book events with Kwame Alexander, Mickey Dubrow, William Kent Krueger.
"Wild Atlanta" featuring poetry by Stephen Wing and photography by Luz Wright
Courtesy of Wind Eagle Press

Credit: Wind Eagle Press

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"Wild Atlanta" featuring poetry by Stephen Wing and photography by Luz Wright Courtesy of Wind Eagle Press

Credit: Wind Eagle Press

Credit: Wind Eagle Press

Ever since the pandemic prompted us to hole up in our homes for a year, a renewed enthusiasm for nature has loomed large in the zeitgeist. Perhaps it’s because being outdoors, socially distanced from others, was the only safe alternative to being inside our homes, the walls of which seemed to close in on us after a while. Or maybe being homebound for so long made us realize how much we took the great outdoors for granted. Either way, a lot of people I know who barely left their homes before the pandemic are suddenly avid hikers filling my social media feed with closeups of waterfalls, wildflowers and woodland creatures, to my delight.

So the timing couldn’t be better for “Wild Atlanta,” (Wind Eagle Press, $40), a coffee table book of nature-inspired poetry by Stephen Wing and photography by Luz Wright that celebrates Atlanta’s urban forests and pocket parks. The independently published book received funding from an artist grant from the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.

Wing’s poems are the product of a decade of his “Earth Poetry” workshops, outings he hosts in urban forests around town for poets, both experienced and aspiring. The book opens appropriately with “The Hospitality of Trees,” a poem that captures the experience of leaving civilization behind and stepping into the wilderness.

“A living breeze begins to stir inside your chest. / Each tree speaks to you in its own voice as you wander / under the high branches, gazing up and around, / listening through the hush.”

Wright’s lush photographs of the sites Wing writes about provide the perfect accompaniment. Oakhurst Community Garden, Arabia Mountain, Chattahoochee River, Constitution Lakes Park and Blue Heron Nature Preserve are among the green spaces they visit.

The book is only available through and five local independent book stores, including Tall Tales in Toco Hill, Eagle Eye and Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Bookmiser in Marietta and That Crazy Book Lady in Acworth.

A book launch event will be held 3 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at A Cappella Books in Atlanta.

Credit: Little, Brown and Company

Credit: Little, Brown and Company

Softer side of dad. Kwame Alexander has built a career writing bestselling books for children and middle-grade readers. He’s best-known for the Newbery Award and Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel-in-verse, “The Crossover,” about 12-year-old twin basketball players Josh and Jordan, which is now a series streaming on Disney+.

Just in time for Father’s Day, Alexander has released a book for adults. “Why Fathers Cry at Night” (Little, Brown and Company, $28) is an unorthodox memoir that combines essays, letters, poems and recipes to chart his journey to fatherhood. Along the way he navigates the death of his mother, the end of a marriage, an empty nest and falling in love again. In the midst of all that, he tosses in recipes for 7Up cake, hot buttered rolls and other down-home delicacies. It’s a great Father’s Day gift for the dad who’s in touch with his vulnerable side — or perhaps the father who needs to be.

Alexander will be in conversation with author Victoria Christopher Murray at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Inman Park Chapel. For tickets go to

Credit: Brother Mockingbird

Credit: Brother Mockingbird

Back to the future. In Atlanta author Mickey Dubrow’s twisty independent sci-fi novel “Always Agnes” (Brother Mockingbird, $18.99), Agnes Cook is preparing to share her time travel machine with the world when her mother kills herself. Convinced her mother would have been happier and not taken her life if she had never had Agnes, she travels back in time and stops her own conception. But when Agnes returns to the future, she realizes her mother got impregnated by someone else that same night and had a different daughter named Agnes. Complications ensue.

Dubrow will be in conversation with Nicki Salcedo at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Waller’s Coffee Shop. For details go to

Drumroll, please. Roswell Reads, in partnership with Roswell Cultural Arts and Bookmiser, has announced its 2023 book selection: “The River We Remember” (Atria, $28.99) by William Kent Krueger. He is the bestselling author of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, but in this standalone novel, Sheriff Brody Dern is tasked with solving the murder of rich landowner Jimmy Quinn in 1958 Minnesota.

Krueger will discuss the book at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, and he’ll lead a writing workshop at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Roswell Adult Recreation Center. The book goes on sale Sept. 5, but tickets are on sale now. For details go to

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She can be contacted at

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