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Environmentalist, author to speak at Armstrong Atlantic
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Environmental activist and writer Janisse Ray will speak at AASU on April 11. - photo by Photo provided

Armstrong Atlantic State University announces the Leadership Lecture Series speaking event for spring 2013. Janisse Ray, writer and environmental activist, will give her lecture and reading, “Leading by Example: Sustainability and Our Future,” on April 11 at 6 p.m., at the Armstrong Center, 13040 Abercorn St. The event is free and open to the public.

Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She is on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency master of fine arts program and is a Woodrow Wilson visiting fellow. She holds a master of fine arts from the University of Montana and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine.

Ray’s first nonfiction book, the acclaimed “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” (Milkweed Editions, 1999), is a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast. Besides being a plea to protect and restore the pine flatwoods of the South, the book looks at family, mental illness, poverty and fundamentalist religion. Anne Raver of The New York Times said of Ray, “The forests of the South find their Rachel Carson.”

Ray’s second book, “Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home” (Milkweed, 2003), addresses rural community and her third, “Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land” (Chelsea Green, 2005), tells the story of a 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida. “Drifting into Darien,” a personal and natural history of the Altamaha River, was released in fall 2011, and her latest nonfiction work is on open-pollinated seeds, “The Seed Underground” (Chelsea Green). She is anthologized widely.

Ray has won the 2011 Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry, 1999 Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, the 2000 American Book Award, Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing and Southern Book Critics Circle Award in 2000. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read.

Ray has been visiting professor at Coastal Carolina University, scholar-in-residence at Florida Gulf Coast University and writer-in-residence at Keene State College and Green Mountain College. In 2003-04, she was the John and Renee Grisham writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi.

Ray lives on a farm in southern Georgia with her husband, Raven Waters. She is an organic gardener, seed saver, tender of farm animals and slow-food cook.

For those unable to attend the spring 2013 Armstrong Leadership Lecture, the talk will be broadcast live on Armstrong’s Ustream channel and archived for later viewing.