Ray to speak at Friends event
March 20, 2009

Environmental activist and award-winning author Janisse Ray will be the featured speaker at a special gathering hosted by Friends of the LaGrange College Library on Thursday, April 23. The event includes dinner and starts at 6 p.m. in the Dickson Assembly Room of the College’s Mabry Gipson Student Center.

Ray burst on the literary scene in 1999 with “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood,” a memoir about growing up in her father’s junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of south Georgia. The book stands as a plea to protect and restore the pine flatwoods of the South, and it takes a hard look at family, mental illness, poverty and fundamentalist religion.

Called “ambitious and arresting” by the New York Times, “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” earned Ray an American Book Award, a Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing.

Published in 2003, Ray’s second book, “Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home,” describes what happens when she returns to the land of her childhood. Her third book, “Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land,” published in 2005, tells the story of the 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida.

In addition to her books, Ray writes poetry and fiction, and her essays have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Audubon, The Washington Post, Sierra and Oprah Magazine.

Ray is a frequent commentator for Vermont and Georgia public radio, and she has served as a visiting professor at Coastal Carolina University, a writer-in-residence at Keen College and Green Mountain College and as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.

“To have a Friends speaker who not only is a celebrated writer, but also is a champion of the environment is a special privilege,” said Ann Beason, president of the Friends of the LaGrange College Library. “Janisse Ray has a unique story that is entertaining, poignant and enlightening.”

The author lectures widely on nature, community, organic agriculture, native plants and sustainability. She is a founding board member of Altamaha Riverkeeper and is on the board of the Environmental Leadership Center of Warren Wilson College and Satilla Riverkeeper.

Ray attempts to live a simple, sustainable life with her husband, Raven Waters, on a family farm in southern Georgia.

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