Practices of Hope Reading Series

Join us at 7 pm ET the second Friday of every month on our YouTube Channel for a new slate of writers/artists! PRACTICES OF HOPE showcases creative processes as ways of making change. The artists and writers in this series ask: How can creative practice allow us to feel and act differently? How can we invent new collaborations and new embodiment practices for humans and other fellow creatures? What can speculative or non-realist forms mean for eco-arts? How can we imagine a different future with more of us in it? What hope can we afford? What hope do we need? Together, we reach for art that activates new relationships to embodiment, racial justice, climate crisis, species extinction, and environmentally located social pressures. We invite you to come to these readings/artist talks/sharings the second Friday of every month and catch glimpses of hope in hard times. 75 minutes, including time for Q+A.

Readings Series and “Practices of Hope” issue of About Place Journal edited by Petra Kuppers, DJ Lee, Catherine Fairfield, and Rachel Sanchez.

Reading Series sponsored by Black Earth Institute: re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth, and society

Access Notes: The links in the running order below go to the relevant texts, for reading along.

Friday, June 12, 7 pm ET featured readers YouTube Live

practices of hope readers

Margaret Noodin (poem) “Gimeme’igonaan omaa / This place is our lullaby
Corey Pressman (prose) “Consider the Cricket
Sydney Epps (poem): “Nina Taught Me”
Denise Leto (poem) “Tend the Water With Them
Jillian McDonald (video) “The Dark Season
darlene anita scott (poem) “Making Soap
Lesley Wheeler (poem) “We Could Be
Megan Kaminski and L. Ann Wheeler (art) “Pussy Toes
Jennifer Sinor (prose) “Memories of the Future


Margaret Noodin is an Anishinaabe poet and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature and two collections of bilingual poems in Ojibwe and English, Weweni and Gijigijigaaneshiinh Gikendan: What the Chickadee Knows. She writes in Anishinaabemowin as an act of resilience and revitalization. Her poems are centered in the worldview indigenous to the Great Lakes. To see and hear current projects visit where she and other students and speakers of Ojibwe have created a space for language to be shared by academics and the native community.

Corey S. Pressman is an artist, writer, and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. Corey has published poetry, stories, and academic works. As Fellow of Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, Corey has developed and taught coursework in science fiction prototyping. His solar-punk story “Divided Light” appears in ASU Press’ popular solar futures short story collection The Weight of Light.

Sydney Epps has a PhD in Higher Education Administration and Women’s and Gender Studies from Louisiana State University. A native of Philadelphia, Epps focuses their research on LGBTQ history, Greek life, and biopolitics. Epps is an assistant in the Graduate Admissions Department and instructor within the School of Education. Epps has a long record of providing Louisiana State University and past institutions with programming focused on providing insight into underrepresented communities’ most pertinent issues. Their dissertation details the experiences transgender members of Greek letter organizations have after transitioning.

Denise Leto is a multidisciplinary poet, writer, editor, dance dramaturge and visiting artist. Recently, she collaborated on the performance Bluets #1-40 at the University of Santa Cruz. Her current collaboration is an ecopoetic exploration of the San Francisco Bay entitled “Baylands Poetry Project.” Fellowships and residencies include: the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Sicily Breadloaf Poetry Fellowship, and the Queer Sugarloaf Art Residency. She is also an awardee of the Orlando Poetry Price. Denise wrote the poetry book for Your Body is Not a Shark exploring feminist embodiment, dance, voice, and disability poetics. Poems are forthcoming in Rogue Agent and Quarterly West.

Jillian McDonald is a Canadian artist in Brooklyn. Her work in video and drawing is inspired by horror film, and imagined relationships with unlikely celebrities. Many of her recent artworks star haunted figures and places, and sometimes feature casts of local actors. Solo shows include the Esker Foundation in Calgary, Lilith Performance Studio in Sweden, Air Circulation in New York, and Centre Clark in Montréal. Group exhibitions were held at FiveMyles in Brooklyn, The Edith Russ Haus for Media Art in Germany, The International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Venezuela, and The New Media Gallery in British Columbia. A CBC radio documentary profiles her work, which was also reviewed in The New York Times and Canadian Art and The Transatlantic Zombie by Sarah Juliet Lauro. McDonald received grants from The New York Foundation for the Arts and The Canada Council for the Arts and regularly attends residencies in Scotland, California, Sweden, Norway, New York, and Canada.

darlene anita scott is a poet and visual artist. Her poetry appears most recently in Rock! Paper! Scissors!, Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Stonecoast Review, and Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (Routledge), a volume she co-edited with Drs. Emily Ruth Rutter, Sequoia Maner, and the late Dr. Tiffany Austin. scott’s art has appeared most recently in Barren Magazine, Auburn Avenue, and The Journal. scott lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Lesley Wheeler’s new books are The State She’s In, her fifth poetry collection, and Unbecoming, her first novel. The State She’s In homes in on the poisoned gorgeousness of her home state, Virginia; as Diane Seuss writes, “Wheeler’s formal virtuosity wheels and sparks as she explores the impact of whiteness and sexism on the literal state—its history, its land, its educational institutions.” Wheeler’s poems and essays appear in such journals The Common, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry, Ecotone, and Massachusetts Review. She is Poetry Editor of Shenandoah and lives in Lexington, Virginia.

Megan Kaminski is the author of two books of poetry, Deep City (2015) and Desiring Map ; (2012), with a third book Gentlewomen, forthcoming from Noemi Press (September 2020). An Associate Professor of English and Co-Director of the Global Grasslands CoLABorative at the University of Kansas, she is also the founder and curator of the community-based Ad Astra Project. Her work focuses on connecting to our shared ecosystem as a source of knowledge and inspiration for strategies to live in their world, to grieve and heal after loss, and to re-align thinking towards kinship, community, and sustainability.

L. Ann Wheeler is a writer, artist, and teacher in Los Angeles. She holds degrees in creative writing from the Pratt Institute and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Omniverse, Bone Bouquet, Entropy, ILK, among others. She’s taught elementary school on Coney Island, college writing in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, and high school in California. Abandoners (Operating System, 2018) is her first book.

Jennifer Sinor is the author of several books, including Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe and the memoir Ordinary Trauma. Her forthcoming essay collection, Sky Songs, will appear in the fall of 2020 from the University of Nebraska Press. The recipient of the Stipend in American Modernism as well as nominations for the National Magazine Award and the Pushcart Prize, Jennifer teaches creative writing at Utah State University where she is a professor of English. She lives in Logan with her husband, poet Michael Sowder, and her two sons.

Friday, July 10 featured readers YouTube Live

Sankara Olama-Yai (poem) “Afro-Futurism as Rebirth
Lorna Rose (short prose) “Thumb as Utility
Catherine Young (poem) “Women Tending
Nancy Lord (prose) “On the Dark Forest Road
Syrus Marcus Ware (installation) “Antarctica
Susanna Lang (poem) “But Then
Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland (prose) “Sunvaulting: Five Years on a Path toward a Literature of Environmental Resilience


Sankara “Le Prince Héritier” Olama-Yai is an emerging author with their first book Ebony Wings published by Vital Narrative, currently out. They are interested in the perpetually fluid and expanding landscape of poetry as an innovative space for beauty, particularly as it pertains to the artistic endeavors of artists of colour. Sankara is an LGBTQ+, African American student who currently studies at Penn State. They are a reader for Frontier Poetry. Their poems have previously been published by Weasel press, InSpiritry and Military Review; they have had work accepted by 805 lit and won Scholastic Art&Writing awards for their poetry.

Lorna Rose is a Pacific Northwest poet and narrative nonfiction writer. Her work has been recognized by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Oregon Poets Association, and appears in About Place Journal, Jellyfish Review, 34th Parallel Magazine, and elsewhere. A finalist for the Fishtrap Fellowship in 2020, she is a regular contributor to The Good Men Project. Lorna is an AmeriCorps alum, and her memoir in progress is set in rural Alaska, where she served on a trail crew. The piece which appears here in an excerpt from it.

Catherine Young’s writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best American Essays. She worked as a national park ranger, farmer, mother, and educator. Her ecopoetry and prose is published in journals nationally and internationally including Cold MountainAscentMinding Nature, and in the anthology Contours. Rooted in farm life, Catherine lives with her family in Wisconsin.

Nancy Lord, a former Alaska State Writer Laureate (2008-2010), is the author of three short story collections, five books of literary nonfiction including Beluga DaysTracking a White Whale’s Truths and Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-changed North, and the 2017 novel pH. She also edited the anthology Made of Salmon. Her work, which focuses mainly on environmental and marine issues, has appeared widely in journals and anthologies and has been honored with fellowships and awards. She teaches science writing for Johns Hopkins University and is a regular book reviewer for the Anchorage Daily News

Syrus Marcus Ware (born in Montreal, QC, Canada; lives in Toronto, ON, Canada) is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator, and educator. He uses painting, installation, and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture, and has shown widely in galleries and festivals across Canada. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. He has won several recognitions including the TD Arts Diversity Award (2017), Steinert & Ferreiro Award (2012), and “Best Queer Activist” from NOW Magazine (2005).

Susanna Lang’s third collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was released in 2017 from Terrapin Books. Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2020, Self-Portraits (Blue Lyra Press) and Dear Girls (dancing girl press).  Much of her work is rooted in her walks along the Chicago River and her appreciation of our fragile earth. A two-time Hambidge fellow, her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Prairie Schooner, december, New Poetry in Translation, The Literary Review, American Life in Poetry and The Slowdown.  She lives and teaches in Chicago. 

Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland met in an MFA program, and their collaboration began with Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation, which was recognized in The Year’s Best Science FictionThe Best Science Fiction of the YearSierra: The National Magazine of the Sierra ClubLA Review of Books, and other publications. Like all good collaborators, Brontë and Phoebe ended up stuck together on presentations, prairie restoration projects, protests, road trips, potlucks, and Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Currently, Phoebe is a PhD student, studying environmental literature at University of Nevada, Reno while Brontë attempts to balance independent scholarship and creative writing. Their next collaboration, Almanac for the Anthropocene: A Compendium of Solarpunk Futures, is upcoming from West Virginia University Press.

Friday, August 14 featured readers YouTube Live

Jose Oseguera (poem) “The Road
Marjorie Maddox (poem/image by Greg Mort) “At the American Visionary Art Museum: Return to the Moon
Vikram Ramakrishnan (short prose) “A Crack in the Ground that Went to the Other Side of the Earth
Megan Culhane Galbraith (video) “A Lover’s Discourse
Rebecca Ellis (poem) “Past Life Flyover
Carrie Albert (art) “Blue Box
James B. Wells (prose) “Resurrecting My Father and Me
Pamela Uschuk (poem) “Learning to Handbuild Micaceous Pueblo Pots
Jay Hansford Vest (flash prose) “There Are Jaguars Along That Border


Jose Oseguera is an LA-based writer of poetry, short fiction and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a primarily immigrant, urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him, and the stories that each of these has to share. He has published over 100 pieces— poetry, short fiction and novellas— in a variety of literary journals. His poetry collection, The Milk of Your Blood, was released in February 2020. He’s currently working on his second novel, as well as his second poetry collection. 

Marjorie Maddox is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University. She has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation and Local News from Someplace Else; the story collection What She Was Saying; and 4 children’s books. Much of her teaching and writing focus on place, including the anthology Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor, PSU Press, 2005) and a companion course on Pennsylvania Authors; plans for a 20th anniversary edition of the anthology are in process. Marjorie continues to collaborate with environmental activist and photographer Karen Elias on exhibits, presentations, and writing projects, including their collection Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For. In this Practices of Hope issue, Marjorie responds to Greg Mort’s painting Return to the Moon. To learn more about the artist as well as his treatment of place, astronomy, and the universe—please see

Vikram Ramakrishnan is a Tamil-American writer and computer programmer who lives in New York City. He loves to write fiction about fantastic worlds imbued with South Asian elements, often ones that mirror our ecological state of Earth. When he’s not writing, he’s visiting arboretums with his Siberian Husky, Kratos. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in NewfoundSAND Journal, and AE–The Canadian Science Fiction Review.

Megan Culhane Galbraith is a writer and visual artist. Her work was listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2017 and has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Her work is forthcoming or has been published in Tupelo Quarterly, About Place JournalRedividerLongreads, Hotel Amerika, Catapult, and Monkeybicycle, among others. Her hybrid memoir-in-essays, “The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book,” is forthcoming from Mad Creek Books, Machete Series, in Spring 2021. She is the Associate Director at the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Rebecca Ellis lives in southern Illinois.  Her poems can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, Sugar MuleSweet, Prairie SchoonerAdanna, RHINO, and Crab Creek Review. She previously edited Cherry Pie Press, publishing poetry chapbooks by Midwestern women poets. She is a Master Naturalist through the University of Illinois Extension Service, interested in local waterfowl counts and in urban trees.

Carrie Albert is a multifaceted artist and poet who lives in Seattle. Her drawings, collage and poems are featured there at Four Corners Art. Her visual art and poems have been published and/or featured in many diverse journals, such as cahoodaloodaling, Grey Sparrow, Foliate Oak, Earth’s Daughters, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Gargoyle. More of her work can be viewed at Penhead Press online, where she is a Poet-Artist in Residence.

James B. Wells is a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He is on a quest to learn the truth about his father’s death, to attempt to find peace for him and his family, and to write about it. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at EKU’s Bluegrass Writing Studio. Recent essays from his in-progress memoir appear or are forthcoming in Collateral Journal, About Place Journal, Alternating Current Press, and Shift. His work has also recently been nominated for the Charter Oak Award for Best Historical.

Pam Uschuk has howled out six poetry collections, including CRAZY LOVE (American Book Award) and BLOOD FLOWER,2015 Book List Notable Book. Translated into a dozen languages, her work appears in 300+ journals and anthologies. Her awards include New Millenium Poetry Prize, Best of the Web, Struga International Prize for a theme poem, Dorothy Daniels Writing Award (National League of American PEN Women). Editor of CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, Uschuk also edited the anthology, Truth To Power: Writers Respond To The Rhetoric Of Hate And Fear, 2017. Uschuk was named a Black Earth Institute Fellow for 2018–2021.

Jay Hansford Vest is Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. A Native American, he is an enrolled member of the federally recognized Monacan Indian Nation and he is also a direct descendant of 17th century Pamunkey leader Opechancanough, who arrested Captain John Smith as a murder suspect in 1607.

Friday, September 11 featured readers YouTube Live

We are ending our series with an editor reading, with guests. DJ Lee and Petra Kuppers will read from their respective books, both of which appeared in March 2020 just at the beginning of the pandemic. Jacqueline Johnson, incoming editor for About Place’s next issue, will host this last event as a way of handing over the baton. She will also read from her work.

We will have two additional guests with interesting book-length takes on eco-poetic approaches to our world, Orchid Tierney and Cecil Giscombe.


Orchid Tierney is an Aotearoa-New Zealand poet and scholar, currently living in Gambier, Ohio, where she teaches at Kenyon College. She is the author of a year of misreading the wildcats (Operating System, 2019) and Earsay (TrollThread 2016), and chapbooks ocean plastic (BlazeVOX 2019), blue doors (Belladonna* Press), Gallipoli Diaries (GaussPDF 2017), the world in small parts (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), and Brachiaction (Gumtree, 2012). Other poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Jacket2Journal of Modern Literature, and Western Humanities Review, among others. She is a consulting editor for the Kenyon Review.

Cecil Giscombe is author of many books, including the forthcoming Similarly, four poetry volumes and a selection of new poems. Most recent books are Ohio Railroads (2014, a long poem in the form of an essay, including maps), Border Towns (2016, essays having to do with poetry) and Overlapping Apexes (2017, a long poem). Earlier books include Prairie Style (2008), the memoir Into and Out of Dislocation (2000), and Giscome Road (1998). Poetry and prose reprinted in Best American PoetryOxford Anthology of African American PoetryNorton Anthology of Postmodern American PoetryBluesprint: Black British Columbia Literature and Orature, and elsewhere. Poetry books in progress are “Negro Mountain” and “Train Music,” a collaboration with the painter and collagist Judith Margolis chronicling the cross-country train trip the two made together in 2017 and an inquiry into the social spaces of white supremacy. Giscombe has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fund for Poetry. His work earned the 2010 Stephen Henderson Award in Poetry and the 1998 Carl Sandburg Prize. He has taught at Cornell, Syracuse University, Illinois State University, Pennsylvania State University and currently is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Petra Kuppers is a community performance artist, a disability culture activist, and a writer. She is the author of the queer/crip speculative story collection Ice Bar (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her ecosomatic poetry collection Gut Botany appeared in March 2020 with the Made in Michigan series (Wayne State University Press). Other poetry collections include PearlStitch (Spuyten Duyvil 2016) and the chapbook Green Orion Woman (dancing girls, 2018). Her hybrid ecopoetic performance writings have appeared in P-Queue, Ecotone, TDR and more. She teaches in performance studies, disability studies, and creative methodologies at the University of Michigan and Goddard College, is a fellow of the Black Earth Institute, leads The Olimpias disability culture collective, and co-leads Turtle Disco, a small somatic writing studio in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her wife Stephanie Heit.

Ashley E. Lucas is Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama, the Residential College, the Penny Stamps School of Art & Design, and English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, where she also serves as the Former Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project. She and Jodie Lawston co-edited the book Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Scholars, Artists, and Activists(2011), and they co-founded a blog by the same name. Lucas wrote the play Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, which she has performed as a one-woman show since 2004.

DJ Lee’s nonfiction essays have appeared in NarrativeSilk Road ReviewVelaTerrain, and elsewhere, and they have been finalists for contests and won awards. She is author/editor of eight books, both scholarly and creative, on literature, women’s history, and the environment, including the oral history collection The Land Speaks (Oxford 2017), and her hybrid memoir Remote: Finding Home in the Bitterroots (Oregon State UP 2020). She is Regents Professor at Washington State University where she teaches literature and creative writing and co-directs the Visiting Writers Series. She is director of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project and is currently a scholar-advisor at The Black Earth Institute.

Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist creating in both poetry, fiction writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Woman’s Season, on Main Street Rag Press and A Gathering of Mother Tongues, published by White Pine Press, and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in: “Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era,” Routledge 2020, The Slow Down, American Public Media, October 16, 2019, and “Pank: Health and Healing Folio,” 2019. Works in progress include: “The Privilege of Memory,” “How to Stop a Hurricane,” a collection of short stories, and “This America,” a poetry collection. She is a graduate of New York University and the City University of New York. A native of Philadelphia, PA., she resides in Brooklyn, New York.

This series is supported and hosted by the Black Earth Institute: Re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth, and society.