Janisse Ray

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Janisse Ray
Born (1962-02-02) February 2, 1962 (age 57)
Baxley GA, USA
OccupationProfessor, environmental activist
EducationBA, Florida State, 1984; MFA, Montana, 1997
Notable worksEcology of a Cracker Childhood
Notable awardsAmerican Book Award, Southern Book Critics Circle Award, Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern environment

Janisse Ray (born 1962) is an American writer, naturalist and environmental activist. She was born on February 2 in Baxley, Georgia, the daughter of Franklin D. and Lee Ada Branch Ray. She attended North Georgia College, 1980–82; Florida State University, BA, 1984, and the University of Montana, MFA, 1997.

Her first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, recounts her experiences growing up in a junkyard, the daughter of a poor, white, fundamentalist Christian family. The book interweaves family history and memoir with natural history writing—specifically, descriptions of the ecology of the vanishing longleaf pine forests that once blanketed much of the South. The book won the American Book Award, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern environment. It also was chosen for the "All Georgia Reading the Same Book" project by the Georgia Center for the Book.

Ray's second book, Wild Card Quilt, recounts her experiences of moving back home to Georgia with her son after attending graduate school in Montana.

Her third book, Pinhook, tells the story of Pinhook Swamp, the land that connects the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Osceola National Forest in Florida

Her fourth book, Drifting into Darien, published in 2011, describes her experiences on and knowledge about the Altamaha River, which runs from middle Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean at Darien.

Ray published a book of poetry, A House of Branches, in 2010, and has been a contributor to Audubon, Orion and other magazines, as well as a commentator for NPR's Living on Earth. An environmental activist, she has campaigned on behalf of the Altamaha River and the Moody Swamp.

She teaches in the Chatham University Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

She has a son, Silas Ausable, who attended the University of Massachusetts. As a student there he studied landscape architecture.


  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, memoir (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2000).
  • Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, memoir (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2003).
  • Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf, (Co-editor, with Susan Cerulean and Laura Newtown) nonfiction (Tallahassee: Heart of the Earth, 2004).
  • Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land,, nonfiction (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2005).
  • A House of Branches,, poetry (Nicholasville: Wind Publications, 2010).
  • Drifting into Darien: a Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River, nonfiction (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2011).
  • The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, nonfiction (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2012).


Source: Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2005.

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