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Reading Groups

Beyond Cli-Fi with Outlandish: Black and Indigenous Nature Lit with Benje Williams

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Four Sessions Wednesdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT January 10 to April 17, 2024

This group will take place in person and offsite at Outlandish, 722 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11238. The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount from our Bookstore.

Meeting Dates:
1/10, 2/7, 3/6, 4/17
In Person at Outlandish

This reading group is co-presented by Outlandish in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a store reconnecting people of color with the outdoors.

Nature and place have always played a central role in literature and in human lives. Recently, genres like climate fiction and nature writing have emerged and become more dominant. Despite the profound presence of the natural world in Black lives throughout time—in the American South, in our ancestral African lineage, in our roles as farmers and caretakers of the land—authors of color are not commonly associated with nature or place-based writing. And yet, there is a wealth of Black and Indigenous tradition and writing that centers the natural world as place and character.

In this four-session reading group, we will explore four of these seminal efforts (three novels and one memoir), while using each reading as inspiration for our own writing.

We will discuss craft decisions each piece incorporates and engage with prompts as we conclude each session with optional free writing.

Participants are expected to have read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston before the first session.

What to expect from this reading group: This will be a conversational and participant-driven learning environment. The hope is that participants will share openly and freely in order to learn from each other.

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Led by

  • benje williams

    Benje Williams

    Benje Williams

    Benje Williams grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the grandson of Southern sharecroppers and farmers.

    He studied business and African-American history at UC Berkeley before working as a consultant in New York, Kenya, South Africa, India, and Pakistan. He completed an MBA from Stanford and moved back to Pakistan to set up an education venture called Amal Academy.

    He ran Amal for seven years in Lahore and transitioned back to New York, where he co-founded Understory, a non-profit focused on forest restoration, and Outlandish, a hiking brand helping people reconnect with nature.

    He’s a Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication and has been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Longreads, Backpacker, Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. He’s working on his first novel and is represented by Mina Hamedi (Janklow & Nesbit).