Rewilding: Call for Submissions

Issue Editor: Tammy Melody Gomez
Assistant Issue Editors: Mayra Guardiola & Priscilla Ybarra

Open for submissions on January 1, 2018
All submissions are due by March 1, 2018


Rewilding: Recovery, Remembrances, and Reconnection with the Ancestral Wild

Herds of grazing buffalo help restore prairie grasses, and packs of hunting wolves bring glory back to Yellowstone National Park’s riverside willows, which in turn increase the beaver and elk populations. Each is an example of “rewilding.” Rewilding occurs when conservationists reintroduce native species and keystone animals to help a place achieve its peak ecological function.

The word “rewilding” can conjure romantic visions of charismatic species coexisting in a beautifully restored landscape, at the same time that its reference to wilderness can invoke violent images of colonial encounter and exploitation. Still, the term carries power and fuels many conservationist and creative agendas. This issue of About Place seeks to interrogate and challenge this term as well as engage with its seductive power.

Is it also possible for humans to rewild themselves? What would this look like? When humans deny themselves or are restricted from opportunities for deep immersion in nature, or access to their ancestral places, what has been lost? Journalist Richard Louv has suggested that this deprivation is a “nature-deficit disorder” that afflicts many humans—particularly those of us dwelling in urban, high-tech surroundings or housing projects planted on landscapes of pavement under orange glowing lights that so obscure the night sky that we might come to think of the stars and the planets as rumored bodies floating somewhere up above.

For some of us trying to get “back to the garden,” this rewilding may look like resistance. Urban families who seed unsanctioned gardens in vacant lots are often reviled by developers and city leaders, who respond with bulldozers and concrete mixers. When Latinx neighbors install backyard chicken coops, the HOA squawks about it, but when white hipsters make it cool, restrictive city ordinances are rescinded. Houston politicians have tried to ban piñatas from city parks, claiming they often end up as litter—sending a clear message that Mexican families are not welcomed in public green spaces. When Black artists in Dallas are commissioned to create signs for a city park and their proposed designs memorialize a history of racial violence in that public space, their project is cancelled.  

Indeed, because of past violence against them, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinxs are known to avoid national parks and nature spaces that hold histories of lynching and other cruelties. The road less traveled sounds tempting for a backpacking adventure, but may only be advisable for those who are moneyed and white.  

If the land holds memory of tragedy, shame, and fractured community, how does one access the healing powers it also contains? How then can one carry out an ecological restoration of the soul and reinvigorate spirit through wondrous encounters with and in the natural world? What kinds of power structures (gender, race, class, ability) or material limits (financial, geographic, consumerist) mediate our relationship with the natural, and how can we attempt to transcend those structures and limits?

For this issue of About Place, you’re invited to describe the “letting go” spaces of rewilding—the critical habitats where and when our human expressions and behaviors might become unfettered—in explorations that are less mediated, colonized, or civilized. And what could such explorations possibly serve to resemble, reify, or reject?

We may also begin to envision ways that rewilding of our built environments (e.g., schools, workplaces, public squares, and residential spaces) might possibly enhance or help reset our spiritual and mental ecosystems so that, as author and scholar Marc Bekoff writes, we begin to do the “essential work of becoming reenchanted with the world.”  

We encourage submissions of soundscapes/music (audio), recorded or transcribed interviews, performance art (video), and hybrid art forms, in addition to poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, photography, and visual art. We expect that most submissions will be in English, but will also consider work created or performed in other languages. Poetry submissions are limited to three poems or fewer; prose must be under 4000 words.


Issue Editor

Tammy Melody Gomez is an activist, performance artist, and writer whose work is published in collections including Bikequity: Money, Class, and Bicycling (Microcosm Publishing, 2017), Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art (UT Press, 2016), and Women in Nature (Louise Grace Publishing, 2014).  She is profiled in Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History (UT Press, 2003), and was honored by Goucher College (Maryland) with the “Alumnae/i Award for Excellence in Public Service” in 2010. She is a 2015–2018 Black Earth Institute Fellow and a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, and last year was named one of Fort Worth’s “Mujeres Poderosas.”  

Tammy has collaborated with hundreds of activist artists and writers in grassroots projects ranging from community radio (KO.OP Radio in Austin) to spoken word & poetry publications and programs (Yoniverse, DRESS CODES, Blast Your Own Breath, and WOW—Women of Words) to theatre-making (“She: Bike/Spoke/Love”, “PALABRA”, and “Saliendo Abierta”) and social practice initiatives, including Self Defense, YO! Without Violence, #RTTG Rebooted, and the ALMAQUI community
salon series.

For more on Tammy:  https://www.hatchfund.org/user/tammygomez

Assistant Issue Editors

Mayra Guardiola is a third-year, English literature M.A. student at Texas Christian University. Her research interests are ecocriticism, intersectional feminism, woman and gender studies, and postcolonial theory and literature. Currently, she is diligently writing her thesis, which investigates the interconnections between communities of color in global literature and their connection to ancestral lands in order to resist and overcome systems of oppression. When she isn’t stressing out about Ph.d. program applications, she is cuddling with her cats and dog, exploring the wonders of vegetarian and vegan cooking, and combating grad school blues through her yoga practice. Please visit her website at https://mayraalejandraguardiola.com.

Priscilla Solis Ybarra is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Texas, specializing in Chicana/o Literature and Theory as well as Environmental Literature and Ecocriticism. Her book, Writing the Goodlife: Mexican American Literature and the Environment (University of Arizona Press, 2016), was selected for the 2017 Thomas J. Lyon Book Award in Western and American Literary and Cultural Studies by the Western Literature Association, and was shortlisted for the ASLE Ecocriticism Book Award. She is co-editor of a forthcoming volume titled Latinx Literary Environmentalisms and is drafting a monograph on Latinx environmental activism. In the summer of 2016, she was an Aldo and Estella Leopold Writer in
Residence at Tres Piedras, New Mexico, where she researched and wrote about the life of Estella Elvira Luna Bergere Leopold and her contributions to American environmentalism. She currently serves on the board of directors for Orion Magazine, and on the Executive Council of ASLE. Priscilla Solis Ybarra’s website: pybarra.weebly.com