Poet, activist and author Stephen Wing lives in Atlanta with his wife Dawn Aura, two cats, and two wise old pecan trees. His poetry, fiction, essays, and workshops draw on his lifelong relationship with nature to help seed a much-needed evolutionary shift.
Life, Work, Travels
Wing discovered the wilderness in the summer after ninth grade, canoeing the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada with a church-sponsored summer camp, and suddenly the world made sense. A deep connection to wild nature has been his spiritual center ever since.
The son of Methodist missionaries, Wing grew up in Southeast Asia and returned to the States to attend high school in the Chicago suburbs. After graduating from Beloit College in 1978 with a degree in English composition, he spent his twenties hitchhiking the country, working odd jobs and keeping his overhead low. Along the way he experienced both the confrontational power of political protest and the communal vision of the Rainbow Family gatherings; both became regular destinations in his travels. He found his heart’s true home when he visited the Southern Appalachian mountains for the first time in 1981.
In 1990 he gave up his life on the road when he met Dawn Aura and settled in her adopted home town, Atlanta, Georgia. For over a decade he organized inter-faith celebrations of the Solstices and Equinoxes, based on the common understanding of the sacredness of nature across all spiritual traditions. Since 2010 he has hosted an “Earth Poetry” workshop each season, exploring metro Atlanta’s many urban wildspaces through the lens of poetry.
From the canoe trips of his youth through the peace and justice movement and Rainbow Gatherings large and small, Wing has always recognized the essential role of community among the human tribe. Since 2008 he has served on the board of a neighborhood nonprofit, the Lake Claire Community Land Trust, fostering community in Atlanta by stewarding a 1.7-acre urban greenspace. He is also a board member with Nuclear Watch South, standing against the corrupt profiteering of the nuclear power and nuclear war industries throughout the South.
Unlike many poets, Wing chose a non-academic path through life. Over the years he has worked as a house painter, a road paver, a T-shirt printer, a rock ’n’ roll roadie, a costume rental clerk, a promotional copy editor, and a produce stocker. Now mostly retired, he still works one day a week as recycling coordinator at New Leaf Distributing Co., a position he has held for nearly 30 years. In 2021 he celebrated his 65th birthday, his 30th wedding anniversary, and his 15th year as a cancer survivor.
Writings, Publications, Performances
Wild Atlanta: Greenspaces & Nature Preserves of Metro Atlanta (Wind Eagle Press, 2023) is a coffee-table book pairing poems about Atlanta’s many protected urban wildspaces with photographs by Luz Wright. Published with a “Artist Project” grant from the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
Proof of the Miraculous: Campfire Poetry from the Rainbow Gatherings (Wind Eagle Press, 2018, now out of print) chronicles three decades of countercultural festivals dedicated to world peace and healing.
The Earth Poetry chapbook series (Wind Eagle Press, 2014-2018) consists of five chapbooks devoted to poems for the trees, for the animals, for the water, for the underworld of rock and soil, and for the living planet itself.
Crossing the Expressway: Poems from the Open Road (Dolphins & Orchids, 2001) collects twelve years and a hundred thousand miles of poetry about Wing’s youthful hitchhiking adventures.
Four-Wheeler & Two-Legged: Poems (Southeastern Front, 1992) covers the usual poetic obsessions— love, death, nature, travel— but also delves deeply into the political urgencies of its time, including covert war in Central America and the threat of nuclear holocaust.
Writings in search of a publisher:
Kumbu’s Gift, a projected trilogy of eco-comic novels, precipitated by a brush with cancer in 2006. (Books 1 and 2 now complete.)
Washed in the Hurricane, a sampling of “Earth Poetry” – poems not about nature but about our relationship with nature as participants in a living world, with an introductory essay tracing the art of poetry to its Paleolithic roots.
Duties of the Witness, Wing’s collected political poetry, with an introductory essay on the value of poets engaging with the struggles and aspirations of ordinary people’s lives.
Wing performs regularly at environmental and political events as well as conventional poetry venues. Recent appearances include Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, the Get Off the Grid Fest, One Billion Rising, the Decatur Book Festival, the Arts Xchange, the Plowshares movement’s Festival of Hope, and WRFG community-supported radio. His poems and essays have appeared in Communities, Sojourners, The Ear, Aquarius, Cooptions, Canary, Eco-Theo, Cobalt Review, and Riddled with Arrows.
Take Action and Learn More
Our political, social, and environmental concerns are all connected at the root. I have concentrated my own efforts on the three areas listed below, Every issue is vitally important, and for each, one or more citizen groups has formed to work for fairness and sanity. Pick the one that calls to you and give what you can. Time, money, energy, creativity – it all counts.