Margaret
Nonfiction Writer
NYT Contributing Writer
Travels from: Nashville, TN

“She generously shares her wisdom in a safe and effectual way.” — U of Lynchburg, 2021

Margaret Renkl is the author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss and Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South. She is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear each Monday. Her work has also appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Oxford American, River Teeth, and The Sewanee Review, among others. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, she lives in Nashville.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. In Late Migrations, she traces (in brief essays) a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents—her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father—and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver. Gorgeously illustrated by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut. Her next book, Graceland, At Last, brings together 60 of Renkl’s New York Times columns, which offer a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope in a sparkling new collection. In a patchwork quilt of personal and reported essays, Renkl highlights some other voices of the South, people who are fighting for a better future for the region. A group of teenagers who organized a youth march for Black Lives Matter. An urban shepherd whose sheep remove invasive vegetation. Church parishioners sheltering the homeless. Throughout, readers will find the generosity of spirit and deep attention to the world, human and nonhuman, that keep readers returning to her columns each Monday morning.

Braided into the overall narrative of her work, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds—the natural one and our own—“the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.

Margaret’s Authors Unbound Profile: 

Graceland, At Last

Milkweed Editions |
Nonfiction

Winner of the 2022 Southern Book Prize

Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

An Indie Next Selection for September 2021

A Book Marks Best Reviewed Essay Collection of 2021

A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2021

A Country Living Best Book of Fall 2022

A Garden & Gun Recommended Read for Fall 2021

A Book Marks Best Reviewed Book of September 2021

From the author of the bestselling #ReadWithJenna/TODAY Show book club pick Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

For the past four years, Margaret Renkl’s columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville. Now more than sixty of those pieces have been brought together in this sparkling new collection.

“People have often asked me how it feels to be the ‘voice of the South, ‘” writes Renkl in her introduction. “But I’m not the voice of the South, and no one else is, either.” There are many Souths–red and blue, rural and urban, mountain and coast, Black and white and brown–and no one writer could possibly represent all of them. In Graceland, At Last, Renkl writes instead from her own experience about the complexities of her homeland, demonstrating along the way how much more there is to this tangled region than many people understand.

In a patchwork quilt of personal and reported essays, Renkl also highlights some other voices of the South, people who are fighting for a better future for the region. A group of teenagers who organized a youth march for Black Lives Matter. An urban shepherd whose sheep remove invasive vegetation. Church parishioners sheltering the homeless. Throughout, readers will find the generosity of spirit and deep attention to the world, human and nonhuman, that keep readers returning to her columns each Monday morning.

From a writer who “makes one of all the world’s beings” (NPR), Graceland, At Last is a book full of gifts for Southerners and non-Southerners alike.

Late Migrations: A Natural History Of Love And Loss

Milkweed Editions |
Nonfiction

Named a Best Book of the Year by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

From New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family–and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents–her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father–and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver.

And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds–the natural one and our own–“the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.”

Gorgeously illustrated by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.

Authors Unbound

The Link Between Happiness and Creativity

Authors Unbound

Fitting a Creative Practice Into the Demands of Everyday Life

Authors Unbound

The Challenges and Obligations of Writing From Memory

Authors Unbound

Waking Up to the Natural World

Authors Unbound

Making Your World a Wildlife Sanctuary

Authors Unbound

Writing as an Act of Forgiveness

Authors Unbound

Wrestling With What It Means To Be a Southern Writer

Authors Unbound

Finding Hope in the Age of Climate Change

Interviews with Margaret

Upcoming Events

Margaret’s NYT Essays

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Read With Jenna Pick
Reed Environmental Writing Award
SBP Award
PEN America Literary Award Winner

Media Kit

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