Barbara Kingsolver


Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in the Congo in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her widely known works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Each of her books published since 1993 has been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Kingsolver has received numerous awards, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award 2011, UK's Orange Prize for Fiction 2010, for The Lacuna, and the National Humanities Medal. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2000, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize to support "literature of social change." Source 

Naming Myself

I have guarded my name as people 

in other times kept their own clipped hair,

believing the soul could be scattered

if they were careless.


I knew my first ancestor.

His legend. I have touched

his boots and moustache, the grandfather

whose people owned slaves and cotton.

He was restless in Virginia

among the gentleman brothers, until

one peppered, flaming autumn he stole a horse,

rode over the mountains to marry

a leaf-eyed Cherokee.

The theft was forgiven but never

the Indian blood. He lost his family’s name

and invented mine, gave it fruit and seeds.

I never knew the grandmother.

Her photograph has ink-thin braids

and buttoned clothes, and nothing that she was called.


I could shed my name in the middle of life,

the ordinary thing, and it would flee

along with childhood and dead grandmothers

to that Limbo for discontinued maiden names.


But it would grow restless there.

I know this. It would ride over leaf smoke mountains

and steal horses.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Memory & The Past

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing