Dungy is the author
of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (2017), Smith
Blue (2011), Suck on the Marrow (2010) and What
to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (2006). Her debut
collection of personal essays is called Guidebook to Relative Strangers (2017).
Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature
Poetry (2009); co-edited
the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (2009); and served as
associate editor for Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave
Canem’s First Decade (2006).
Dungy is currently a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. Camille T. Dungy’s honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations and a California Book Award silver medal. She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Diane Middlebrook Residency Fellowship of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and other organizations. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, nearly thirty other anthologies, and more than 100 print and online journals.
An award-winning African American poet debuts in prose with a stunningly graceful and honest exploration of race, motherhood, and history. As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille T. Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then a toddler. As they travel, Dungy is intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child but as black females. With a poet’s eye, she celebrates the particular in the universal, such as a child’s acquisition of language and what to pack in a diaper bag. At the same time, her horizons are wide, as history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers’ and investors’ dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.
With exceptional candor, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds—the multitudinous experiences of mothering, illness, and the ever-present embodiment of race—finding fear and trauma but also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, far-seeing and intimate, her prose is an essential guide for a troubled land.
In this fourth book in a series of award-winning survival narratives, Dungy writes positioned at a fulcrum, bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. In a time of massive environmental degradation, violence and abuse of power, a world in which we all must survive, these poems resonate within and beyond the scope of the human realms, delicately balancing between conflicting loci of attention. Dwelling between vibrancy and its opposite, Dungy writes in a single poem about a mother, a daughter, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, brittle stars, giant boulders, and a dead blue whale. These poems are written in the face of despair to hold an impossible love and a commitment to hope. A readers companion will be availabe at wesleyan.edu/wespress/readerscompanions.