Camille T. Dungy
Dungy’s full-length poetry publications include Suck on the Marrow (2010) and the sonnet collection What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (2006), which was a finalist for both the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Library of Virginia Literary Award. Describing the poems in What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison as “rogue sonnets,” Dungy said of the poems’ speakers in a 2007 Boxcar Review interview with poet Sean Hill, “These are folks who take the restrictions and traditions that have been handed to them and they do what they can to make beautiful things with their lives […] so the fact that the sonnets follow some rules and flaunt others is a direct reflection of their subjects.” In a 2009 review of the same collection for Pembroke Magazine, Tara Betts observed that the collection “offers a number of ways to look at what is considered to be a part of nature, whether it is a part of the plants or the people that inhabit a place.” As Betts later noted, “This tension of living close to passion and death simultaneously creates urgency in these quiet poems.”
Addressing the paucity of African American poets in anthologies of nature poetry, Dungy stated in a 2010 interview for the Oakland Tribune, “I miss seeing writers of color in the conversation. Until we have greater variety in the conversation, it is not a conversation—it is a monologue.” To that end, Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (2009), which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. She was also co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great (2009), and assistant editor for Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (2006).
Winner of the Dana Award, Dungy has also received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Cave Canem, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Dungy lives in Oakland, California, and has taught at San Francisco State University and the University of North Carolina.
Poems By CAMILLE T. DUNGY
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I Smell the Blood of Low-Definition Attorneys
Poems by Camille T. Dungy, Eduardo C. Corral, Linda Kunhardt, Alice Lyons, and Stephen Yenser from December's Q&A issue.