Camille T. Dungy is the author of Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She is the editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade.
Dungy’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf. She has won an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, and a California Book Award silver medal. In addition to two NAACP Image Award nominations, Dungy’s books have been shortlisted for the Academy of American Poets William Carlos Williams Award, the California Book Awards, the Balcones Prize, the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and the Library of Virginia Literary Award.
Dungy’s recent poems and essays have been published widely in anthologies and print and online journals including Poetry, Callaloo, and The American Poetry Review. After seven years teaching in San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing Department, this fall she will begin a position as Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
In an interview with the Poetry Society of America, Dungy described her status as an “outsider/insider” poet:
“In what ways might you consider yourself an American poet?
“There’s the obvious answer that I was born here in America (in the American West, at that), that my parents and their parents and their parents’ parents were born in America, that I have very straight teeth via juvenile orthodontia, and that only once in my world travels have I tried to pretend I was from another country (Canada, due to the convenience of the accent) in order to avoid the embarrassment of having to answer to decisions made by the nationally-elected government leaders of the United States. Despite the fact that my parents and their parents and their parents’ parents were born in the United States, as African Americans they and I have lived both as outsiders and insiders in this nation, a nation whose identity, though in some ways entirely stable, is also in a state of continuous flux based on patterns of immigration, migration, radically shifting socio-economic roles, and other dynamic variables. My writing, like much American poetry, resists stasis even is it strives to build traditions. The outsider/insider status fostered by, among other things, facts of my race and gender, provides me a view of this dynamic culture and means my poetry is likely to simultaneously embrace and reproach the nation I am to greater or lesser extents encouraged to call home. When I write, I write out of these realities. “
Visit camilledungy.com for more about Camille, including more interviews, reviews of her works, and audio and video of readings. To meet her during the conference week, attend her lecture Monday, July 29, at 9 a.m., or her reading at Robert Mondavi Winery Tuesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. — for details, visit the readings and lectures page.