Meet the Keynote: Camille Dungy

The poet and writer Camille Dungy (USA), New York, New York, May 30, 2019. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

“Earthly and visionary.” –Yusef Komunyakaa

The TLA Network is pleased to include poet and writer, Camille T. Dungy, as one of three keynotes at the upcoming TLA Network’s 2022 Power of Words Conference. The conference keynotes also include noted Irish Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, and Kathleen Adams, founder of the Therapeutic Writing Institute and the Center for Journal Therapy. The conference will be online October 13-16 next fall, and the super early bird registration fee (20% off the regular price) is available now through December 31, 2021.

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017); Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011) winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize; Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010) winner of the American book award in 2010; and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006).

Her debut collection of personal essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. The Kirkus Review noted of this lyrical memoir, “Each essay flows smoothly into the next, and they are all interlinked with themes of race, fear, joy, and love, bringing readers eye to eye with the experiences of being a black female poet, lecturer, mother, and woman. Forthright, entertaining, often potent essays that successfully intertwine personal history and historical context regarding black and white in America.”

Dungy is the editor of the anthology Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets. About the anthology, a Booklist starred review notes, “Just as nature is too often defined as wilderness when, in fact, nature is everywhere we are, our nature poetry is too often defined by Anglo-American perspectives, even though poets of all backgrounds write about the living world. Dungy enlarges our understanding of the nexus between nature and culture, and introduces a ‘new way of thinking about nature writing and writing by black Americans.’” Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole. Dungy serves as the poetry editor for Orion magazine.

Dungy is also the editor of several other anthologies, including From the Fishouse (Persea, 2009) and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Dungy 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. She was the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American PoetryThe 100 Best African American Poems, nearly thirty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals.

Dungy is currently University Distinguished Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Registration is now open for the 2022 Power of Words conference, which features Camille Dungy as keynote. The conference will be held online from October 13-16, 2022, and is on sale now through December 31 – save 20% off the 2022 conference fee!

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