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Headliner Spotlight: Camille Dungy

We're very lucky to have Camille Dungy, whose stunning work has a natural music and a longstanding interest in the relationship between ecology and society, as one of our headliners for the first Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival. Her latest book, Soil: the Story of a Black Mother's Garden, is not a poetry collection but a unique memoir about her experience building a garden in Fort Collins, Colorado, where her mostly white community maintained bizarrely restrictive rules for gardening--reflective, to her mind, of a dangerous mania for homogeneity, corrosive to both the enviroment and culture. 

In the clip above, Dungy reads "What I know I cannot say", from her 2017 collection Trophic Cascade. The poem recounts a visit fo Angel Island, the former site of a U.S. Bureau of Immigration inspection and detention facility in San Fancisco Bay. I'm amazed at the way Dungy fluidly and compassionately ties together meditations on the natural world, invasive species, immigration, history, and linguistics in this poem, all by way of addressing an estranged second person, who returns masterfully to our attention at the end of the poem. Here, the dualities of personal and political, collective and individual, human and non-human, and present and past are inseparable and in constant interaction. "Few things tie us together more than the need to find the right words/ to justify ourselves," she declares. The statement could practically serve as a mission statement for our poetry festival. 

Camille Dungy will read on Saturday, April 13, at the 7 PM reading in the Dimond Library's Courtyard Reading Room. Check our Schedule page for more info about the Festival's offerings, and the Featured Poets page for a full bio.


--Matthew Mallory Dinaro