Guidebook to Relative Strangers featured on The Rumpus’s “WHAT TO READ WHEN YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE MOTHERS” List

“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. With exceptional candor and grace, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds―the intimate and vulnerable experiences of raising a child, living with illness, conversing with strangers, and counting on others’ goodwill. Across the nation, she finds fear and trauma, and also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, Guidebook to Relative Strangers is an essential guide for a troubled land.”


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Camille is named a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University

“Her record of creative activity is simply outstanding: scores of individual poems and essays, with over 25 works selected for anthologized publication, five sole-authored collections of poetry [and prose], and three edited collections from top-tier publishers, in addition to nearly 100 public appearances at esteemed venues such as the Poetry Foundation, the Newberry Library, Stanford University and Vanderbilt University,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Ben Withers wrote in an endorsement of Dungy’s nomination. “As her selection as one of the 16 writers for the New York Times 1619 Project shows, Professor Dungy’s work brings honor and recognition to Colorado State University in ways that few faculty can match.”


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Book Recommendations: Robert Hass and Czeslaw Milosz

Today’s book recommendations are a strike against social isolation. This week I found myself reading my way into community by exploring the new book, Summer Snow, by former Poet Laureate Robert Hass alongside an older collection, Unattainable Earth, by the inimitable Czeslaw Milosz.
Hass worked with Milosz to translate many of the poems in Unattainable Earth, and so that is one way I see community and communion at play in these collections. The long, stunning poem by Hass (from Summer Snow), is an imagining of a conversation between the two poets. I love thinking about how writers think about each other’s lives and minds.
Milosz himself made a point of creating such communion in Unattainable Earth. In the original Polish version of the book, Milosz translated English-language poems into Polish. In the American version of the book, in which Milosz’s own work is what we receive in translation, Milosz’s poems sit alongside English-language masterpieces by poets such as D. H. Lawrence and Walt Whitman. 
Just because we’re staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t hang out together. I am grateful to Hass and Milosz for these examples of what happens when poets talk, think, translate, share, and imagine a world together, across continents and centuries and collections.

Camille contributes to the “The Quarantine Files” for the Los Angeles Review of Books

“Last winter, I hardly left the house because it was dangerously cold outside. Sheets of thin ice covered walkways. People — worried about landing in the hospital — hardly socialized for months. There was the winter I fretted about friends and family suffering from conditions over which they and their medical teams had little control. That was the same winter my concerns flared for friends who were foreign nationals. Would my country — whose leadership had proven hostile on countless occasions — directly or indirectly take actions that might cause my friends harm? There was the winter I mourned the direction my nation had taken the past fall. The policies of the new government — and those backing the new government — no longer seemed to have the best interest of the majority of people in mind.”

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