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“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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“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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“Her work is part travel diary, part maternal memoir, and part self-discovery. As a poet, Dungy’s writing skitters across the page, shining daily scenes of motherhood and surroundings through an intersectional lens. A MUST READ.”
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“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.”
“Dungy’s poetry often incorporates themes concerning the natural world, giving an urgency to the hope imbued in her poems.”
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“The poems below, however, are not all heartbreak poems although Camille Dungy’s poem, written in the voice of a former freeman now slave, is a beautifully sad reminder that Valentine’s Day is almost smack in the middle of Black History month.”
Read the poem here.