As we mentioned yesterday, we are spending this week highlighting our “local” poets (faculty and alumni). We sent a short set of questions to each, and will be posting their responses. Today we are sharing what Camille Dungy had to say. (You can read our feature of her from 2017 National Poetry Month here, and our feature of her for Women’s History Month which includes her bio).

Camille Dungy sitting in front of a bookcase, looking at the camera and smiling

Why does poetry matter? 

Poetry makes me pay attention more carefully and imaginatively to the possibilities that are out there in the world.

Why do you write poetry and not some other genre?  

I actually do write in other genres. In 2017, I published a collection of poetry (Tropic Cascade, Wesleyan University Press) and a collection of essays (Guidebook to Relative Strangers, W.W. Norton). Most of the writers in our Creative Writing program write in more than one genre. That allows us to choose the best genre for each specific piece we write. It also allows us to be open minded readers and teachers.

How did you find poetry? 

I was raised in a home where literature was valued. Poetry has never not been a part of my life. I fell in love with it early, and the affection has never waned.

What are you working on now? 

I’m always working on writing one line and then another and then another. Eventually they all add up to something, but I’ve learned to be patient as I let the work build into what it needs to be. That’s part of why my pedagogy has students write so much. Through the act of writing, we learn what it is we are meant to be writing.

What poem, poet, or poetry collection is your favorite? 

Impossible question! I try to read at least two books of poetry a week. There are so many good of books or poetry out there! So many! Five I love in particular: The Collected Lucille Clifton; The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass; Electric Arches by Eve Ewing, Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (who will read at CSU on April 26th).