Yari Yari Ntoaso Digital Salon Series: Camille Dungy

We’re excited to kick off our first ever Digital Salon featuring some of the most talented women writers of the African Diaspora! Today we’re highlighting poet Camille Dungy. Through this interview series, we aim to honor the legacy of black women writers- young,old, near and far- in support of this year’s Yari Yari Ntoaso Conference. Yari Yari cannot happen without your help. Please consider making a financial contribution in support of these women storytellers. Visit www.indiegogo/owwa to give.  

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Zora: I write because…

CD: I must.

Zora: If you were only allowed to own one piece of literature by a single author (e.g novel, short story collection, memoir, poetry collection), what work would you choose and why?

CD: Sometimes I worry about this.  In the way that I worry about things I know I won’t likely actually have to worry about.  This is one of the reasons I try to memorize poems I love.  That way even if I were forced to choose just one book to take with me, I would still have others in my head.

Zora: Has the emergence of new media or electronic forms of outreach (e.g., blogging, social media) changed how you write or interact with readers?

CD: New media has the potential to take a lot of time.  I’ve taken Facebook off my phone and don’t check email on the weekends, or I’d lose hours that could otherwise go to writing.  That said, I keep in touch with people easier, build a broader community, have an easier time knowing, as O’Hara would say,  “what the poets/ in Ghana are doing these days” and so I wouldn’t want to lose these advances completely.

 Zora: What is your proudest artistic moment thus far?

CD: That I wake up and write.  There are so many things that could keep me from writing, and there are so many people who are not able to wake up and write.  That I can wake up and write and also do, this is the first, most important, thing.

Zora: What should people know about women writers in and of the African Diaspora?

CD: This is a huge question with a huge number of specific answers.  The African Diaspora is huge.  I will say simply that people should know that women writers in and of the African Diaspora exist and that we are writing and that we are writing wonderfully.

Zora: Why should people support this year’s Yari Yari Ntoaso indiegogo campaign?

CD: Yari Yari Ntoaso promises to be a history making event.  This campaign will help expand its breadth and reach and allow access to those who might not otherwise be able to attend.

Zora: How can Zora Magazine and our readers learn more about you and your work?      

CD: One of my poems is featured in the March issue of O Magazine (p. 112), I am also featured on the  Poetry Foundation website and other places around the web and several new poems are in the March/April issue of American Poetry Review. You can  learn more about my work by visiting my website.

** Camille T. Dungy is author of Smith BlueSuck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison, editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First DecadeShe recently served as guest editor for Two Lines: World Literature in Translation. Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, a fellowship from the NEA, and two NAACP Image Award nominations.  Dungy’s poems and essays have been published widely in anthologies and print and online journals including Poetry, Callaloo, and The American Poetry Review. Dungy is a Professor in the Creative Writing department at San Francisco State University. **