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Tending to the Garden with Camille T. Dungy and Denele Hughson
August 13 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pmFree
Join our partners at City of Asylum for this author event, moderated by our own Denele Hughson. This program welcomes poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy for a reading and conversation surrounding her essay collection, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden. Soil is a seminal work that expands how we talk about the natural world and the environment as Camille tends her garden to reflect her heritage.
In Soil, Camille recounts the seven-year odyssey to diversify her garden in the predominantly white community of Fort Collins, Colorado. When she moved there in 2013 with her husband and daughter, the community held restrictions about what residents could and could not plant in their gardens. In resistance to the stifling and restrictive policies, Camille employs the various plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers she grows in her garden as metaphor and treatise for how homogeneity threatens the future of our planet. In doing so, she is able to use this practice to exemplify why cultivating diverse and intersectional language in our national discourse about the environment is the best means of protecting it.
Definitive and singular, Soil functions at the nexus of nature writing, environmental justice, and prose to encourage you to recognize the relationship between the peoples of the African diaspora and the land on which they live, and to understand that wherever soil rests beneath their feet is home.
This reading is followed by a moderated conversation with Grow Pittsburgh Executive Director Denele Hughson, an audience Q&A, and an author signing. You can purchase your own copy of Camille’s book, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden, at City of Asylum Bookstore. In-person and livestream ticket options are both available.
About the Author:
Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She is also the author of the essay collections Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden (Simon & Schuster, 2023) and Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Camille has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations. Camille’s poems have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, the Pushcart Anthology, Best American Travel Writing, and over thirty other anthologies. She is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.