August 30, 2017 was a rainy summer day at Oglethorpe University. As 6:30 p.m. rolled around and the little warmth of the day began to set with the sun, students vacated campus for the safety of their dorms; all, that is, except for the students who tucked themselves away inside the Earl Dolive Theater to hear visiting poet, the acclaimed Camille Dungy, read excerpts from and discuss her two latest work – Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History and Trophic Cascade. Camille’s honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and a California Book Award silver medal. She is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Camille opened her reading with excerpts from her first book, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, and proceeded to take her audience on a journey from the beginning of her writing career to where she is today. Nearly a full house, among the audience was Oglethorpe faculty members Prof. Jessica Handler, Dr. Sarah Terry, and Dr. Glenn Sharfman. Prof. Handler, who coordinated the event, had this say: “I’m thrilled that Camille Dungy could make time in her schedule to read at Oglethorpe; she was here for the Decatur Book Festival, and added us to her itinerary. My goal in welcoming working writers to Oglethorpe is dual; I want to demystify the idea of a ‘writer,’ and to encourage conversation and confidence in OU students about their own writing.”
After performing her poetry and bantering with the audience, Camille stayed behind to sign copies of her books. A table in the back of the theater stood prepared with copies of her two latest works for those students who wished to purchase and get a signed copy. Entranced by the small world of literary wonder Camille had created within the walls of the theater, students crowded the room, eager to stay tucked away a little while longer and to remain in the orbit of such an accomplished artistic mind.