Camille Dungy joins us for an exclusive virtual event to celebrate the publication of her memoir, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden (Simon & Schuster). Camille will be joined in conversation by Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights.
“What an intoxicating book. Dungy’s words smell of rot, roots, and blossoms. She brings proof that incantations for nature can come from a yard in a subdivision, and that a family can turn hard soil into life.” – Craig Childs, Author of House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest
“With this book Dungy shows, by comparison, how unrooted so many of us are – ecologically, historically, and socially – and makes a poetic case that home is where you know the plants. This poignant, lovely work will make you want to nurture a garden, and all life.” -- Ayana Johnson, Co-founder, Urban Ocean Lab
This free virtual event will be streamed on Zoom. Registration required.
A seminal work that expands how we talk about the natural world and the environment as National Book Critics Circle Criticism finalist Camille T. Dungy diversifies her garden to reflect her heritage.
In Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden, poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy recounts the seven-year odyssey to diversify her garden in the predominately white community of Fort Collins, Colorado. When she moved there in 2013, with her husband and daughter, the community held strict restrictions about what residents could and could not plant in their gardens.
In resistance to the homogenous policies that limited the possibility and wonder that grows from the earth, Dungy 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, and 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.
ABOUT CAMILLE DUNGY & ROSS GAY
Camille T. Dungy is the author of the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has edited three anthologies, including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Her honors include the 2021 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an and an American Book Award. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.
Ross Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights: Essays and four books of poetry. His Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Be Holding won the 2021 PEN America Jean Stein Book Award. He is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.