The poetry that bears witness to the everyday

Listen nowDownload file
Embed player

Camille Dungy lives in Fort Collins and teaches at Colorado State University.  She’s the poetry editor for Orion Magazine and she has a new memoir out, called "Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden."  As a documentary poet, Camille writes not just about headline-making news, but about news on a more intimate scale — about motherhood, marriage, and her garden. It’s an approach she says was very much inspired by the "godmother" of documentary poetry, Muriel Rukeyeser


Camille T. Dungy

No one can fly down to bury his aunt.
The sickness is already there. That’s what
took her. And, anyway, we are stuck
at home. The moon swelled then emptied
into its shadow. We learned this week
the black singer died. Days later,
the white one. A man in the neighborhood,
young father of four. Lifted over the sink,
our child stood on the ledge and cleaned
the kitchen windows. It is bright outside
most days. Grass is greening up the yard.
An uncle died. Another aunt was taken
to the hospital. The moon swells again.
This feels like the early days of parenthood.
We swap watch. Focus on raising the child.
We’ve seen times like this before, we say.
Also, these times are like nothing we have
ever seen. When I came downstairs today
for breakfast, he was playing Lovely Day,
a song we danced to at our wedding.
We danced there, in the kitchen, all of us
howling those high and happy days. Lovely
day, we sang. Lovely day. Oh! Lovely day. 

let grow more winter fat / wine-cup / western wild rose

Camille T. Dungy

so little open prairie left      little waves of bluestem     little    

            fuzzy tongue penstemon        quieter the golden currant

                        nodding onion quieter now as well


only a few clusters of Colorado butterfly plant still yawn into the night


            where there once was prairie

                        a few remaining fireflies abstract themselves

over roads and concrete paths


                  prairie wants to stretch full out again and sigh—


            purple prairie clover       prairie zinnia

                          prairie dropseed nodding into solidago

bee balm brushing rabbitbrush—prairie wants      prairie wants      

       prairie wants