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    Professor and Poet Camille Dungy will Visit Pacific

    Jan 31, 2011

    An African-American poet who delves into the historical experiences of blacks, from slavery to the present day, will be the featured poet for this year's Black History Month celebration at University of the Pacific.

    Camille DungyThe poet, Camille Dungy, will read a selection of her works on Thursday, Feb. 24 on Pacific's Stockton campus in the Wendell Phillips Center (WPC), Room 140. A reception will take place at 6:30 p.m. and the reading will begin at 7 p.m. Both are free and open to the public. Dungy's books will be available for purchase at the event, and she will sign copies of her books during the reception and after the reading.

    Organized by Pacific's English Department and Ethnic Studies, co-sponsored by multiple partners, including the Benerd School of Education, Black History Month Committee, Gender Studies, COP Dean's Office, Pacific's PBK Chapter, Writing in the Disciplines, Friends of the Stockton Public Library, and the Marian Jacobs Literary Forum of the Stockton Arts Commission, Dungy's appearance is one of a number of activities taking place at Pacific during February as part of the University-wide annual celebration of Black History Month. Other activities include a keynote lecture by author and actor Hill Harper, roundtable discussions, a health fair, and film series.

    "Dungy is a role model and an inspiration," said Xiaojing Zhou, Professor of English and Director of Ethnic Studies. "Her work engages with the most pressing issues concerning society, humanity and the environment."

    Along with having edited many books and anthologies Dungy is author of "Suck on the Marrow," a book about the experiences of six fictionalized characters in Virginia and Philadelphia during the mid-19th century (published by Red Hen Press, 2010). The poetry follows a self-emancipated bondswomen, kidnapped northern-born black, free people of color and the slaves of a large plantation and small house. She also wrote "What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison," a poetry book that explores the life experiences of Americans in the 20th century (Red Hen Press 2006).

    Much of Dungy's work covers the broad range of experiences blacks face from slavery through the 20th century. She said her gender and race have a major influence on her work.

    When asked to speak in an interview with San Francisco writer Maisha Z. Johnson on how her race and gender define and shape her as a poet, Dungy responded, "Everything I do is informed by it, it informs everything about how people react to me, because I'm a woman, because I'm black, because I'm of a particular professional status, because now I'm a mother, all of those things mean that people relate to me differently and I relate to people differently."

    Dungy has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Cave Canem, the Dana Award, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Dungy has also been awarded fellowships and residencies by The Corporation of Yaddo, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Norton Island/Eastern Frontier Society, and the Ragdale Foundation. She was also once the Writer-in-Residence at Rocky Mountain National Park.

    For more information contact Ethnic Studies at 209-946-2245.