Friday, February 27, 2015

Q&A …

… Professor Camille Dungy talks African-American nature poetry and how it relates to writers today | Rocky Mountain Collegian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

We were brought here as livestock and we were brought here to work the land. When you actually aren’t engaged and dehumanized, that very kind of consciousness develops in awareness to the land. There is kind of this tradition to western nature poetry that is about objectification and idealization of the landscape. Kind of city boys writing about how lovely it would be to live in the country. There is a large body of African-American poetry that comes from the South. Those are country boys and they themselves or direct relatives were working the land. That mentality shifts everything. I grew up in the American west, hiking in the mountains. I was deeply engaged in the natural world around me and that was important to me. Understanding the landscape that I walked through and connecting with the landscape was really important to who I was as a human being. I do think another thing to think about when considering African-American poetry is a legacy of being pushed away from the land. There is a lot of memory with being pushed away with loss. There are major periods in African-American literature where writing is engagement in dislocation.

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