11/17 Camille T. Dungy & Ross Gay


Poets Camille T. Dungy (photo Beowulf Sheehan) and Ross Gay (photo Natasha Komoda)

Black Nature, Poetry, and Coexistence:

Camille T. Dungy & Ross Gay

in conversation with Aya de León and Maurya Kerr

Wednesday, November 17th 2021

5:00 – 6:30pm PST

This event will be livestreamed + live captioned on ARC’s YouTube Channel.

Register on Eventbrite here and receive email reminders.

Watch the livestream on YouTube here.

This event is presented by the Arts Research Center and Engaging the Senses Foundation, and co-sponsored by the Black Studies Collaboratory, Future Histories Lab of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, and the departments of English, Ethnic Studies, and Theater, Dance & Performance Studies


Please join us in welcoming two extraordinary poets to ARC’s virtual stage: Camille T. Dungy and Ross Gay. After their readings, they will be joined by Aya de León and ARC f2021 poetry fellow Maurya Kerr for conversation and Q&A.

In addition to four collections of poetry, Camille Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets. By using social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry, Dungy challenged and changed that framework to include poets writing out of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century African American poetic movements. Ross Gay is interested in studying joy. His four books of poetry include the National Book Award winning Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (2015), and his latest, Be Holding (2020), is the winner of the PEN /Jean Stein Book Award. Gay is also the author of the NYT bestselling collection of essays, The Book of Delights, and co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens. A long time gardener and advocate for cultivating community, Gay is a founding member of the food justice and joy project the Bloomington Community Orchard.


Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations. Dungy’s poems have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, the Pushcart Anthology, Best American Travel Writing, and over thirty other anthologies. She is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.

Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new poem, Be Holding, was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press in September of 2020. His collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019. Ross is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Rosechard Wehrenberg, of the chapbook, “River.” He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He also works on The Tenderness Project with Shayla Lawson and Essence London. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.


Aya de León continues the legacy of June Jordan as the Director of Poetry for the People, teaching poetry and spoken word. Kensington Books publishes her Justice Hustlers feminist heist novels, which have won first place International Latino Book Awards and Independent Publisher Awards. Her latest in the series is SIDE CHICK NATION the first novel published about Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In 2021 Kensington will publish her first spy novel, about FBI infiltration of an African American eco-racial justice organization. Aya’s work has also appeared in Guernica, Writers Digest, Essence, Bitch Magazine, Ebony, VICE, The Root, Ploughshares, and on Def Poetry, where she writes about race, class, gender, culture and climate action.

Maurya Kerr is a bay area-based writer, educator, and artist. Much of her artistic work, across disciplines, is focused on Black and brown people reclaiming their birthright to wonderment. Maurya’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue River Review, River Heron Review, Inverted Syntax, Oyster River Pages, Chestnut Review, Mason Jar Press Journal, Harbor Review, and “The Future of Black: A Black Comics and Afrofuturism Anthology” (November, 2021).  Maurya is an ARC fall 2021 Poetry fellow.