Camille Dungy & Jason Olsen - Salt Lake City

Camille Dungy & Jason Olsen

Camille Dungy & Jason Olsen

Camille Dungy & Jason Olsen

Photo by Tyson Chappell, USU-Eastern

Sep 24, 2018, 7:00 pm


Camille Dungy & Jason Olsen

Book Title

Guidebook to Relative Strangers & Parakeet: A Poem of Opportunity


Salt Lake City

Wasatch Front Region


Westminster College
1840 S 1300 E
Salt Lake City , UT 84105-3617
Map [+]


Westminster College and the Anne Newman Sutton Weeks Poetry Series presents poets Camille Dungy and Jason Olsen on Monday, September 24th at the Kim Adamson Alumni House on Westminster College Campus.

In Guidebook to Relative Strangers, Camille Dungy debuts in prose with a stunningly graceful and honest exploration of race, motherhood, and history. As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then a toddler. As they travel, Dungy is intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child but as black females. With a poet’s eye, she celebrates the particular in the universal, such as a child’s acquisition of language and what to pack in a diaper bag. At the same time, her horizons are wide, as history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers’ and investors’ dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006). Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017). Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as associate editor for Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade(University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Camille T. Dungy’s honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and a California Book Award silver medal. She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Diane Middlebrook Residency Fellowship of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and other organizations. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Jason Olsen describes Parakeet: A Poem of Opportunity, as a "choose your own adventure poem." He was inspired to write it by his childhood love for the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. Like the books, at the bottom of each page the reader is given the opportunity to decide where they want the poem to venture next. Each person, or indeed each time an individual reads through this book they have the opportunity to create an entirely new poem.

Jason Olsen lives and works in Utah with his wife and two children. He writes poetry and fiction. Olsen has a PhD in Poetry from Western Michigan University and teaches English at Utah State University - Eastern.