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Camille T. Dungy Interviewed in The Missouri Review

The Missouri Review always has plenty to offer readers. Aside from the usual poetry and prose, there are art features, a “curio cabinet” feature, and an interview. In the Spring 2021 issue, Jacob Griffin Hall interviews poet, essayist, professor, and editor Camille T. Dungy. The two discuss everything from types of research to environmental writing to poetic beginnings. There is plenty to take away from this interview, but what I enjoyed most was the portion on “experiential research,” excerpted here:

HALL: In an interview with Arkana, you talk about “experiential research”—”Listening to the world, paying attention, watching and looking” is just as important as, say, digging into archives. What habits or practices do you have that help you be attentive to the world around you?

DUNGY: Ha. It’s not a habit or practice. It’s a way of life. I suppose it could be taught. I suppose we all have to learn to slow down and pay better and different attention from time to time. But I also think that an artist, a writer, must look at the world more attentively, more closely, more patiently and carefully than people who are not artists tend to look. It’s just how I move through the world. I can stop and hear myself thinking if I want to, but I am always thinking in this way. “How would I describe the color of that grass?” “Oh, look, that rabbit has a bit of russet on its scruff.” “I wonder when they first release Subarus in the US?” “Do you think that woman’s eyes are naturally gray? Those are all questions I asked out loud or in my head today.

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