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Trophic Cascade
Camille T. Dungy

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2017 • 92 pp. 7 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - African American / Poetry - Nature

$14.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7856-3
$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7719-1

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7720-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Dungy asks how we can survive despair and finds her answers close to the earth.”—Diana Whitney, Kenyon Review

Poems about birth, death, and ecosystems of nature and power

In this fourth book in a series of award-winning survival narratives, Dungy writes positioned at a fulcrum, bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. In a time of massive environmental degradation, violence and abuse of power, a world in which we all must survive, these poems resonate within and beyond the scope of the human realms, delicately balancing between conflicting loci of attention. Dwelling between vibrancy and its opposite, Dungy writes in a single poem about a mother, a daughter, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, brittle stars, giant boulders, and a dead blue whale. These poems are written in the face of despair to hold an impossible love and a commitment to hope. A readers companion will be availabe at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

Trophic Cascade frequently bears witness-to violence, to loss, to environmental degradation-but for Dungy, witnessing entails hope.”—Julie Swarstad Johnson, Harvard Review Online

“Beneath her matter-of-fact, easy-going, sit-yourself-down, let-me-tell-it-like-it-is chatifying. Her power we take deadly seriously.”—Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews

“[Trophic Cascade] asks us, in spite of the pain or difficulty of being human today, to find joy and vibrancy in our experiences”—Elizabeth Flock, PBS Newshour

“[W]hat it means to be truly alive seeps into even the simplest of actions … Dungy’s poems depict a universe of clockwork precision whose logic can be too complex for mortal minds”Publishers Weekly

“Earthly and visionary, a soulful reckoning for our twenty-first century, held in focus through echoes of the past and future, but always firmly rooted in now. Each poem is a bridge in the music of a language that we believe and trust, that heals.”—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Pleasure Dome

“This is the work of a feminist whose voice is confident, authoritative—it is a book that does not wonder about or meditate on so much as sing, declare, witness, order, elegize. Dungy’s poems manifest an uneasy self-perception, but—or I should say, and—their source is strength and love. The combination makes Trophic Cascade urgent and necessary.”—Joy Katz, author of All You Do Is Perceive

From the Book:

Trophic Cascade

After the reintroduction of gray wolves
to Yellowstone and, as anticipated, their culling
of deer, trees grew beyond the deer stunt
of the mid century. In their up reach
songbirds nested, who scattered
seed for underbrush, and in that cover
warrened snowshoe hare. Weasel and water shrew
returned, also vole, and came soon hawk
and falcon, bald eagle, kestrel, and with them
hawk shadow, falcon shadow. Eagle shade
and kestrel shade haunted newly-berried
runnels where mule deer no longer rummaged, cautious
as they were, now, of being surprised by wolves. Berries
brought bear, while undergrowth and willows, growing now
right down to the river, brought beavers,
who dam. Muskrats came to the dams, and tadpoles.
Came, too, the night song of the fathers
of tadpoles. With water striders, the dark
gray American dipper bobbed in fresh pools
of the river, and fish stayed, and the bear, who
fished, also culled deer fawns and to their kill scraps
came vulture and coyote, long gone in the region
until now, and their scat scattered seed, and more
trees, brush, and berries grew up along the river
that had run straight and so flooded but thus dammed,
compelled to meander, is less prone to overrun. Don't
you tell me this is not the same as my story. All this
life born from one hungry animal, this whole,
new landscape, the course of the river changed,
I know this. I reintroduced myself to myself, this time
a mother. After which, nothing was ever the same.


Winner of the Colorado Book Award in Poetry (2018)

CAMILLE DUNGY is the author of Smith Blue, winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize, Suck on the Marrow, winner of the American Book Award, What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison, and a collection of personal essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers. She is editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, co editor of From the Fishouse: An anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade. She is a professor of English at Colorado State University.

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Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:37:47 -0500