Below are links to the reviews as well as a little background story.
1.) I met Camille Dungy when she did a poetry reading at an AME church in Athens, GA. I loved how she honored that sacred space with her own words and by reading the words of other poets that had shaped her. It was spring break and so my children were out of school and my parents, sister, and young niece were in town. They wouldn't have chosen to spend a sunny spring afternoon at a poetry reading but they all came and enjoyed it. When she was finished I asked her to sign my copies of a powerful anthology that she edited called Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and a collection of her own poems called What to Eat, What to Drink and What to Leave for Poison.
Even though I assured them that the books were for our whole family, my children wanted her signature too. So, they stood in line and asked her to sign their faces. Camille Dungy and I had a little "mom to mom" moment where she was not going to sign my kids in sharpie unless I directly requested it. I looked at my kids and shook my head, "OK kids, she can she just sign your hands instead of your face." So she signed their hands. They immediately pressed their hands to their faces so that the reverse image of her signature showed up on their heads. Let's just say Camille Dungy left a lasting impression on all of us and she didn't forget us either!.
When I saw that she had a new collection of essays Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History I knew I had to read it. Last spring I was preparing to attend a writing retreat called Revision, Spirituality and the Writer's Life and we were asked to choose a book that we thought of as influential in our own book projects. The problem was that her book was not going to be released until after my retreat but I knew it was the book I needed. So I emailed her and asked her if I could buy it early for my retreat. She said yes, and I got a signed copy with the command "Thrive!" Her book is definitely providing the wisdom and inspiration for me to write the book I need to write.
Here is my review called The Vocation of Being a Stranger of Camille Dungy's Guidebook to Relative Strangers that I wrote for the Jan 31, 2018 issue of The Christian Century
2. Englewood Review of Books named Jesmyn Ward's Sing Unburied Sing the best novel of 2017. It is a heart-wrenching gem of book, that has gotten all kinds of other accolades. If you haven't read it please, please do. It was an honor to review it. The full review is only available in print in the Advent 2017 edition of the Englewood Review of Books but you can read a piece of it here.
3. I also offered to review a book by Daniel Coleman called Presence and Process: a Path Toward Transformative Faith an Inclusive Community, without really realizing what it was about. The title made me think it would be about the transformational process of staying present when you are in a community with divergent viewpoints. It was actually about how the rise of Buddhist practice in the West has led to and influenced deeper Christian contemplative practice. It was interesting. The author went to Earlham School of Religion which is just down the road from Earlham College where I studied. You can read the full review online here at the Englewood Review of Books