Considering that you are primarily a poet, Guidebook to Relative Strangers is your debut book of essays. It is my understanding that this book originally started out as a memoir, and transformed into a sort of traveling journal of your career as a writer and new role as a mother in the first few years of your daughter’s life. Was this outcome the direction you were always headed toward?
This book started the same way all my books do: I was curious about the world in which I found myself at a particular moment, and I started taking notes. These notes seemed to want to be organized in the manner you read now in Guidebook to Relative Strangers. I didn’t sit down one day and say, “I’m going to write a memoir.” I can’t imagine going about things like that, though I imagine there are writers who could.
I was keeping notes about my experiences traveling as a black woman and also about my experiences becoming a mother. I was working towards a deeper understanding of what was being revealed to me about who I was and who I was becoming, and also about who we were as a nation. These notes began to overlap and speak to each other and, after a lot of hours at the desk, the book’s path began to reveal itself to me.
Read more at the source: BKMag – Interview with 2018 NBCC Criticism Award Finalist Camille T. Dungy
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