Camille Dungy
            Please state your name, age, and profession      (page 8)

* Note: I wrote this essay in 2008, and when the anthology that commissioned it met the unhappy demise of many such projects, I forgot about it for awhile. And then my grandmother died, at 92. When I began to look for things I'd written about her, I found this. Despite her death and the passage of years and the two new books I've written since the one I speak of here, everything I say is still true. In fact, I only changed one thing. The original essay read: "Before I published What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison...I gave [my father] first right of refusal... I do not think I would grant that power to anyone again." I removed the phrase "I do not think" and added the two sentences preceding it. There is no question in my mind any longer. Two books and several editing projects later, I know beyond a doubt I would not, could not, grant anyone the power to silence me again. When I write poetry, I make a choice to speak my mind. Writing away from silence is the responsibility I choose. It is not a responsibility I take lightly. It is the life I have claimed.


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