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Swarthmore Hosts First Annual Kathryn Morgan Spring Poetry Festival

Swarthmore College Hosts First Annual
Kathryn Morgan Spring Poetry Festival

Month-Long Festival to Include Performances
Ursula Rucker, Other Award-Winning Poets

by Anita Pace

Swarthmore College will celebrate the inaugural Kathryn Morgan Spring Poetry Festival in April, National Poetry Month.  Named in honor of a groundbreaking folklorist and historian who taught at Swarthmore for more than 20 years, the Festival features performances by award-winning poets Ursula Rucker, Na Tanyá Daviná Stewart, and Yolanda Wisher, who will each be joined on stage by Swarthmore students reading their work. Morgan, now retired, plans to attend the opening event on Thurs., Apr. 2, during which Swarthmore students, faculty, staff, and alumni will read selections from Envisions, her 2003 volume of poems. All festival events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule follows.

"Kathryn Morgan is an extraordinary scholar," says festival organizer Allison Dorsey, associate professor of history and coordinator of Black Studies.  "Too few students and faculty are aware of the contributions she made to the field of folklore and even fewer are aware of her work as a poet. I wanted to create something to celebrate her life's work and commemorate her legacy as a scholar and teacher."

About Kathryn Morgan
Kathryn Morgan

Kathryn Morgan

Morgan is the author of Children of Strangers, the first work of African American family folklore by a folklorist. Arriving at Swarthmore in 1970 to teach classes on oral history, folk history, and folklife, she was the first African American professor at the College and later the first African American woman to be granted tenure.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Morgan earned an M.A. from Howard University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. A former executive board member of the American Folklore Society, she has taught and spoken widely on African American folklore, history, and culture. Additional professional affiliations have included the National Council of Black Studies, the African American Folklore Association, the National Afrocentric Institute, and the Philadelphia Folklore Project, upon whose board she sat in the early 1990s.

Schedule of Events

Thurs., Apr. 2   Festival Kick-Off    
7 p.m., Bond Memorial Hall

Readings from Envisions, Professor Morgan's 2003 volume of poems, designed and illustrated by Swarthmore Professor of Studio Art Syd Carpenter.

Thurs., Apr. 9   Na Tanyá Daviná Stewart
7 p.m., Bond Memorial Hall

The latest work by Stewart, a teaching artist, writer, performer, and director, is a multi-media installation piece as part of the Philadelphia Black Women's Art Festival entitled Terror Is Umm..., which explores domestic violence from a child's perspective.

Thurs., Apr. 23   Ursula Rucker
7 p.m., Bond Memorial Hall

As one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry, Rucker has captivated critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals, and accessible poetic verse. She released her fourth album, Ruckus Soundsysdom, last year.

Thurs., Apr. 30   Yolanda Wisher
7:30 p.m., Bond Memorial Hall

A poet, singer, and cellist, Wisher has published her poetry in The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review, Drumvoices Revue 2000, Meridians, and Nocturnes, among others.

The Kathryn Morgan Spring Poetry Festival is sponsored by Black Studies, the Department of English, and the President's Office.