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The Fulbright Program Presents: An Evening of Poetry

We still have our voices and we still have our pens and pencils, and those three things can create massive change

Alyea Pierce, 2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Storyteller to Trinidad and Tobago

Overview

On March 18, 2021, the Fulbright Program hosted a virtual event in celebration of World Poetry Day and the Fulbright Program’s 75th Anniversary.

Hosted by 2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Storyteller to Trinidad and Tobago and spoken word artist, Alyea Pierce, the evening kicked off with readings and reflections from 1993-1995 U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove, 1974 Fulbright U.S. Student to Germany. Rita Dove shared excerpts from her collection of poetry, Sonata Mullatica, and described how her Fulbright experience in Germany informed the work.

Alyea welcomed accomplished Fulbright poets and writers Elisa Gonzalez, Ruth Behar, and William Langford to reflect on themes raised by Rita Dove’s work and to share their own original works of poetry. The panel of Fulbright poets addressed themes of exploration and discovery stemming from their Fulbright experiences, representation in art and literature, and making an impact as an artist, scholar, and advocate. The evening concluded with readings of original works from audience members Muriel Harris, a Fulbright U.S. Scholar alumna to Ghana, Nan Jackson, a member of the Lansing Poetry Club, and Humna Naveed, a current Fulbright Foreign Student from Pakistan.

Meet the Poets

Rita Dove, is a poet, writer, 1993-1995 U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner. Her poetry has earned her fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, among others. She holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia where she has been teaching since 1989.

Alyea Pierce, Ed.M., is an educator and international performance poet who has performed her spoken word poetry internationally from the U.S. to South Africa. Her work has appeared online and in print publications, including the GuardianNew York Daily NewsCaribbean Writer, and Autism Speaks.

Ruth Behar is an anthropologist, professor, poet, writer, MacArthur “Genius” fellow and John Simon Guggenheim fellow. She is the author of the Pura Belpré Award-winning book, Lucky Broken Girl. Her new novel, Letters from Cuba, is soon to appear in Spanish as Cartas de Cuba.

Elisa Gonzalez is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award recipient. Her work appears in The New YorkerAdi MagazineMississippi ReviewThe Literary ReviewThe Boiler Journal and elsewhere.

William Langford is a poet, teaching artist, and 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year who divides his energy between education and community development projects in the U.S. and East Africa. He is pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan State University, and his work has appeared in The Detroit Neighborhood GuidebookIlanot ReviewWork/6Falling Hard and 2 Bridges Review and is forthcoming in Finishing Line Press.