Smith College to Host Reading by Cuban
Poet Nancy Morejón
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday,
Oct. 21, Smith College will host Cuban poet Nancy Morejón for
a reading in Stoddard Hall Auditorium. The event, which is free and open
to the public, is sponsored by the Smith College Poetry Center.
Morejón is the best known and most
widely translated woman poet of post-revolutionary Cuba. Born in 1944
in Havana to a militant dock worker and a trade-unionist seamstress,
Morejón was the first Afro-Cuban to graduate from Havana University,
where she majored in French, and the first black woman poet to publish
widely and be accepted as a professional writer, critic and translator.
Morejón is recipient of the Critic's Prize (1986) and Cuba's National
Prize for Literature (2001). She has collaborated with prominent musicians,
playwrights and actors and recently extended her artistic talents into
the visual arts. Currently, she directs the Caribbean Studies Center
at Casa de las Américas, Havana, epicenter of Cuban and Latin
Morejón's work addresses contemporary
issues of ethnicity, gender, history, politics and Afro-Cuban identity.
Her poems stand as vibrant reflections on the intermingling of Spanish
and African cultures in Cuba, on what it means to be a child of both
traditions, and how the bright threads of this heritage are part of the
greater web of the African experience in the Americas.
Like her mentor, the legendary poet Nicolás
Guillén, Morejón celebrates blackness but refuses to inscribe
identity or struggle within the parameters of any single factor. "I
am, at once, Nancy Morejón," she says, "an individual,
a unity, who cannot be subdivided into parts as one does when learning
math I am not more of a black person than a woman; I am not more of a
woman than a Cuban; I am not more of a black person than a Cuban. I am
a brief combustion of those factors.
"This "brief combustion" has
resulted in poems of quick fire and steadily burning flame, which are,
as poet Jayne Corte writes, "lyrical, compassionate, complex, and
dazzling in their subtleties.
"Morejón's reading here at Smith
celebrates the recent publication of "Looking Within/Mirar adentro," a
panoramic anthology representing 46 years and ten volumes of her work,
selected and introduced by the distinguished Uruguayan scholar Juanamaría
Cordones-Cook. Cordones-Cook who is on the faculty of the University
of Missouri, Columbia, will be accompanying Morejón on this book
tour and will read the English translations and provide cultural and
historical context for the work.
Morejón's visit is co-sponsored by
the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Nosotras of Smith College.
The reading will be followed by book selling and signing. For more information,
contact Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or
Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.
Office of College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174
in the News