Mary Swander will lecture at Upper Iowa University, as well as present her two-person play, "Vang," as part of the Midwestern Literary Project on March 27.
FAYETTE, Iowa (March 13, 2014) – Creating a conversation and inviting an audience to engage – this is how Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander describes her two-person play, Vang, which highlights the challenges and successes of present-day immigrant farmers in the Midwest. Vang will be performed at the Student Center on Upper Iowa University's Fayette campus Thursday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. The performance will cap the day-long Midwestern Literary Project hosted on campus by UIU's Writing Center and School of Liberal Arts.
Swander, a playwright and novelist, is a fourth-generation Iowan and a distinguished professor of English at Iowa State University. In 2009, she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa. She has published three books of poetry, her memoirs and co-authored the musical, Dear Iowa. Her awards include the Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the Literary Arts, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and the Nation-Discovery Award.
Swander worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Dennis Chamberlain and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival award-winner Matt Foss to create Vang, which means "garden" or "farm" in Hmong. Swander and Chamberlain interviewed and photographed recent Iowa immigrant farmers from many countries. Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the farmers' journeys to the United States, as well as their challenges and successes as new farmers.
While at UIU, Swander also will visit with Upper Iowa students in Dr. Doug McReynolds' poetry class to share her process from forming an idea to having the work published.
"We are pleased to host Iowa's Poet Laureate Mary Swander for this year's Midwestern Literary Project," said Caroline Ledeboer, director of the UIU Writing Center. "She has a very unique way of engaging a community in dialogue to bring awareness of the lives and struggles of its members that may not be readily known. This is an amazing opportunity for Upper Iowa students and the surrounding communities to engage in a conversation about farming in Iowa and to experience her talent firsthand."
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 6,200 students – nationally and internationally – at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.
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