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  • Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Class of 1942 Garden, Penn campus, and on YouTube

Hosted by: Herman Beavers (Professor of English & African Studies, Director of Civic House), with general introduction by David Wallace (Center for Italian Studies)

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Since 1865, and long before, the Divine Comedy of Dante (1265-1321) has inspired and challenged African American writers; Frederick Douglass kept a portrait of the poet in his library. Now in 2021, 700 years after Dante's death, four poets — from a variety of backgrounds and poetic traditions — gather for fresh engagements: Nathalie Anderson, Nzadi Keita, Benjamin Krusling, and Tracie Morris.

This event is co-sponsored by The Center for Africana Studies, The Creative Writing Program, Comparative Literature, the Department of English, and Italian Studies.

Nathalie Anderson is a poet, librettist, and educator based in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her books of poetry include Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, Quiver, Stain, and the chapbook Held and Firmly Bound. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Atlanta Review, DoubleTake, Natural Bridge, The New Yorker, Nimrod, and Plume; and she has authored libretti for five operas in collaboration with Philadelphia composer Thomas Whitman. She also manages the list-serv Lit-Philly. A 1993 Pew Fellow, she has recently retired from Swarthmore College, where she taught as a professor in the Department of English Literature for 39 years, and directed the Program in Creative Writing.

M. Nzadi Keita is a poet, essayist, and scholar. Her collection, Brief Evidence of Heaven, sheds light on Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass's first wife. Publications including Poet Lore journal and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South have featured her work. Keita is a Cave Canem alumna and a Pew Fellow in Poetry. She also co-coordinates an African-American/Africana Studies Program at Ursinus College, where she is a Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Benjamin Krusling is a writer and artist who works in sound and language. The author of a book of poems, Glaring (Wendy's Subway, 2020), a chapbook, GRAPES (Projective Industries, 2018), and a digital chapbook, "I have too much to hide," (Triple Canopy, 2021), he received his MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, is a PhD candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and lives in Brooklyn.

Tracie Morris is writer/editor of 10 books. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from CUNY Hunter College and a PhD in Performance Studies from NYU. Her poetry, scholarly and performance work has been extensively anthologized, performed and recorded around the world. Tracie is an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist, a former CPCW Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania and a former Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Fellow at Harvard University. Tracie serves as the first African-American Professor of Poetry at The Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2021, she became an awardee of the Guggenheim Fellowship.

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