Iowa Poet Laureate at SCC

Mary Swander, Iowa Poet LaureateIowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander will be appearing at Scott Community College, 500 Belmont Road, Bettendorf, on April 15 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. She will be discussing Poetry in Contemporary Society and illustrating her presentation with her original work and banjo playing. Her presentation is free of charge and will be held in the college’s Student Life Center.

Swander was appointed as the state’s poet laureate in 2009 by then-Governor Chet Culver. She has won numerous awards including an Iowa Author’s Award (2006), a Whiting Award (1994), a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the Literary Arts ( 1986), two Ingram Merrill Awards (1980, 1986), the Carl Sandburg Literary Award ( 1981), and the Nation-Discovery Award ( 1976).

Publisher’s Weekly named her book, Parsnips in the Snow, one of the best books of 1990 and the Garden Writers Association of America awarded Swander their Quill and Trowel Award for best magazine writing of 1993. Her memoir, The Desert Pilgrim (2003), was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.

Swander’s most recent work is a book of poetry, The Girls on the Roof, a Mississippi River flood narrative. Swander has worked with the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre to create a performance piece of The Girls for the stage.

Currently, Swander is also touring her play Farmscape, a docudrama capturing the changing rural environment, and Vang, a drama about recent immigrant farmers. She is the co-founder of Agarts, a national group designed to explore the intersection of the arts and agriculture.

Swander published Farmscape in 2012. The book contains the play and a collection of essays about the production and the food movement by such writers as Anna Lappe and Fred Kirschenmann.

Swander has published individual poems, essays, short stories and articles in such places as The Nation, National Gardening Magazine, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Poetry magazine.

She received her Master in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. She is a professor of English and a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. She lives in an old Amish schoolhouse, raises geese, goats and a large organic garden, and plays the banjo.

Her appearance was made possible by a grant from Humanities Iowa and its Iowa Community Cultural Grant program. It is being presented by Scott Community College’s Fine Arts Committee. Scott Community College is one of the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.