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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors Toni Morrison and Rita Dove to Join Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez at Drexel

October 15, 2013

Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison will participate in "Conversation and Song: Walking the Laureate Road" at Drexel

Sonia Sanchez will celebrate the end of her term as Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate with an inspirational night of personal stories, readings and live music at an event entitled “Conversation and Song: Walking the Laureate Road,” hosted by Drexel University and First Person Arts.

Joined by her friends, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize-winner Rita Dove, Sanchez will lead a conversation on what it means to be a literary luminary, the intersection of poetry and prose and how their work impacts their personal lives. Internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist and composer Ruth Naomi Floyd will perform throughout the evening.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 6 from 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. in Drexel University’s Main Auditorium (3141 Chestnut St.). Tickets are $35 and are available for purchase online. Discounted tickets are available to First Person Arts members for $28 and to Drexel students, faculty and staff for $5 with a valid Drexel ID. For questions about tickets, please contact Jacqueline Rios at 215-895-6910 or

The event is held in partnership with the Office of City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell of the 3rd District, the Africana Studies and Women’s Studies programs in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences and Dance Africa Philadelphia, and is sponsored by the Lomax Family Foundation and Fairmount Ventures.

Poet, activist, scholar Sonia Sanchez was the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University. She is the recipient of both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to the American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. One of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is the author of sixteen books, including Homegirls and Handgrenades, Does Your House Have Lions? and Morning Haiku.

Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emerita in the Humanities at Princeton University. Her 10 major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy and Home have received extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved. In 2006, Beloved was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as the best work of American fiction published in the last quarter-century.

In 1994, Morrison founded the Princeton Atelier, a program that brings professional artists to the Princeton University campus for intensive collaborative work with students and faculty. Morrison has received the Pulitzer Prize, Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the Commandeur Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, National Humanities Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress from 1993-95, making her the youngest person—and the first African-American—to receive this highest official honor in American letters. Dove also served as Poet Laureate of the State of Virginia from 2004-06. She is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Thomas and Beulah, winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize. Dove has received numerous additional honors, among them the 2011 National Medal of Arts (from President Obama), the Heinz Award, the 1996 National Humanities Medal (from President Clinton), the Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the Emily Couric Leadership Award, the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service and the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal.

Vocalist and composer Ruth Naomi Floyd leads her own multi-faceted ensemble, and her recordings consist primarily of original compositions. Critics praise Floyd’s soaring mezzo-soprano voice and her music for their distinctive sound of progressive ensemble jazz that is seamlessly blended with the gospel messages of hope, faith, redemption and love. Floyd is also an award- winning fine art photographer specializing in black and white portraits. She is a committed arts educator and has shared her knowledge of the arts in universities, seminaries, art centers and performance centers around the world. For more than 20 years she has been devoted and active in providing compassionate care and spiritual support to people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.