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University of Iowa News Release

April 8, 2004

Award Winning Poet Sonia Sanchez Highlights Social Movement Symposium

Sonia Sanchez, winner of the American Book Award and a prominent African-American poet, highlights the second annual B-GAPS Spoken Word Symposium April 16-18 at the University of Iowa, sponsored by the Black Graduate and Professional Student Organization.

The symposium, "Social Movement Through the Arts: Human Rights Activism and Black Leadership at the Collegiate Level," aims to bring people of all backgrounds together to discuss how poetry, hip-hip and art can be used as tools for social change. Events also include a discussion panel, a hip-hop performance, a poetry slam and a Soul Food Supper. Admission is free and open to the public.

One of Sanchez's most celebrated volumes is Homegirls & Handgrenades (1984), a collection of autobiographical prose poems that received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She has also received the Robert Frost Medal for poetry.

At the symposium, Sanchez will discuss issues related to the African American experience, women, literature and culture. Also appearing will be Naima Penniman, an East Coast performance poet who engages her art as a tool for political struggle and social change. They will perform together on Friday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Macbride Hall Auditorium, room 201.

A discussion panel titled "Social Movement through the Arts: Human Rights Activism and Black Leadership at the Collegiate Level" will be held prior to the performance in the Indiana Room (346) in the Iowa Memorial Union from 4 to 6 p.m. The panel will feature Sanchez, Penniman, India Dennis and selected UI faculty.

On Saturday, April 17, a hip-hop performance titled "Black Political Thought through Hip-Hop" will be held at 7 p.m. in the Papajohn Business Building Auditorium (room W10). The performance will feature Chicago artists SB) and Iowa City artists Animosity.

The symposium wraps up Sunday, April 18, with a Poetry Slam and Soul Food Supper at 5 p.m. at the Afro-American Cultural Center, 303 Melrose Ave. Poets are encouraged to sign up early and will be judged by the visiting performers. Prizes will be given to the winners and many door prizes will be raffled off as well.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,