Union County, NJ – April 26, 2022 — In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Union County Board of County Commissioners invites poetry lovers and American history enthusiasts to attend “Women Poets of the Revolution,” a free lecture on the works of Annis Boudinot Stockton and Phillis Wheatly hosted by Dr. Mary McAleer Balkun, Professor of English at Seton Hall University, at the New Providence Memorial Library at 377 Elkwood Avenue in New Providence on Tuesday, April 26, at 6:00 p.m.
The event is presented free of charge by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required to reserve a seat at ucnj.org/cultural.
“National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, and we are very proud to provide the Union County community with an opportunity to participate and learn about the contributions of two important women poets in American history,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.
The early American poets Annis Boudinot Stockton and Phillis Wheatley came from starkly different backgrounds to offer their own unique, eyewitness perspectives on the American Revolution, during a period in history when women literary figures were all but invisible.
Stockton was born into the privileged, elite social circle of Princeton, New Jersey. Unlike many women of her time, she had both the opportunity and the inclination to apply herself to the art of writing. She was producing sophisticated poetry by age 16. At age 21 she married the lawyer Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Annis Stockton supported the Continental Army with funds raised from publishing her poetry, in which she documented key episodes in the war and memorialized the leadership of George Washington.
Wheatley was kidnapped from her home in Africa and brought to the Colonies as an enslaved child in 1761. By age 14 she was an accomplished student of the Greek and Roman classics, as well as British literature, astronomy, and geography. By 1770 she was an acclaimed poet. When her first collection of poems was published in 1773, she was one of the first two women in America to have a book of poetry in print, and she was the first Black woman to have a book of any kind published in America.
Dr. Balkun is a Professor of English and Director of Faculty Development at Seton Hall University in South Orange. She earned her PhD. from New York University, and has an M.A. from Seton Hall University and a B.A. from Jersey City University. Her accomplishments include the 2017 Steven J. Rosen Mentor Award of the New Jersey College English Association, and the 2016 Bernard J. McQuaid Medal for Distinguished Service from Seton Hall University.
National Poetry Month is a project of the Academy of American Poets. Since its inception in April 1996, National Poetry Month has grown into an event celebrated by tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families and poets each year, signifying the importance of poetry in human life across the world. For more details visit poets.org/national-poetry-month.
Women Poets of the Revolution is funded in part by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State. For more information about other history events presented by Union County, contact John Prescott, History Program Coordinator at the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-436-2912 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs is an office of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation. For information on all programs of the Office, visit ucnj.org/cultural, email email@example.com, or call 908-558-2550.
For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
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