Cumberland University Welcomes Haitian Poet During National Poetry Month

Cumberland University’s Creative and Professional Writing department announced Haitian poet, essayist, and translator Sony Ton-Aime as the in residence poet during National Poetry Month. While visiting Cumberland, Ton-Aime will spend time in various classes and meeting with multiple student groups, followed by a public reading of his work “Shape of Language” in the Doris and Harry Vise Library at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. 

National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to acknowledge the important role poetry has played in culture. In 2017, Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Sandee Gertz, established the Poet in Residence Series as a way to bring contemporary poets to campus. As with each Poet in Residence Series, Ton-Aime’s visit is sponsored by the Bell Family Grant, the Dr. Bill McKee Research Grant and Vise Library Speaker Series. 

“When Cumberland’s Creative Writing program launched, it was the first free standing Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing degree path in Tennessee. Our students look forward to meeting visiting poets during the month of April and other writers throughout the year,” said Professor Sandee Gertz. “As a translator, Sony will discuss the importance of translation and poetry to help gain a greater understanding of other cultures. Each in residence poet offers a unique opportunity for students to be inspired and expand their professional network.” 

Sony Ton-Aime is the Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua Institution. As such, he manages and provides administrative leadership and hands-on involvement with the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the literary journal Chautauqua, and the Poetry Makerspace.

Ton-Aime is the author of the chapbook, “LaWomann,” the Haitian Creole translation of the book “Olympic Hero: The Lennox Kilgour’s Story,” co-author of the Haitian Creole course on Duolingo, and co-founding editor of ID13 – an online publication that published creative works by inmates he led in poetry workshops at the Lake Erie Correctional Institute. His works have appeared and are forthcoming in “Brainchild,” “Artful Dodge,” “La Revista PingPong,” “The Oakland Review,” “Dunes Review,” “The Idaho Review,” “Hunger Mountain Review,” and “Cleveland Review of Books,” among others.

A native of Haiti who first came to the United State in 2010, Ton-Aime received his MFA in creative writing and poetry and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kent State University. 

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