The Reading for Unity was held on April 1, 2017. Arranged by the English Staff of Widener and hosted by Professor Michael Cocchiarale, the event invited undergraduates from other local colleges to read inspiring literary works on social justice. The purpose of this reading was to combat the recurring news involving tension and prejudice currently going on across the U.S., and to emphasize the importance of literature and its impact on humanity.
Cocchiarale opened the event, stating, “with the sense of contention in the atmosphere of our country, the best way to combat it is to let voices be heard.” Iyanna Rosado, Kelsey Styles, Jennifer Rohrbach and Jasmine Kouyate from Widener, Maya Arthur and Michaela Kotziers from the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew Nguyen from Haverford College, and Natalie Kawam from Bryn Mawr College all read pieces of their own choosing, including works and excerpts from Audre Lorde, Fady Joudah, James Baldwin and Virginia Woolf.
When asked about her experience in the field of English, Rosado said that “When I was in high school, I used to write a lot of poetry, but once I got into college, I stopped writing a lot… currently I write essays, papers, and I’m editing a story I wrote.”
Arthur said, “I enjoy writing as a necessity and passion.”
Nguyen said, “I’ve spent a lot of my time since high school and college writing. I’ve liked writing for a while and will keep loving it.”
Widener professor Kenneth Pobo closed out the afternoon with a reading of his own selected poems, many of which spoke to the day’s theme of social justice. Other poems depicted the beauty of nature and warned against taking the environment for granted.
Emma Irving, a Widener English major who attended the reading, spoke highly of the event. “Coming together with new people from all these schools and hearing different voices opened my eyes to all the old and new art that is recently coming to life in this heated political world.”