Poet and Activist makes her way to UMD

BY APRILL EMIG Margaret Randall_subFeminist poet and activist Margaret Randall is coming back to UMD after first visiting the campus 10 years ago. The author will be speaking about her new book and her life living in Cuba before the country opened back up to America.

Randall is this year’s Women’s History Month speaker and was selected by a committee, including people from the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC), Alworth Institute and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department (WGSS). Professor Tineke Ritmeester has been friends with Randall for years and was a key player in bringing her here.

“What is so marvelous about Margaret is she creates such a warm rapport with audiences,” Ritmeester said. “Now with Cuba opening, she becomes more perfect. Who knows more about Cuba than Margaret?”

Randall moved to Mexico from America in 1960, marrying a Mexican citizen and giving up her American citizenship. She then moved to Cuba in 1969 and lived there for over a decade before moving to Nicaragua and making it back to America after 23 years away. Much of Randall’s writing revolves around the time she spent living in these places.

“I just think the art we make reflects who we are, our experiences, our belief systems and so forth,” Randall said.

Her newest book, “Haydee Santamaria, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led By Transgression” follows the life of a woman who fought in the Cuban revolution—one of the few women to do so. Randall will be speaking about this book during her 7 p.m. lecture in Griggs Center. Joining her is partner Barbara Byers, an artist who will be sharing her art books for display and sale.

This Women’s History Month event will also involve discussions of feminism, which Randall says is inherent in everything she does.

“Obviously my poetry is from that (feminist) point of view, even though it’s not always about women,” Randall said.

She says that feminism is more than promoting equality of the sexes.

“I think of feminism as being a tool with which you look at power,” she said. “It’s certainly about the issue of men and women, but it goes far beyond that. When one group exerts power over another, something is wrong and it harms both groups—oppressors and oppressed.”

In addition to her 7 p.m. lecture, Randall will do a poetry reading at noon in Griggs Center. The event is free and open to the public.


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