In Praise of Legacy: Writers of Color and the Challenge of the Canon

Room 2503AB, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, February 8, 2024
9:00 am to 10:15 am


The word “canon” in literary studies was intended to refer to humanity’s greatest writings—those which all "educated" people should know. Thanks to the work of critics and scholars of color, however, we are now able to recognize the exclusions, the silences, and the gaps that exist in the traditional concept of the canon. The four poets/professors on this panel will read poems and discuss how to explore, expand, and explode the literary canon in one's work and in the classroom.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: In_Praise_of_Legacy_Panel_Outline.pdf



Michael Mercurio lives and writes in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. He serves as the director of community engagement for the nonprofit Faraday Publishing Company, working to center the voices and perspectives of the global majority through panels, readings, and workshops.

Enzo Silon Surin is a Haitian-born, award-winning poet, educator, publisher, librettist, and social advocate. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including his most recent book, American Scapegoat, and the twenty-first annual Massachusetts Book Award winner, When My Body Was A Clinched Fist.

Nathan McClain is the author of Previously Owned (2022) and Scale (2017), both from Four Way Books. He is a graduate from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson and a Cave Canem fellow. He currently teaches at Hampshire College and serves as poetry editor for the Massachusetts Review.

Kenzie Allen is a Haudenosaunee poet and multimodal artist. She is the author of Cloud Missives (Tin House, 2024). The recipient of a 92Y Discovery Prize and a James Welch Prize for Indigenous Poets, she teaches at York University in Toronto, and she is a descendant of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

Rita Banerjee is an assistant professor of creative writing and director of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Echo in Four Beats, CREDO, and A Night with Kali. She received a VAC 2022 Creation Grant, and her work appears in Poets & Writers, VPR, The Rumpus, VIDA, and LARB.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center