Stories Beget Stories
An Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame 2022 honoree, Mary Swander is the Artistic Director of Swander Woman Productions, a theatre troupe that performs dramas about food, farming, and the wider rural environment. She tours her dramas, including The Girls on the Roof, Vang, Map of my Kingdom, and Farm-to-Fork Tales, from coast-to-coast and gives solo performances of her own work, playing the banjo, the harmonica and the spoons. Her most recent play, Squatters on Red Earth, about the white settler land grab from the Native Americans, will go on the road in summer, 2023. She is also the Executive Director of AgArts, a nonprofit designed to imagine and promote healthy food systems through the arts.
The former Poet Laureate of Iowa, Swander is an award-winning author and has published scores of books of poetry and nonfiction as well as essays, magazine articles, individual poems and radio commentaries in such places as National Public Radio, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, and Poetry Magazine. She is a member of the Iowa Writers Collaborative, founded Blazing Star Literary Journal and recently began a podcast, AgArts in Horse and Buggy Land. Swander taught creative writing for thirty years at Iowa State University, and she now gives workshops on poetry, nonfiction and playwriting, as well as farmland transition, for other colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations. In Kalona, Iowa (Kickapoo territory), Swander lives in an old Amish one-room schoolhouse, raises goats and has a large organic garden where she grows most of her own food.