MTSU is donning laurels by association today as three university-affiliated artists — dancer and professor Meg Brooker, actor and aerospace alumnus Cameron L. Mitchell, and poet and professor Amie Whittemore — begin their year as Murfreesboro Cultural Arts Laureates.
The Murfreesboro Cultural Arts Laureate Program, part of the Cultural Arts Murfreesboro program of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation, began in 2017 and chooses at least three local artists for a year of service to the community.
The laureates receive a $500 stipend and extensive opportunities through their yearlong appointment to educate, advocate for and represent the community through their own creative initiatives.
Dance laureate Brooker, an associate professor and director of the MTSU Dance Program, specializes in the early modern dance practices of Isadora Duncan and Florence Fleming Noyes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Also the artistic director for Duncan Dance South, Brooker has performed in national and international venues throughout the United States and in Europe and Russia and frequently creates new work with MTSU dance majors.
A video that includes Brooker discussing the MTSU Dance Program is available below.
Acting laureate Mitchell earned his MTSU Department of Aerospace degree with a flight-dispatch concentration in 2013. After studying in Japan, he discovered a passion to engage the community as a spoken-word artist and actor.
Along with teaching poetry and mentoring young poets through the Nashville arts nonprofit Southern Word, Mitchell acts in plays at the Nashville Children’s Theatre and has made presentations at conferences for Vanderbilt University, the NAACP and Creative Exchange.
A video of one of Mitchell’s performances is available below.
Poetry laureate Whittemore is marking her second year in the role as Murfreesboro’s honoree. Also a Poet Laureate Fellow of the Academy of American Poets, she teaches first-year composition, general education literature and creative writing courses in MTSU’s Department of English.
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Her acclaimed poetry collection, “Glass Harvest,” was published in 2016, and her award-winning poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review, Blackbird, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week and Cold Mountain Review. Whittemore is also the reviews editor at Southern Indiana Review literary magazine and holds an undergraduate degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and master’s degrees from Lewis & Clark College and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
A video of Whittemore reading one of her pandemic-focused poems is available below.
Organizers for the Cultural Arts Laureate Program expanded the range of eligible artists for 2021 applicants. This year’s honorees came from a pool of artists who applied in the performing arts and visual arts categories.
Next year, the current poet laureate category will be changed to “literary arts laureate” to include more artists, according to the program organizers.
For more information about the Murfreesboro Cultural Arts Laureate Program, including submitting an application for 2022, visit www.murfreesboroparks.com or contact Deb Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)