DORA E. MCQUAID
Activist, Speaker and Teacher
Dora E. McQuaid is descendant of traveling gypsies, Irish Golden-gloved boxers, and strong women, whose stories and the telling of them prompted her lifelong fascination with the written and spoken word. Dora continues her family tradition of using the personal story to explore memory and conjecture, culture and community, and the intersections between the private and the political.
Her unique blend of art, emotion and service has earned her multiple service and literary awards and honors. Dora’s dedication to addressing the issues of sexual and domestic violence through poetry, performance and activism was honored in 2012 by her image replacing that of former Penn State football coach and convicted child sex offender, Jerry Sandusky, in the Inspirations Mural by artist Michael Pilato of the Public Art Academy in State College, Pennsylvania, where Penn State is located. Gargoyle Literary Journal nominated Dora’s poem, Tunnel of Love, for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. Dora was honored as one of the Remarkable Women of Taos, New Mexico during the 2012 yearlong celebration of women whose lives and creative spirits have influenced the Northern New Mexico community. She was also awarded the 2011 New Mexico Woman Writerʼs Fellowship by A Room of Her Own Foundation. Additionally, Dora’s efforts garnered the 2003 Pennsylvania Governor’s Pathfinder Award, recognition by the Pennsylvania Senate and a Vagina Warrior Award from the Penn State cast of Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues, all while serving as faculty at Penn State between 1999 and 2006. She has been awarded a number of Poet-In-Residence and Fellowship positions, including The Harwood Museum of Art and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, among others.
Dora’s first collection of poems, the scorched earth, and its audio companion, the scorched earth: spoken, was released as an Expanded, Second Edition in 2015 by award-winning Baskerville Publishers, with the Foreword written by Eve Ensler, Tony Award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues and founder of the international V-DAY Foundation and the global One Billion Rising event. Eve Ensler calls this collection “…startling and visionary…” as it documents Dora’s journey from victimization to survivorship, through healing from both sexual and domestic violence into empowerment and advocacy as an award-winning poet, activist, speaker and teacher.
Dora performs, speaks and teaches internationally in venues as varied as men’s and women’s prisons, justice and outreach programs, political rallies and community events, universities and high schools, churches and shelters, as well as television and radio programs and professional and academic conferences. She has collaborated nationally with an array of other artists, ranging from writers, poets and performers, to musicians and songwriters and visual artists working in various mediums, including the pioneering Ekphrasis poets and artists of Taos, New Mexico.
Dora currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness, which is affiliated with the University of New Mexico-Taos, and The Council for Hope and Healing, which she co-founded in 2012 with a group of international artists and activists to address healing, empowerment and community development through the Arts. Additionally, Dora serves as consultant and expert witness in sexual violence legal cases in the United States court systems, establishing offender liability and the effects of violence that victims often experience.
Dora’s work has been published in anthologies, films, plays, musical compositions, literary journals and magazines, required course readings, law enforcement training programs, as well as posters, calendars and greeting cards. The poem, Around This Table, which Dora was commissioned to write in 2001 for the 25th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is available in poster form, which benefits The Memorial Fund for women lost in domestic violence homicides. Kate Bogle’s short film, One Woman’s Voice, which documents Dora’s combined roles as poet, teacher and survivor/activist, is used internationally as a teaching and training tool in colleges, universities, prisons, outreach and judicial programs, among others.
Doraʼs next collection of poems, SEVEN: Poems of The Interim, is forthcoming.
The above photo was taken of Dora At One Billion Rising in Taos, NM, Valentine’s Day 2013. One Billion Rising is award-winning playwright Eve Ensler’s and her V-Day Foundation’s Global Flash Mob Dance in which one billion women and girls dance together around the world in a joyful declaration of ending the violence that far too many of us have known. I wore pink because it is my mother’s favorite color and to honor her, as she is a survivor, too. Photo credit to Daphne Thomas.