In Her Own Words

Ursula Rucker

An Interview with Philadelphia Poet, Ursula Rucker

About Her Original Work “My Father’s Daughter” 


by Samira Ford, NFT Staff

Can I have your name and what you do?
My name is Ursula Rucker, and I’m a poet, an activist, and recording artist.

Will you give a brief description of My Father’s Daughter?
My father’s daughter is essentially a live memoir-slash-live epic poem, and it’s primarily about my mother’s hard life. Within that story, our lives are kind of juxtaposed. [It speaks on] how that harsh life informed my life, how I’m on a journey of understanding and navigating through that life, but most of all healing. So, it’s a story of self-healing and survival.

What made you want to tell this story?
There’s a little story that goes with it. Twenty years ago, when I was still living at home with my parents, my father was arguing with my mother as he often did, and demeaning her as he often did. I was grown, I was an adult, and he said to me “You’re so much like me. You’re your father’s daughter.” My mother said to him, “What about my father’s daughter? You never took care of her.” It resonated with me, stuck with me, and I wanted to somehow articulately address how it did.

My Father’s Daughter serves as a memoir for your mother, and is a story that would have been otherwise untold had you not written it. What other stories do you believe have not been told yet, even though they need to be?
I think if we’re talking generally, every story has been told, but personally for me this one has not been. I have other stories that have not been told—but I’ll wait before telling them because to tell this one was difficult. But, generally, I don’t think there’s anything brand new under the sun. It’s just that, if I’m telling a story, whether it be mine or someone else’s, it’s probable that it won’t be told the way I would tell it. Everyone has their own voice and way of translating a story.

Why should we be excited about My Father’s Daughter?
I can’t really tell someone why they should be excited about what I’m doing, but find out what it’s about. It is intensely authentic and sincere and honest and raw and I think this is a beautiful necessary story. People can relate to having something in their lives that they haven’t dealt with.

Any closing comments or remarks?
Only that I’m looking forward to doing this at the Freedom Theatre. I don’t think I’ve done a whole piece—I think I’ve done a poem or two—at the Freedom Theatre, so this is my first time doing an entire piece.