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must be careful
when he looks
at a book.
-Porter, 5 1/2
Blue is the sound of rain. Ag is
the sound of a tired rock. My
favorite sound is Zoom and
the ocean's favorite music
is rock 'n' roll.
Jeffrey Yang is a poet and editor at New Directions Publishing. He received the 2009 PEN/Osterweil Award for his poetry collection, An Aquarium, and will be reading at the Poetry Center on Thursday, February 2.
Jeffrey Yang's An Aquarium makes us of facts, etymologies, and politics from around the globe to create a farily realistic two-dimensional version of the book's namesake. Using an alphabetical list of fish and characters such as Aristotle, Google, and the United States, Yang structures a criticism of the worst parts of human nature on a global scale. In the context of the idea of an aquarium, the metaphor of that policy as an aquarium's acquisition of foreign and endangered species for academic benefit is not lost, and is at its clearest the final poem, "Zooxanthellae," where Yang describes the atomic tests done in Bikin Atoll in the 1940s by the United States, and the subsequent studies done on those exposed to the radiation:
"In the following years, doctors from Brookhaven National Laboratory, run by the U.S. department of energy, carefully documented the 'most ecological radiation study on human beings...'"
Hilary Gan is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Hollinger Elementary.
Before I started my MFA in creative writing at the University of Arizona, I worked for two years in science outreach through the Arizona Science Center. I traveled around the state, visiting schools, clubs, and libraries with our portable science kits and demonstrations, trying to spark the public's interest in science and its many applications. I learned a number of crucial lessons, including not to chew gum when handling liquid nitrogen, but one of the more frustrating ones was how difficult it is to change the public perception of science as a field which requires a great deal of education to understand. The students were a little more pliable when it came to convincing them that they were already scientists; it was the adults that were brick walls. I can't tell you how many times an instructor or somebody's mom would come up to me after a program and say, "That was so much fun; I wish I could do more of that with my kids, but I'm so bad at science." If I tried to point out that they had just easily understood the basics of electron motion through copper wire or the basic functions of the digestive system, they demurred and shut down. "I just don't get science," is the common refrain of most teachers with no formal training, and it is, quite simply, not true. You do get it--you just don't know it yet.
The Poetry Center's Poet-in-Residence Elizabeth Falcón recites "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yates on November 19th as a part of the Poetry Out Loud Professional Development session for teachers. We encourage teachers and students to view and use these as an example of a strong recitation when preparing for the National Poetry Out Loud competitions at the school, regional, and state levels.
The Poetry Center's Poet-in-Residence Matthew Conley recites "Kindness" by Yusef Komunyakaa on November 19th as a part of the Poetry Out Loud Professional Development session for teachers. We encourage teachers and students to view and use these as an example of a strong recitation when preparing for the National Poetry Out Loud competitions at the school, regional, and state levels.
When participating in the National Poetry Out Loud competition, selecting a poem to memorize and recite is an important decision. Students who have stories to tell about why they select the poems they do at the regional finals really demonstrate how having a connection--and not necessarily a personal one--to a text can make learning and working with that poem more enjoyable and produce a compelling performance. One of the goals the Poetry Center has in serving as a regional partner for this national program, is to set students up to help them start to have a conversation with their poem. This conversation invariably starts early in the poem selection process. Leaving students plenty of time to read broadly is essential to fostering these connections with the text.
Beth Alvarado is the author of a memoir entitled Anthropologies (University of Iowa Press, 2011) and a collection of short stories titled Not a Matter of Love (New Rivers, 2006). She lives in Tucson where, with her husband Fernando, she raised two children. She teaches at the University of Arizona and is the fiction editor for Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.
Beth Alvarado will be reading at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on Monday, December 5 at 7 p.m., along with Christopher Cokinos. The reading is free and open to the public.
PC: How or why did you begin writing "Emily's Exit?"
Alvarado: Several things had to come together for me to write this story. One semester I had a very religious student who would sit in my office for hours every week trying to convert me to her particular beliefs. Now I really liked this student and I knew she liked me because she was concerned about my soul. She was very smart and I found it interesting to talk to her about her beliefs but, after a while, I started wondering why she was so anxious to go to heaven. I mean, I've always wondered what could be better about heaven than earth because I find the earth so beautiful.
Timothy Dyke is a fiction writer and MFA candidate at the University of Arizona. He currently holds the field trip internship position at the Poetry Center, leading and creating content for field trips for students of all ages.
During October and November, two groups of students from Tucson High School visited the Poetry Center for field trip experiences focusing on the work of Emily Dickinson. As a writer, reader and teacher, of course I was delighted to converse with young people about the poetry of this great American writer. As an education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, I found myself confronted with this question: what can Emily Dickinson mean to teenagers in Tucson today in 2011?
There are, of course, answers to this question. Some educators might focus on the biography of Dickinson. Perhaps students would draw inspiration from learning about this original and independent woman who refused to allow society's expectations to hinder her dreams of personal expression.
The Poetry Center's Poet-in-Residence Logan Phillips recites "Eagle Poem," by Joy Harjo, on November 19th as a part of the Poetry Out Loud Professional Development session for teachers. We encourage teachers and students to view and use these as an example of a strong recitation when preparing for the National Poetry Out Loud competitions at the school, regional, and state levels.
This poem was written in a Poetry Joeys workshop, taught by Joni Wallace. Based on the poem, "Stone," by Charles Simic, students explored what it would be like to be inside a bat. Poetry Joeys is our free writing workshop for youth, offered once a month on Saturdays through the UA Poetry Center Family Days Program.
you can hear the noisy flute
the whole universe. be blind wicked
things the poisoned apples
are on the trees
Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles