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Bat Poems from Poetry Joeys: Round 2

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesThis 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.

To be a bat is to be as soft as velvet
or do you think it's to be named flying
or speedy?
To be a bat is to be as
smart as the earth and to be
as small as Pluto. Or is to
be an old oak tree? To
be a bat is to be a bat.

--Anika

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bat Poems from Poetry Joeys

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.

Photo Credit: Cybele KnowlesUntitled

Jonsey is a velvet pluto
In his own universe
His sound is flute in choral with a shrill screech
His color is the pitch black night coated in mud lit
an old oak tree
His feel is dim and oval
His shape is an overcoat cloud over a covered carriage
Inside this is what he is
a blossoming night shade
in the middle is a UFO
And connected to a joker
Some
How--

by Anonymous

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poetry, Performance, and the Poetry Center's Online Audio Video Library

Sarah KortemeierSarah Kortemeier has worked professionally as a poet, musician, and actor; she holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona and has taught creative writing at the elementary, high school, and university levels. Sarah has published most recently in Ploughshares, Spiral Orb, Sliver of Stone, and Folio, and was a finalist in 2011’s Gulf Coast and Tennessee Williams Festival Poetry Contests. She serves as Senior Library Assistant at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

What helps a poem to connect with an audience when it is spoken aloud? Each poet, and each listener, will answer this question differently, and there are few hard-and-fast rules that govern performance. However, many compelling performances of poetry do share a few characteristics, such as vocal energy, spontaneity, and rhythmic variation. Poems vary their textures and tempos on the page; their rhythms shift, dance, and play against one another, and effective performances usually acknowledge this, letting the text dictate the velocities and inflections of the reading.

Below is a listing of some performances from the Poetry Center's online Audio Video Library. Though each of these readers handles performance differently, all of these performances communicate both content and music.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Review of Practical Gods by Carl Dennis

Hilary GanHilary Gan is an Education Intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and is pursuing her MFA in Fiction at The University of Arizona.

Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Dennis is noted for his use of the everyday and the everyman in his poetry. He is the author many collections of poetry, including House of My Own (1974). Carl Dennis has received many awards for poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize for Practical Gods, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (2000). He is currently an artist-in-residence at SUNY Buffalo in New York.



Carl Dennis will be reading at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on November 3, 2011 at 7 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public.

Carl Dennis' Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Practical Gods (2001) is a treatise on solace. He uses biblical symbolism and Roman mythology to illustrate the post-broken moment, when you have swept up the shattered glass and now your floor is slightly cleaner but you are short one tumbler in the set.  Dennis uses everyday imagery to cement the normalcy of convalescence, but the subject matter suggests a more spiritual crisis from which his poems are recovering.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Breathless Intimacy: A Review of Philip Schultz' Failure

Christy DelehantyChristy Delahanty is a former Poetry Center intern, and recent graduate in Creative Writing and Linguistics from The University of Arizona.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz is the author of several collections of poetry, including The God of Loneliness: New and Selected Poems (2010), Failure (2007), Living in the Past (2004), and The Holy Worm of Praise (2002), all from Harcourt. In addition to the Pulitzer for Failure, his many awards include Fulbright, Guggenheim, and NEA fellowships. He is the founder/director of The Writers Studio, a private school for fiction and poetry writing based in New York City with branches in Tucson, San Francisco, and Amsterdam.

Philip Schultz will be reading at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on October 20th, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public. Join us!

The effect of Philip Schultz's 2007 collection, Failure, is an overpowering sense of fine craftsmanship and candid ambiance. With a voice plain, sure, and wholly unpretentious, he recounts smoldering moments past and present, which serve to illuminate the anxieties of family life in its varied stages. Though the title seems an epithet for "father" (both his own and the one he has become), Schultz ventures also into slices of marriage, mourns for kindred spirits of no relation, recounts the warm lamplight of one-time tenement-mates, and sings the extensive praises of canine love. In a sustained breathless intimacy, failure spans decades and coastlines ― with the New York's '70s and 2001 most heavily represented ― and oscillates between emotional insufficiency and utter wonder.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saying Something: Taking Risks with Poetry

Sarah KortemeierSarah Kortemeier holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona, and has taught creative writing at the elementary, high school, and university levels. She has published most recently with Folio: A Literary Journal at American University, where her poem "The Holdout" was selected as an Honorable Mention by guest judge Naomi Shihab Nye in Folio's 2011 Poetry Contest. Sarah serves as Library Assistant at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Sarah will be teaching an Introduction to Poetry at the Poetry Center on Saturdays at noon from October 29 through December 12.

Risk-taking, with its inherent exhilarations and discomforts, is an integral part of the human experience. And as in life, so in art: good art matters, and poetry that matters demands some vulnerability, some risk, on the part of the writer.  We all have something to say--but "saying something" often requires real bravery. In my introductory writing courses, I try to create an environment in which this kind of constructive risk-taking can happen in a secure, safe environment. Workshop is the poet's best friend: it's the place where writers can try out new ideas on a small, select audience whose main concern is to help the writer succeed. As writers, many of us need the encouragement of the workshop, the safe space and the sensitive readers we encounter there, in order to take the risks that make us better artists. In my upcoming Introduction to Poetry course, we'll encourage each other to make room for the wild associative leaps and flashes of insight that lead to inventive poem-making. We'll work together to move outside our normal patterns of speech and thought, and in the process we'll make some new music and find some exciting new poems. I hope you'll join us!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Famous Poets who went to High School in Tucson: Brenda Hillman and Mark Doty

Elizabeth FalconElizabeth Falcón is an MFA poetry student at the University of Arizona. She is also the Education Intern at the UA Poetry Center and maintains the Poetry Center's education blog, WordPlay. She is a TPAC rostered teaching artist and has taught several residencies at Corbett Elementary School in Tucson. In addition to pursuing her own writing, she aspires to help children fall in love with poetry as a teaching artist in the schools.

Brenda Hillman

I remember reading Brenda Hillman's Cascadia as a teenager, before I understood craft, before I understood much of anything about poetry, before I really discovered that I even liked poetry. Actually, it might have been that book that made me think of poetry, Maybe I like this stuff after all. Cascadia broke all the rules I had ever understood about poetry, about narrative, about making sense. What I loved about it most was that there was such a physical space carved out by the words on the page. The words used the page as a canvas, rather than being forced to fill it.  I was captivated, even though I had no context for California or the Pacific Northwest, to which the title, Cascadia, refers.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

The Light Does Not Warm: A Review of Joni Wallace's Blinking Ephemeral Valentine

Elizabeth FalconElizabeth Falcón is an MFA poetry student at the University of Arizona. She is also the Education Intern at the UA Poetry Center and maintains the Poetry Center's education blog, WordPlay. She is a TPAC rostered teaching artist and has taught several residencies at Corbett Elementary School in Tucson. In addition to pursuing her own writing, she aspires to help children fall in love with poetry as a teaching artist in the schools.

Mary Jo Bang will be reading with Joni Wallace at the Poetry Center on October 6, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.  Joni Wallace will be leading a shop talk on Mary Jo Bang's work on October 4 at 6 p.m. prior to the Oct 6. reading. Both events are free and open to the public. Join us! To read an interview between Mary Jo Bang and Joni Wallace, click here.

Joni Wallace's debut poetry collection, Blinking Ephemeral Valentine (Four Way Books, 2011), was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the 2009 Levis Prize. Joni grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and earned her MFA from the University of Montana. She lives in Tucson and is currently working on a series of poems tracking the migration paths of mule deer.

Joni Wallace's Blinking Ephemeral Valentine is one of those rare books that haunts the reader afterwards with its language, mood, and images. The poems are assemblages of lists, sounds, objects and they feel conscious of their craftedness, their objectification, artifacts for a reader to examine and dissect. Flashes of landscapes with odd collections of things from modern life--sequins, red cups, Lite Brite, boulevards, pigeons. Love blinking on and off in the cold slush of winter. Just enough narrative to grasp the moment. Anaphoric echoes. Eerie pulses of quiet and disquiet.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Banquet of Imagery: Mary Jo Bang's The Bride of E

Christy DelahantyChristy Delahanty is a former Poetry Center intern, and recent graduate in Creative Writing and Linguistics from The University of Arizona.

Mary Jo Bang will be reading with Joni Wallace at the Poetry Center on October 6, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.  Joni Wallace will be leading a shop talk on Mary Jo Bang's work on October 4 at 6 p.m. prior to the Oct 6. reading. Both events are free and open to the public. Join us! To read an interview between Mary Jo Bang and Joni Wallace, click here.

Mary Jo Bang's books of poetry include Elegy (Graywolf Press, 2007), which received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was listed as a New York Times 2008 Notable Book, and The Bride of E (Graywolf Press, 2009). She was the poetry co-editor at Boston Review from 1995-2005, and has been the recipient of the Alice Fay Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She is a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Her translation of Dante's Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, will be published by Graywolf Press in July 2012.

Perhaps the first thing to notice about Mary Jo Bang's The Bride of E is the heft of it. The book itself is slim, but the pages are dense with the poetic conventions of allusion and self-referentiality, peppered with recursion and persistent themes. What results is an intensely playful work, singing in spite of its heavier truths.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

A Conversation with Mary Jo Bang (September, 2011)

Joni WallaceInterview by Joni Wallace

Joni Wallace and Mary Jo Bang will read together at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on October 6, 2011, at 7 p.m.

Mary Jo Bang's books of poetry include Elegy (Graywolf Press, 2007), which received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was listed as a New York Times 2008 Notable Book, and The Bride of E (Graywolf Press, 2009). She was the poetry co-editor at Boston Review from 1995-2005, and has been the recipient of the Alice Fay Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She is a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Her translation of Dante's Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, will be published by Graywolf Press in July, 2012.

Joni Wallace's poetry collection, Blinking Ephemeral Valentine (Four Way Books, 2011), was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the 2009 Levis Prize.

JW:   The character driven poems of Louise in Love, the ekphrastic poems of The Eye Like a Strange Balloon and the abcedarian poems of Bride of E strike me similarly as enactments of a disembodied consciousness: the workings of the mind set out for view on a series of revolving stages. Multiple interruptions take place - ticks and tocks, ringing phones (an effect I love), nursery rhyme chatter, trains, literary texts. Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Freud, Cher and others make appearances, influence poetic outcomes.  For me your poems function both as glittering spectacles and intimate conversations, all ultimately engaging the experience of what it means to be human now.  How do you see yourself, the poet, in relation to your work?  Conductor, actor, set designer, alchemist, beautiful fly on the velvet backdrop?     

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
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