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Education intern

Reflections of a 49-year-old Intern

Tim DykeFor the past two years, Tim Dyke has been one our wonderful Education Interns. He's recently graduated from The University of Arizona with his MFA in Fiction, and will be returning to his Hawaii homeland to teach. We will miss him dearly.          

Even if I am the world’s oldest intern, I still am glad that I have had the opportunity to work at the Poetry Center for the past two years. In the spring of 2010, I made the decision to leave Honolulu, Hawaii, where I had lived and worked as a high school English teacher for 18 years. I would travel to Tucson, AZ, a place I’d never been before. I’d enroll in the Creative Writing graduate program to pursue an MFA degree in fiction writing.  In order to augment my funding support, I applied to be an Education Intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. I still remember the interview. I hadn’t had to apply for a job in almost two decades, and then all of a sudden there I was: I remember sitting in my friend’s office, borrowing his phone as I talked to the Poetry Center staff about joining them that upcoming autumn.

Two years later I am all set to graduate. With the support of the Creative Writing faculty and my classmates in workshop, I have produced a novel manuscript and have read and learned so much about fiction writing. 

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Monday, April 23, 2012

This Fortnight in Poetry Education: National Library Week

Hilary GanHilary Gan is an Education Intern, and an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Arizona.

First things first:  April is National Poetry Month, and this week is National Library Week!  It's like a Turducken for poetry lovers.  Our own Alison Hawthorne Deming and Norman Dubie are two of poets.org's featured poets, along with UA-alumnus-turned-ASU-faculty Alberto Rios.

Teachers can find National Poetry Month tips for incorporating poetry into the classroom here; feel free to check out the Poetry Center's lesson plan library here.

Brad Meltzer's article on the unsung heroics of school librarians at The Huffington Post is making the rounds, and you have until April 11 to participate in the six-word story contest hosted by atyourlibrary.org.

Gerry LaFemina claims that poetry in American is experiencing another Golden Age.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Pioneers in Word and Deed

Tim DykeTim Dyke is pursuing his MFA in Fiction at The University of Arizona. He's also an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

As an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, I'd like to think that if a school group wants to schedule a field trip for a particular purpose, the inventive educators here will be albe to create a program that can accomodate them. When teachers from a local Tucson elementary school asked if they could visit the library to see the exhibit on Sharlot hall and Hattie Lockett, I said, "Of course." When I wasa told that the next Thursday morning would bring 25 Kindergartners and first graders to the Poetry Center, I anticipated a fun time. I also wondered what exactly a five-year-old or a six-year-old could appreciate about an exhibit that featured poets from Arizona's historical past. What could we do for their field trip that would be useful, fun and enlightening?

To plan the field trip, I began by consulting the Poetry Center website. According to the information provided, Sharlot Mabridth Hall and Hattie Greene Lockett lived and worked at the turn of the 20th Century. Members of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, both Hall and Lockett were "women of thought and action, pioneers in word and deed." On the morning of March 8th, I stood around a library case with an eager group of five and six year olds. We stared at leather journals and photographs of an Arizona that might no longer exist. How did I connect the lives of these pioneer women to the lives of these young visitors? Well, I'd like to think that I began by viewing these students as explorers in their own right. I'd like to think I considered them to be children of thought and action, young pioneers of word and deed.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

This Fortnight In Poetry Education: Poetry Out Loud, Video Performances, and Teaching Opportunities

Hilary GanHilary Gan is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, an Education Intern at The University of Arizona Poetry Center, and writer-in-residence at Hollinger Elementary.

I was lucky enough to be present for the Poetry Out Loud Southern Arizona Semi-finals competition--I even scored a seat by the outdoor propane heater for the last half. I am a fiction writer who knows very little about poetry and who tends to favor the out-of-vogue and terribly inappropriate narrative poetic stylings of Charles Bukowski. I like it when ugly language is repurposed into something beautiful, and I like finding beauty in grittiness.

My mother is an English teacher and says that the best poems for high schoolers are the old, tried-and-true sentimental poems: 'O Captain, My Captain!" and so forth. Sentimental rhymers were the poems most of the students chose to perform.

Robert Oliphant argues in his article "Speech, Hearing, and America's 100 Most Memorable Children's Poems" that the memorization of poetry helps children develop phonemic awareness, learn multiple connotations for words, and become "civilizationally literate."  He goes on to explain that rhymes allow children to practice distinguishing between consonants, while literary devices use words in different contexts and allow students to expand their understanding of meaning, as well as expanding their vocabulary to include words that are uncommon in their neck of the woods.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jeffrey Yang: Global Juxtaposition

An AquariumJeffrey 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...'"

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Literature as Hypothesis

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.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Encountering Emily: A Close Reading of "Hope is the thing with feathers"

Timothy DykeTimothy 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. 

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Monday, November 28, 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

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
Arizona Board of Regents