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Joni Wallace Recommends...

Joni WallaceJoni Wallace recommends…

1.  Alphabet Poem, Nonsense Alphabet, Edward Lear, The complete Verse and Other Nonsense, Penguin Books, 2002.

Lear’s abecedarians slyly introduce symbol, i.e. letter as sound, stage, scaffold, prop and actor in a kind of Jack and Jill tumbler. Kindergarten.

2, 3. Snow Piece and Drinking Piece for Orchestra, Yoko Ono, Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings, Simon and Schuster (2000).

Ono shows – never tells – how to hear with the acutest ear, how to see with that same eye, how to be listener, artist, poet. Each piece is an irresistible invitation to imagine. Get the book. You’ll fall in love. Kindergarten and up.

4. Maggie and Milly and Molly and Mae, e.e. cummings, The Complete Poems: 1904-1962, Liverwright Publishing Corporation, 1991.

“All that we call the world is the shadow of that substance which you are,” wrote Emerson. Each of four girls finds self-reflection in the sea. Grades 3 – 5, particularly girls.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Introducing Guest Blogger: Zaza Karaim

Zaza KaraimZaza Karaim is thirteen years old and will be entering eighth grade at St. Michael's Parish Day School this coming fall. She loves writing poetry and playing guitar. Zaza volunteered this past summer at the Poetry Center's Creative Writing Camp. Below are a selection of her poems that she has graciously shared with Wordplay. Keep an eye out for more blog posts and poetry from Zaza in the next couple months.

The Ocean

the ocean is calm
but the waves are crouching tigers
waiting to spring and slap the shore

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mongolian Poetry

John DwyerJohn Dwyer is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and blogger for The Good Men Project.  He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Mongolian Poem - White Mountains

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Monday, April 2, 2012


Rita OldhamRita Oldham is a senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Education.

My mom was a teacher, and she would often come home from school with stories to tell. Listening to her made me feel as if I was watching a TV series. I grew to love the unique characters that filled her classroom, and I felt that I knew each one as if they were my closest friend. Yet, I rarely met them. They were simply a figure of my imagination, an idea of what I hoped them to be. Each student was different in their own way, and had their own struggles and triumphs, yet each touched my mom's heart. Somehow, despite the craziness of each day, my mom would come home inspired and reassured that she was in the right place in her life. I was in awe.

Years later, I was interning at an elementary school and I was...in agony. I wasn't sure where my mom's angel of inspiration had come from, but it was definitely not with me. Kids were flying from wall to wall. I had to jump from desk to desk, dodging the bullets of pens and pencils. I was anything but inspired. I came home exasperated, distressed, and plagued with emotional and mental fatigue. I whimpered to my mom, "I thought you said teaching was rewarding, invigorating, and life-changing. You never told me it was a fight for survival...literally!" My mom smiled at my statement, oblivious to my serious undertone. She only replied, "Stop looking for a moment of reward. The prize comes when you least expect it." And, as always, my mom was right.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Review of Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge

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

It takes a certain attuned perspective to see "a strange maroon pelt" where a "vinyl coat in the car door" really is. Or "red math" for a digital clock. It is this propensity for the eerie everyday that lends Paul Guest's poetry a special slant. His most recent collection of poetry, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, offers a dark look at everything from coupons and monsters to the etymology of galoshes.

Though most of what you'll find written about Guest and his poetry pushes the sad fact of his permanent childhood paralysis as a sort of map key to his writing, such singular pointing misses a wealth of nuance. Namely, it misses Guest's ability to take imaginative jaunts to a refreshing - if absurd - extreme, which cannot be narrowly attributed to what the book jacket calls "a life forever altered."Neither can the specific but applicable shards of historical knowledge be named symptoms of tragedy; lines like "better to cover you / beside the eastern sea / with lapidary jade / fat emperors ate hoping not to die" pile in like trivia into a treasure box.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Poetry Experience

On Saturday, I came to work an hour late. My manager asked me why I was so late, and I said, "I'm sorry, I was volunteering at the Poetry Center." His response was, "There's a center for poetry?" This had not been the first time I had received that response, and it probably won't be the last.  As an English major, I have read many different poets, but most people hardly ever focus on poetry. Some even go as far as saying poetry is a dead art, but what I saw at the Poetry Center today proved that poetry is still alive, and will continue to grow for future generations. There are people out there who still see the importance of poetry, and they want to spread their vision to the next generation. The biggest problem with poetry is that most people are ill-informed on the subject. Most people hear the word poetry, and think of rhyming and exalted speech, but poetry is so much more than this, and it is through events, like Family Days at the Poetry Center, that teach the public about poetry.

Family Days


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Monday, March 5, 2012

A Review of The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe

Erin LiskiewiczErin Liskiewicz is the marketing and publicity intern at the UA Poetry Center, and a creative writing senior at the University of Arizona, specializing in nonfiction. She will be graduating this spring.

Marie Howe is an American poet and professor at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. Howe was a fellow at the Buntin Institute at Radcliffe College, and also received the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in 1992 and the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. Her works have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, The Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review. She will be reading at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday, February 16.

Howe's latest book, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, merges the metaphysical onto everyday life and examines the presence of the sacred in "ordinary time," where "One loaf = one loaf. One fish = one fish." By doing this, Howe reshapes the way we look at the biblical ideas that are common to many of us. She re-illustrates the idea of unconditional love in "How You Can't Move Moonlight" and portrays a more tangible faith in "The Snow Storm." Ultimately The Kingdom of Ordinary Time asks, where is the kingdom of God on earth? What is holy? And who is a part of God's kingdom?

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Monday, February 13, 2012

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

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
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