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Owl & Panther Speaking Peace

Marge PellegrionOn September 17, at 11:30 a.m., participants from the Hopi Foundation's Owl and Panther Project recite original work on themes of war and peace in response to Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children's Paintings, on display at the Poetry Center from August 29 to September 23. Join us!

The Hopi Foundation's Owl & Panther project will take part in the Speak Peace exhibit on display at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, even knowing that we walk a fine line when we ask those whose lives have been damaged by war to speak back, speak out, speak peace to images depicting that very aggression.

Our participants are as young as five and a few grandfathers are as old as sixty. They come from Congo, Guatemala, Mali, El Salvador, Chile, Iraq, Nepal, Bhutan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Each carries private memories of the brutality of war, some the scarcity of camps. Others still witness a family member's ongoing battle with PTSD's haunting night visitors.

When introducing Speak Peace, one woman balked. She wouldn't write about war. Done, flat out refusal. She didn't want to look at the images projected at the Poetry Center the night we introduced the project. But the images weren't all bombs and mayhem. And she will be invited to choose one with a band aid on the world, or an image where peace is already peeking out from the scarred earth. And if that proves difficult at all, she'll be asked to paint her own soothing image from which to speak peace.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Authenticity: Writing about War and Peace

Christopher McIlroySpeak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children is an international, collaborative traveling art exhibit out of Kent State featuring paintings by Vietnamese children and American responses in the form of poetry. The Poetry Center invites you to visit this exhibit from now through September 23, 2011. On Saturday, September 17, from 11:30 - 12:30 participants in the Hopi Foundation's Owl & Panther Project will give a reading of their responses to the paintings in this exhibit. Join us.

I have no specific qualifications to address authenticity in writing as it relates to war, so let's get that out of the way. Assisting with Marge Pellegrino in the Speak Peace project has been my first experience of the kind. My students in the Tohono O'odham and Yaqui communities live with hardship, pain, and grief to a degree I scarcely can imagine, and produce writing of a rare eloquence and authenticity from that background, but I realize it isn't the same.

I even find it hard to define the slippery "authentic." We can't even say that "we know it when we see it."  We may not agree upon what strikes that note in us when we read, view, or hear what we believe to be authentic. Sincerity seems a necessary component but not a sufficient one. Rarely do we hear the response, "I admire the authenticity of the piece, but unfortunately it's terrible." The authentic must capture a truth, as well, and probably artfully.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

What You See in the Dark: A review

What You See in the DarkYou know the scene. The actress is standing under a stream of running water. You get a glimpse of her collarbone, of her calf. You understand that she is at her most vulnerable. You worry something horrible is going to happen. And then it does.

The shower scene from Psycho has become one of the most legendary and recognizable moments in film history. So much has been said, analyzed, parodied from Psycho that you might think that there is nothing new to be explored, but What You See in the Dark is evidence that this is not true. In his past short story collections, Manuel Muñoz has revealed his stellar lyricism in prose and skillful craft of individual stories and in his debut novel, he seamlessly weaves in and out of voices, in and out of parallel narratives to reveal something about the intricate nature of human beings' motivations, desires, and fears.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Listening to Billy Collins on the Poetry Center's AVL

Adam DeLucaWhile perusing the Poetry Center's Audio Visual Library featuring poets who have read at the Center, I came across one poem titled "Litany" by Billy Collins. On the archives I was able to view this as a video and see him present the poem and how the audience reacted. Fortunately enough, Billy Collins has read at the Poetry Center a few times and I was able to see the reactions of two different audiences to this poem. In one of the videos, the audience was bawling in laughter after every line; however, in the other video you could hear a pin drop in the audience. So I guess this poem can be taken multiple ways depending on how you look at it.

Personally, if I had to choose I would have fit in with the laughing crowd. The poem "Litany" is a love poem, I guess. It starts out with a bunch of metaphors addressed to an other such as, "you are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine." The metaphors are somewhat strange, which I guess is where the audience can perceive them as funny or not.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reflections on Summer Camp

Wordplay blogger, Adam DeLuca, observed an afternoon of "Creative Writing in 3-D" for middle school students earlier in June and shares these thoughts.

Today was my first day observing creative writing in 3D Summer Camp for middle school students here at the Poetry Center. I'll start off by saying that even though I have only seen a portion of the camp, it is easy to see what a great time the kids are having. The camp is run in a way so that the counselor's get the campers to be active and involved no matter what the activity is, if it is discussion, presentation or an art project. Collaboration between the campers is also a key part of the camp. Not only do the exciting projects get the kids working, but they get them working together. In the camp today they were discussing symbols in our world, such as symbols in books they have read or even pictures of graffiti in our cities. They considered how these symbols can be used as metaphors or be seen in many different ways. They discussed a picture of a peace sign spray painted over a one way road sign and threw out ideas about what it might stand for. Some said that it may mean that peace shouldn't be a one way street, where as others took it as peace is the only way to go. Later one camper drew a symbol on a white board and then everyone else came and added something to the symbol. The symbol grew and grew with each addition and ended up being a hilarious picture of some creature with pony tails. They then were able to talk about how the drawing was affected by new additions. The constant interaction between the kids and the counselors kept the brainstorming going and really sparked the creativity in the kids. At one point the kids were given envelopes with symbols in them and the object was to write down as many things in one minute that were the opposite of what that symbol may stand for. These types of activities cause the campers to think out of the box and spark creativity with their work while still being able to have a good time.

--Adam DeLuca

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The YouTube Revolution

Eleanor Allen HendersonA fourteen-year-old boy posts videos of himself crooning tunes on YouTube. The same boy later becomes one of the biggest pop sensations of 2010; his success all due to the largest video sharing website there is, YouTube. Forty-six years worth of videos are watched every day; and 24 hrs worth of footage are uploaded every minute. I am part of a generation that the majority believes YouTube to be a staple of every day life. Its presence is almost as unnoticed as breathing though it is a vital player to our daily tasks and the music industry.

When Barack Obama ran in the most recent presidential election he used the Internet to create a grassroots movement and the same thing happens on YouTube. Local artists start up YouTube channels that allow direct interaction between the artist and the viewer, meaning an artist has a lot more exposure. By subscribing to an artist on YouTube you allow a more personal and effective way of building up a fanbase. The Internet allows voices to be heard across the masses while allowing personal interactions.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Do Your Words Mean?

Eleanor Allen-HendersonWhen reading poetry nothing is without meaning and the same could be said about social interactions; our words often only telling half the story and our punctuation, tone, and body language finish our tales. But what exactly is the protocol of nonverbal communication? Should we take the abbreviation of words to simply mean laziness or could they mean more?  In a text from my mother she wrote, "i luv u," and I couldn't help but wonder if she really felt it. I know she loves me but one cannot help but think if she does why hadn't she taken the time to write it out? Don't words have meaning? Every time I browse through Facebook and see declarations of love, hate, and happiness (misspelled of course) I can't help doubt whether they mean it. If you aren't going to spell correctly what importance does it have? Why does the internet lessen the expectations for spelling? I don't understand the difference between when writing to friends by hand and texting. When writing poetry someone can use spelling as a tool, bending words to fit their needs, in a way much like people do on the internet today. I guess the only difference is thought. Which brings me back to the most important question: does misspelling mean anything? Poets use the tool with care, a sign of thought, and we use it without thought. When people post on Facebook pages "ily" (I love you) I think they mean it but it seems as though they don't feel it. That's what the internet does-it takes the feeling out of interactions. We don't have to take the time to write out I love you on the internet because we can mean it but we can never feel it.

--Eleanor Allen-Henderson

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Week's Favorite Audio Video Clips

James TateMy 3 favorite audio clips from the Audio Video Library are:

  • "Up Here" by James Tate. I like "Up Here" because this poem is a love/romantic poem, which is why I like it. I like romantic poems because I love reading about couples and their relationships.
  • "The Interrogation" by Li Young Lee. "The Interrogation" is really heartbreaking, depressing, and sad which is why I'm really interested in it. He's talking about his childhood and how he remembers everything like how kids and adults got slaughtered and burned.
  • "Late in the Millennium", also by Li Young Lee, is a very touching and loving poem. The speaker is talking about his father who made him recite poems every month when he was a child and how he's become a poet. His father was his hero and when he recites poems he thinks of his father.

You can check out all these clips by clicking here: voca.arizona.edu

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflections of "Creative Writing in 3-D" Summer Camp

Last week here at the Poetry Center, we hosted a camp called "Creative Writing in 3-D." One project campers did was make their own 3-D world out of a shoe box they had brought from home. Some of the materials they used were markers, paint, glitter pens, pictures from a geographic magazines, newspapers, love boxes, and construction paper. They put in their boxes secret codes, web chains, and newspaper found poems. Also, they created a story revolving around their world. They used clothespins to represent the characters in their story. They dressed the clothespins however they wanted them to look. The campers also drew their hands without looking at the paper and after they were done, they made maps out of their hands. They had a little chalk fun while they were outside. They drew an evil looking eel with sharp teeth.

To the right is an example of a camper's 3-D world made out of a shoe box. As you can see, the camper got really creative and did a very good job.

--Jamilla Grigsby

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Introducing guest blogger Adam DeLuca

Adam DeLucaMy name is Adam DeLuca. I am 18 years old and will be an incoming freshman at the University of Arizona this fall! I play lacrosse, hike, bike, (anything outdoors really) and enjoy being around my friends and meeting new people as well. I have to be honest though, I do not do very much reading at all. Most of my reading comes from poetry books and articles in the paper that interest me however besides Harry Potter, sustained reading isn't my thing. On the other hand art and music are a big part of my life and have greatly influenced my natural ability to write poetry. I am thrilled to be able to observe these camps and go over the poetry archives and write about the whole experience.

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Friday, June 10, 2011
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