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Middle school

Celebrating Dead Poets: Louise Bogan (1897-1970)

Louise Bogan"Let all birds feast upon the poets' bones, then sing!" - 1981 inscription by William Pitt Root on the Poets Cottage at the original UA Poetry Center

Born in Maine the daughter of a mill worker, Louise Bogan was the fourth Poet Laureate of the United States and one of the most notable female American poets of the twentieth century.  She was poetry editor for The New Yorker from 1931-1969,and she published six collections of poetry during her lifetime.  After her first marriage, Bogan began her career as a writer in New York City where she would remain for the rest of her life.  Bogan is noted for her formal style and opposition to the confessional poetry that was popular during her lifetime.  While few details of Bogan's personal life are public knowledge, her work continues to speak for itself today.  Bogan read at the UA Poetry Center on February 15, 1967.

Much of Bogan's poetry is available online through the Poetry Foundation website, including "A Tale" and "Medusa."

Several audio recordings of Bogan reading her poetry are also available from the Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets, including  "The Dragonfly" and "Statue and Birds."

--Julie Swarstad

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coming Soon

The WordPlay blog is on winter holiday. Please check back in January 2011 for more great interviews and articles about bringing creative writing into your classroom, home, and community. In the meantime, here's what's upcoming for youth at the UA Poetry Center in the Spring. Mark your calendars.

Poetry Joeys: January 29, February 26, March 19.

Poetry Out Loud Regional Finals: March 3 at 8 p.m.

Bilingual Corrido Contest Concert featuring 2011 winners: April 16

Young at Art Fest: April 30

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Big Sky Lessons

by Elizabeth Maria FalcónCotton

Kimi Eisele's blog, "Big Sky Lessons: Reflections from a traveling teaching artist in rural Arizona" is a fantastic site for teaching inspiration. A recent blog post, "Lessons in Softness" reflects on a teaching experience she had near Safford on the San Carlos Apache reservation. Students had been asked to write an animal fable in one week, and Kimi was there to guide them through the writing process. She discusses the struggle she experienced between getting students to write and allowing students to discover what they have to say through creative movement and play.

Here is an excerpt from her blog post from one of the class periods where they explored animals through creative movement:

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Ballistics and Other Resources for Bringing Billy Collins to Students

by Julie SwarstadBallistics by Billy Collins

Born in 1941, Billy Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003.  He has published eight collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room (Random House 2001), The Trouble with Poetry (Random House 2005), and most recently Ballistics (Random House 2008).  Collins is the recipient of numerous awards including Poetry's 1994 Poet of the Year Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York.

Collins will be reading for the UA Poetry Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus on Sunday, November 7th at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available through UA Presents.

Billy Collins has been called "America's Most Popular Poet" by Time Magazine, reflecting the enormous appeal his work has for a variety of audiences.  Ballistics, his latest collection, is a great choice for introducing students to this former Poet Laureate's work. 

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Mood and Tone at Halloween

by Elizabeth MariaThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Falcón

I taught a Halloween lesson at Apollo Middle School last fall that centered around mood and tone.  I began by reading the opening of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book:

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade

finer and sharper than any razor.  If it sliced you, you might

not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Language and Representation of the Holocaust

by Bryan Davis

Holocaust Education Teacher InserviceBryan Davis is the Director of Holocaust Education at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

What words did victims of the Holocaust use to attempt to represent their experiences during the war?  They were faced with the unthinkable challenge of realizing (depending on when they wrote) that what they wrote would be used as a marker of their place individually, and the Jewish place collectively, in history, as they were being systematically annihilated and that at the same time, words were inadequate for representing the horrors they experienced.

Hélène Berr was a twenty-one year old student in the English Studies Department at the Sorbonne when, in 1942, she began keeping a diary in her home in avenue Elisee-Reclus in German occupied Paris.  Hélène came from an affluent family, she was well read in British literature, especially the Romantic poets, and she was a gifted amateur violinist.  Hélène's diary served shifting and overlapping purposes for her during the time she kept it from April 1942-February 1944.  At times Hélène hoped the diary would provide a message to her fiancé Jean who had fled France to join the resistance, while increasingly, as the persecutions around her grew closer and more brutal, she hoped to use the diary to "tell the story."  On October 10, 1943 she wrote:

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Poetry Birds

by Joni WallacePoetry Birds 4

Joni Wallace's poetry collection Blinking Ephemeral Valentine was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the 2009 Levis Prize and is forthcoming from Four Way Books (March, 2011). Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Barrow Street, Blue Mesa Review, Conduit, Cutbank, Forklift, Ohio, Laurel Review and have been featured in Connotations Press, An Online Artifact. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana. Joni is also a musician and co-founder, with poet Ann Dernier, of Poets' Studio.

"These are the poetry birds, Mom," says my beaming five-year-old, presenting me with her drawing. "And...they are famous."  For the last two years these birds have graced the wall in the room where I write. If they had a song, it would be  "attention, pay attention."  And they remind of something Dean Young wrote of poets: we are trying to make birds, not birdhouses.  This same "birdness" is what Richard Shelton calls "claritas:" those moments of clairvoyant transcendence that come through poems when poems work.  

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Discovering "Worlds of Words" at UA's College of Education

When I set out to find the Worlds of Words collection, I knew little beyond that it was located in the basement of the Education Building.  After a few unsuccessful attempts in various stairwells, I opened a door and knew I had found the right place.  The walls of the stairwell were covered in posters promoting literacy with bright, colorful illustrations all pulling me forward into an incredible collection of children's books.

The most immediately striking thing about WOW is the sheer number of books they house.  There are books everywhere, filling shelves in four rooms, covering tables, sometimes even stacked on top of each other on the shelves in sections where there wasn't quite enough space.  This impressive collection is housed in a series of interconnected classrooms which have been converted into a library space with tables and chairs scattered throughout.  The lighting is slightly dim and the atmosphere cool and quiet, a perfect respite from the world above.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

A Sixth-Grader Speaks: Self-publishing on Lulu

What I needed, one year ago, was an easy way to put get my poems into collection form, an easy way to "publish" my poems. And Lulu was definitely that.

At that time, I was visiting my grandmother in Montana, and was having great fun, and I wanted to get my poems "published" but I really didn't want to waste time that I could be spending otherwise (since I was of course, on vacation). But it turned out to be really enjoyable, and a short process. You fill out your form, attach a document, choose the style you want it to be published in (spiral bound, hard cover, etc.), and then get to the more creative aspects, from choosing your cover to picking out your font styles.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You Can Write Whatever You Want: Creative Writing from the Perspective of Two Elementary School Writers

by Laynie Browne & Benjamin and Jacob Davidson

Laynie Browne & Benjamin and Jacob DavidsonLaynie Browne is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently The Desires of Letters (Counterpath Press, 2010).  She is Elementary Education Coordinator for the Poetry Center and is currently developing an interdisciplinary outreach program to connect scientists and writers at University of Arizona and in the greater Tucson community.

Benjamin Davidson just finished 5th grade.  His hobbies include writing, fossil hunting and spending time with his pet rabbit, Bunny Bunkins.

Jacob Davidson just finished 3rd grade.  He loves math, bionicles, mechanical pencils, drawing  and writing adventure and science fiction stories and comics.  He also likes to take apart machines.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Arizona Board of Regents