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poetry

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

Storm Poem

This is a poem came out of the most recent Poetry Joeys workshop taught by Joni Wallace. Poetry Joeys is part of the University of Arizona Poetry Center's Family Days program. For more information, visit the Poetry Center's website.

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Storm Poem

The wind howls
the lightning crashes
the thunder roars
the rain pounds
the trees sway
the ground floods
the sun is gone
the clouds are here
the water gushes in my boots
as I walk through the rain
the puddles splash
the water sprinkles
the rivers over fill
the breeze softens
the lightning lessens
the rain stops
the puddles dry
the sun is here
the clouds are gone
the storm is over
the storm is gone.

-Anonymous

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

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Friday, September 23, 2011

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

Improving the Taught Toolbox: A Review of Thomas Sayers Ellis

Christy DelahantyM. A. K. Halliday, a prominent British linguist, has expressed the difference between written and spoken language thus: "While the complexity of conscious language is dense and crystalline, formed by a closely-packed construction of words and word clusters, the complexity of unconscious language is fluid and choreographic." If we, like Halliday, are used to such a distinction being upheld -- in the differences between newspapers and small talk or memos and meetings -- then Thomas Sayers Ellis' Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems will at first seem strange indeed.

Ellis, commenting on poetry's split into spoken-word and academic camps, stresses that his aim is "to make every line do both." And because his most recent collection is a book rather than a performance or a recording, his lines strike their reader as shockingly choreographic for their form.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011
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