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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

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

More than Slam Poetry on the Page: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, Blood DazzlerPatricia Smith is a poet, performance artist, author, and teacher.  She has published five books of poetry including Close to Death (1993), Teahouse of the Almighty (2006), and Blood Dazzler (2008) which was a finalist for the National Book Award.  The winner of a Pushcart Prize, Smith is a four-time individual National Poetry Slam champion.

While Patricia Smith got her start in poetry as a slam poet, her most recent collection of poetry speaks to her ability to perform on the page as well with all the force, vibrancy, and conviction that she demonstrates at the microphone.  Blood Dazzler is a sequence that explores the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, specifically focusing on the tremendous destruction and loss of life caused in New Orleans.  Natural disasters and political turmoil can be difficult subjects to write about convincingly, but Smith uses the full power of direct language to engage with her reader.

The easiest way to describe Blood Dazzler is to say that it is like a slap in the face; Smith never sidesteps the fear, death, and loss that her subject is fraught with.  And although she always confronts the issues head on, the most powerful weapon at work in Smith's writing is her sense of rhythm and sound that clearly come from her slam background.   She describes "the slow wilting jazz of their legs / razored by the murk" and the battered people who struggle with "that first blessing--forward, forward, / not getting the joke of their paper shoes, / not knowing the sidewalks are gone."  Again and again she forces us to confront the suffering of the residents of New Orleans by grabbing our attention with driving rhythms.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Celebrating the Desert with Byrd Baylor: A Retrospective

by Julie Swarstad

Byrd Baylor, When Clay SingsByrd Baylor is the author of more than twenty books of children's poetry.  Her writing primarily focuses on the places and people of the Southwestern United States.  Four of her books--When Clay Sings (1973), The Desert is Theirs (1976), Hawk, I'm Your Brother (1977), and The Way to Start a Day (1979)--have been recognized as Caldecott Honor Books.  Baylor is a resident of Arivaca.

Byrd Baylor will be signing books at the Poetry Center's Young at Art Festival on April 30th following a performance of Baylor's Desert Voices presented by University of Arizona's Stories on Stage.

Byrd Baylor is one of the most ubiquitous names in Southwestern children's literature.  Baylor's stories are told in free verse that moves quietly forward, celebrating the desert and calling for her readers to spend more time listening to and appreciating the world that surrounds them.  Baylor's publications span a period of over forty years, but the constant throughout her entire career is this sense of a deep and abiding connection to the desert.

Baylor's earliest available publication is Amigo (1963), a surprisingly sweet story of boy and prairie dog who befriend one another told in a sing-song rhyme.  Although Amigo is very different from Baylor's usual style, Baylor's story is simple and fun.  After Amigo, Baylor published several other books (Coyote Cry and Before You Came This Way) before publishing When Clay Sings with illustrations by Tom Bahti in 1972.  Baylor's text--now the free verse that she would continue to write in throughout her career--uses designs from native Southwestern pottery as a point of departure for imagined stories about the people who may have created the images.  Tom Bahti's illustrations were recognized with a Caldecott Honor Medal, but the book deals with the artwork at a very surface level, taking the figures as they are and weaving a little story out of them.  It's worth reading, but readers may find the work a bit dated in its approach.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Skirting the Issue: Indirection in Ali and Bozicevic

by Julie SwaBright  Felon by Kazim  Alirstad

Kazim Ali is a poet, novelist, essayist, and founding editor of Nightboat Books.  He is the author of three volumes of poetry and two novels, including The Far Mosque (2005), The Disappearance of Seth (2009), and Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (2009).  Ali is an assistant creative writing professor at Oberlin College in addition to teaching for the Stonecoast MFA program.

Ana Božičević was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1977. She emigrated to NYC in 1997. Her first book of poems is Stars of the Night Commute (2009), a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her fifth chapbook, Depth Hoar, will be published by Cinematheque Press in 2010. With Amy King, Ana co-curates The Stain of Poetry reading series in Brooklyn. She works at the Center for the Humanities of The Graduate Center, CUNY.

The Next Word in Poetry program was initiated in 2003 to present emerging poets whose work heralds a dynamic new era in contemporary poetry.  In February 2011 the Poetry Center presents two pairs of New Word poets to read and engage in conversation with one another concerning their literary interests and influences.  Kazim Ali and Ana Božičević will read at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday, February 24 at 8 p.m.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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

Out of Breath: Dissociation in Morrison and Moten

by Julie SwarstaRusty Morrison Bookd

Rusty Morrison is a poet and co-founder of Omnidawn Publishing.  She is the author of two volumes of poetry: Whethering (2005) which won the Colorado Prize for Poetry and the true keeps calm biding its story (2008) which won the 2008 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.  Her poetry, essays, and reviews have been published in Boston Review, Chicago Review, and New American Writing, among others.  She is a contributing editor for Poetry Flash.

Fred Moten lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he teaches in the Duke University Department of English. He is author of Arkansas (2000), In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003), I ran from it but was still in it. (2007), Hughson's Tavern (2008) and B Jenkins (2010).

The Next Word in Poetry program was initiated in 2003 to present emerging poets whose work heralds a dynamic new era in contemporary poetry.  In February 2011 the Poetry Center presents two pairs of New Word poets to read and engage in conversation with one another concerning their literary interests and influences.  Rusty Morrison and Fred Moten will read at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday, February 10 at 8 p.m.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Inspiration for Creative Writing Clubs Everywhere

Christy Delahanty"I see your spider legs and raise you an octopus tentacle."

The only legible phrase on our recently-decorated banner is also - though it does loosely correspond with the crayoned-in contents of the bubble letters - nonsensical. This doesn't matter.

The English and Creative Writing Club is among hundreds of recognized organizations on the University of Arizona campus and at least a handful of special interest - that is, non-exclusive - clubs. When I was became vice president my sophomore year, I wasn't worried; I knew the drill. Mostly due to low membership, the activities had dwindled to the bare bones of annual projects - chapbook, outreach, outreach - and the weekly meetings revolved around these bones.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Human Side of the Issue: Ann Cummins' Yellowcake

With Yellowcake, Ann Cummins walks a dangerously thin line.  Her story is one of disease, radiation, and cultural struggle, all issues that many of us might find difficult to write about without ending up on a figurative soapbox.  Cummins, however, never makes that error; she approaches her story from an angle that is utterly human in perspective.   Cummins walks the line between political activism and the minutiae of daily life with such grace that the reader doesn't notice the balancing act and can simply engage with her fully realized, realistically flawed characters.

Yellowcake reads like a collection of several distinct stories woven together with the common threads of family, old friendships, and long exposure to radiation through yellowcake in the uranium mills of Colorado and New Mexico.   Ryland Mahoney, Sam Behan, and Woody Atcitty are the three men whose history as workers in a uranium mill near Shiprock, New Mexico drive the story forward; Ryland, an Anglo, and Woody, a Navajo, are slowly dying from radiation-caused illnesses, and their families and friends must struggle with the guilt, fear, and loss tangled up in their sickness.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Confronting the Darkness with David Wojahn

by Julie SwarstadInterrogation Palace by David Wohahn

David Wojahn is the author of eight books of poetry, among them World Tree (2011), Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982-2006 (2006), The Falling Hour (1997) and Icehouse Lights (1982). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts.  Interrogation Palace was a named finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the O.B. Hardison Award.  An alumnus of the University of Arizona Creative Writing MFA Progra m, Wojahn is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

David Wojahn will read at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday, January 20 at 8 p.m. along with fellow UA alum Ann Cummins.

While David Wojahn is often noted as being "a poet of witness" to political injustice and other violence, in the poems collected into Interrogation Palace, he also acts as a witness to the struggles within individual lives.  His writing is filled with moments of personal struggle and pain: the loss of his wife Lynda, of unborn children, of friends, along with all the simple, small losses we go through each day.  Wojahn writes from a place of trouble and pain, but while his topics are weighty, he charges us to look them full in the face.  "How can you turn away?" he asks in one poem.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011
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