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by Julie Swarstad
Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of five books of poetry, including Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk (2005) which won the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Selenography (2010). He has edited two anthologies for University of Iowa Press, including Poets on Teaching (2010), and his first feature-length film--a tour documentary about the band Califone--has just been completed. Wilkinson is an alumnus of the University of Arizona Creative Writing MFA Program. He lives in Chicago where he is an assistant professor at Loyola University.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. along with fellow UA alumna Kate Bernheimer.
by Julie Swarstad
Kate Bernheimer is the author of two novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold (2001) and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold (2006), as well a short story collection titled Horse, Flower, Bird (2010). She has also edited several fairy-tale anthologies, including My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales (2010). Bernheimer is an alumna of the University of Arizona Creative Writing MFA Program. She founded and edits the journal Fairy Tale Review and is Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette each spring. She spends the rest of the year in Tucson.
A reading and discussion of "The Contemporary Fairy Tale" will take place at the UA Poetry Center on Wednesday, December 1, at 8:00 p.m.
Kate Bernheimer will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, December 3 at 8 p.m. along with fellow UA alum Joshua Marie Wilkinson.
You would think that "starving, hysterical, naked," the most iconic phrase of Allen Ginsberg's poem "HOWL" and perhaps even of the Beat Generation, would come to describe the film built to represent it. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's film, however, is a nontraditional docudrama soaring through windows of courtrooms, coffeehouses, and Ginsberg's immaculate apartment, searching for cohesion with audience in tow. At first it seems that Epstein and Friedman may have missed the mark with adorable Franco, his trendily decorated apartment, smoothed-over CGI (computer-generated imagery) sequences, and such a higher-ed slant on obscenity trials that university affiliates whooped during the screening. But then you realize what happened: The writer/directors hit their mark just fine, missing Ginsberg's by - dare I say a generation? - without so much as a nod to the distinction.
by Julie Swarstad
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.
Review by Julie Swarstad
Natalie Merchant is an American singer-songwriter who has been actively releasing records since 1982. Merchant was originally a member of the alternative-rock band 10,000 Maniacs until she began a career as a solo musician in 1993. Her most critically-acclaimed albums include Tigerlily (1995) and Ophelia (1998). Leave Your Sleep (2010) is her first album since 2003's The House Carpenter's Daughter. Visit her official website at: http://www.nataliemerchant.com/.
Leave Your Sleep marks Natalie Merchant's first foray into the world of poetry. "I'm a late arrival to the party," Merchant said in an interview about the album as she discussed her connection to poetry. Despite her late introduction to the genre, Merchant's latest album--a two disc collection of children's poetry set to music--is a testament to the power of language and story in children's lives. The collection includes children's poetry from well-known poets Edward Lear, Jack Prelutsky, e.e. cummings, Ogden Nash, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, along with a host of nursery rhymes and nonsense songs from more obscure writers.
by Bryan Davis
Bryan 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:
Review by Julie Swarstad
Born in 1930, Gary Snyder has published sixteen collections of poetry and prose including Turtle Island (New Directions 1969), Mountains and Rivers Without End (Counterpoint 1996), and most recently Danger on Peaks (Shoemaker Hoard 2004). Snyder is the recipient of numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Turtle Island, the 1997 Bolligen Prize for Poetry, the 1997 John Hay Award for Nature Writing, and the 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Snyder is a professor of English at the University of California, Davis.
Although he is often associated with specific movements or beliefs, Gary Snyder above all else is a poet who speaks for what he believes in. Snyder's writing is often firmly labeled Beat poetry or nature writing, and while both of these things do accurately describe his work, his writing never fits as neatly within these categories as one might expect. Rather than pigeonholing Snyder within any one of these categories then, it might be fruitful instead to teach him as a poet who speaks boldly from within his own beliefs and his own ideas.
Review by Julie Swarstad
Sherwin Bitsui is a Dine poet originally from White Cone, Arizona. He received an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program and has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, including the prestigious Whiting Writers' Award, along with publications in American Poet and The Iowa Review. Currently residing in Tucson, Arizona, Bistui is the author of two collections: Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press 2003) and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press 2009). Bitsui is a frequent guest in classrooms as a visiting poet through the ArtsReach program.
Bitsui will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, September 10th at 8 p.m. along with Ofelia Zepeda and Alberto Rios.
In Flood Song, Sherwin Bitsui explores "the dimming atlases of our lungs," atlases which are infused with his Dine background and a distinct sense of place that is both rural and urban with a hint of apocalypse. This sense of place is rendered in a stream of surrealistic images that rush and brim with an energetic, almost wild, power.
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.
by Julie Swarstad
Ofelia Zepeda is a Tohono O'odham poet and professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona. Her works include Where Clouds are Formed (2008), Ocean Power (1995), Home Places: Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks (1995), A Papago Grammar (1983), and When It Rains, Papago and Pima Poetry = Mat hekid o ju, 'O'odham Na-cegitodag (1982). She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1999 and is the Poet Laureate of Tucson.
Ofelia Zepeda will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, Septemer 10th at 8 p.m. along with Natalia Toldeo, Alberto Rios, and Sherwin Bitsui.
From the first lines of her latest collection, Where Clouds are Formed, Ofelia Zepeda makes it clear that she sees the world with a preciseness of vision that few writers achieve as completely as she does. Where Clouds are Formed explores memory, experience, and myth while remaining firmly situated within the landscape of southern Arizona. Zepeda lays out her stories and ideas bit by bit in short, almost clipped statements which reveal her ideas at a restrained, thoughtful pace. "The piece of skin riding on my shoe falls," she writes, "At dusk a coyote wanders through the wash. / He picks up my scent. / It leads nowhere." Zepeda's sentences are tightly packed with just what is needed to convey her ideas in a clear, seemingly straightforward way.