A Reading List and Thoughts on Poetry by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

When Mayor Jonathan Rothschild visited the Poetry Center on April 27, we asked him whether he came to poetry or whether poetry came to him. He said, “Poetry came to me. When I was a child, my mother would read to me from A Child’s Garden of Verse, or One Hundred American Poems."

"And I’ve always been a reader," he explains.

Mayor Rothschild attended Kenyon college, and it was there that he began to write his own poetry. "I was actually published in Kenyon College’s student-run literary magazine," he says, humbly clarifying that he does not mean The Kenyon Review, a literary journal he admires from that institution.

After he left college, Rothschild "wandered a little" from poetry, but he continued to read voraciously, though mostly literary fiction. "Then, suddenly," he recalls, "I was reading nothing but poetry. For about three or four years, I was just absorbing it." He became interested in the craft of writing, and Maya Angelou’s thoughts about the creative experience informed those investigations.

For Mayor Rothschild, both reading and writing poetry allows him to seek out quiet, reflective time.

He firmly believes that even if only a fraction of what one writes is destined to be published, the process is important. And for the Mayor, that process includes encountering poetry through readings and other literary events.

"To be a good policy maker, you need to have the greatest breadth of thinking you can," he says. "There are people who are very narrow, and they don’t tend to be effective [in policy-making roles]. Poetry opens you up to all different worlds, all different perspectives. It’s important to balance decisions from that frame of mind. Is black right? Is white right? Really, grey is right. And you don’t get that without knowing how to go into other people’s minds."


Some of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild's Favorite Poets

Carl Dennis Listen to Carl Dennis reading in Fall 2011 and in 1986 on voca.

Stephen Dobyns
 Listen to Stephen Dobyns reading in 1983 on voca.

Stephen Dunn
   On voca soon!

Martin Espada   On voca soon!

Tony Hoagland
   On voca soon!

Patricia Smith
   On voca soon!

C.K. Williams
  Williams read at the Poetry Center in 1973. Listen on voca!  






Photograph by Cybele Knowles










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