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Since 1994, the Poetry Center’s Residency Program has offered writers an opportunity to develop their work. The Poetry Center will award one residency each summer for a poet to spend two weeks in Tucson, Arizona developing his/her work. Writers at any stage of their careers may apply; emerging writers are welcome. The residency includes a $500 stipend and a two-week stay in a studio apartment located within steps of the Center’s renowned library of contemporary poetry. The residency is offered between June 1 and August 31.
Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in southeast Los Angeles. Her writing can be found in The Volta, Huizache, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Offing, and Nepantla. Her latest collection of poetry was the runner up for the Andres Montoya book prize in 2016. A graduate of Williams College, U.T. Austin, and U.C. Riverside, Vértiz teaches creative writing all over the country and works with 826LA.
We also want to congratulate the three finalists for the 2016 Summer Residency: Amanda Calderon, Tanya Grae, and Claire Hero.
Congratulations to Vickie, Amanda, Tanya, and Claire - and a deep thank you to all who submitted. We're grateful that you thought of Tucson as a place to write this summer.
About the 2016 judge:
Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. In 2014, she was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA program and lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last remaining Mojave speakers at Fort Mojave to teach and revitalize the Mojave language.
Writers at any stage of their careers may apply; emerging writers are welcome. This is a blind submission process. Close friends, students, or family members of the judge are not eligible to apply. Current University of Arizona faculty, staff, students, and Tucson residents are not eligible to receive the residency. Due to financial limitations, this award is only open to U.S. residents.
Paper submissions will not be accepted. Please make sure that the poems you submit are exactly as you want them to appear. Revisions will not be accepted while poems are under review.
The Poetry Center may contact finalists to receive their CV/resumes, as well as the contact information for three professional/personal references, before selecting a winner.
For a complete description of the Summer Residency package, please read the PDF attached at the bottom of this web page. We recommend you read this PDF document in full, as well as the below section, "The Residency Experience," to ensure that this is the right residency program for you.
Once you are ready to submit, please click here to go to our Submittable page.
Residents stay in a studio apartment located on the premises of the Poetry Center within the University of Arizona campus. Restaurants, cafés, bars, and stops for buses and the streetcar are all located nearby, and a bicycle is available for your use. Tucson’s streetcar provides convenient transportation across campus, to the Fourth Avenue district, and downtown Tucson.
The residency is offered for two weeks to be scheduled between June 1 and August 31. During this time, local temperatures average in the 100s. Some residents find the heat overwhelming at first. However, mornings are cool, and our monsoon season, which usually takes place from the end of June through July, brings significantly lower temperatures along with the storms.
We host only one resident per summer and our residents have no duties or responsibilities, other than to give a public reading.
Our residency program is, in important ways, an experience of solitude. Unlike other residency programs, there are no other writers or artists staying on-site simultaneously. However, the Poetry Center library is full of fun and interesting patrons who like to talk about books. The Poetry Center staff, volunteers, and docents do provide some hosting and welcome activities for the summer residents; however, applicants should understand that they are largely on their own. If collaboration, networking, and companionship are important elements of a residency experience for you, you may want to look into the many other excellent residency programs that can provide these opportunities.
What we can offer are the following essentials of our residency experience:
The resident’s studio apartment cannot accommodate partners or pets, though certified service animals are welcome. Smoking in the studio apartment is not permitted. Residents are responsible for providing their own transportation for the duration of their stay, cell phone (there is no landline in the studio apartment), computer (free public wifi is available), exercise equipment, and other supplies. The Poetry Center will have prepared the apartment with one initial round of groceries, after which the resident is responsible for acquiring their own food, though we are happy to share resources regarding local grocery stores. Residents are also responsible for doing their laundry, if needed, at a nearby laundromat.
"My summer residency was wonderful. A pleasure. And honor. My time in the heat and sand with the blue-tail lizards and saguaro (not to mention the cricket inhabiting the fuse box) was truly a gift. Tucson inspired my work and fed my soul. The Poetry Center library is simply gorgeous – a well from which I drew again and again."
-- Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, 2012 Summer Resident
"This library, with its open stacks and fresh pages, with its 50 years of company, its clarity and carefulness, its brightness and cushiness-[those lovely couches!]-and the love that is so evident in every inch, is like no where I have ever been, but it is still familiar, as if I've always known it somehow."
-- Genine Lentine, 2012 Summer Resident
"My novel was absolutely rescued by my stay in Tucson, by the days of sitting in the library watching the monsoon crackle over the mountains and long quiet nights at Casa Libre listening to the cicadas sing. Seriously, there is no doubt in my mind that my month in Tucson saved my book. I was ready to give up, throw it away and forget it had ever been. That quiet month, just sitting with my book, crossing out whole chapters and making notes and not panicking because I knew I had time, made all the difference."
-- Naomi Alderman, 2004 Summer Resident
2016: Vickie Vértiz
2015: Hieu Minh Nguyen
2014: Stephen Willey
2013: Anne Shaw (poetry) & Polly Rosenwaike (fiction)
2012: Genine Lentine (poetry) & Harrison Candelaria Fletcher (non-fiction)
2011: Harmony Holiday (poetry) & Mary Jones (fiction)
2010: Sean Bernard
2009: James Allen Hall
2008: Shashi Baat
2007: Anna Green
2006: Cody Walker
2005: Eric Abbott
2004: Naomi Alderman
2003: Esther Lee
2002: Rebecca Davidson
2001: Joshua Poteat
2000: Jonathon Keats
1999: Beth Ann Fennelly
1998: Martha Silano
1997: Caroline Langston
1996: Lise Goett
1995: Kymberly Taylor
1994: Mark Wunderlich