Matinee Performances

Invigorate your discussion and study of poetry with a visit from a poet through the Poetry Center’s Matinee Program! Poets now visit school sites in Southern Arizona! Teachers and students are invited to host matinee performances from poets who have traveled to Tucson to participate in the Poetry Center’s Reading Series. More than 1000 writers have read or lectured in the series, including most major contemporary U.S. poets, significant international visitors, and emerging artists.

Matinee performances happen on select Fridays, are underwritten by the Friends of the Poetry Center, and are FREE to school groups. Interested teachers and schools are served on a first come, first serve basis. Most poet visits are ideal for middle and high school groups. However, we do occasionally host poets who write for an elementary audience.

Many (but not all) of the readers who participate in our matinee program, also read in our reading series. Because they are out of town guests, we have little flexibility on scheduling the date they are available to visit your school. That’s one reason why advanced planning is so important. Each of the poets scheduled in the matinee program visits one school for one hour. Matinee performances take place on Fridays.

Author visits include a combination or all of the following services (depending on available budget and the particulars of your school and selected poet):

·         A class set of books for reading prior to the poet visit.

·         A set of all the author’s books for the school library.

·         Creative reading and writing lessons delivered by teaching artists and graduate creative writing interns prior to poet/author visit.

·         A one-hour visit by poet/author to your school site which typically includes a 20 minute reading and 20 minute Q&A session (depending on age    group).

Poets participating in 2014-2015 school year:

Craig Santos Perez and Yona Harvey, September 19th--BOOKED

Allen Crawford, October 11th--BOOKED

Benjamin Saenz, October 17th--BOOKED

Erin Zwiener, February--BOOKED

Interested in joining the wait list to host a poet or author at your school?

Email Renee Angle at

There are several ways to implement this program:

1.       A single teacher can teach the poet/author and host the reading in your classroom for his/her class or classes only.

2.       Several teachers or a whole department can partner to teach and host the poet/author.

3.       Teachers from an entire school can participate and prepare for the visit.

To host a poet at your school, one planning meeting (hour and a half in length) is required with everyone in the school who will be involved in the visit. We request that teachers familiarize students with a poet's work prior to a visit. This can be done in many ways. We will make recommendations on how to achieve an ideal author visit based on a particular poet’s work and performance style as well as what we learn about your goals for students. Author visits are ideal for groups of 60 or less, but sometimes a poet visit can involve the whole school quite successfully.  

Special Thanks to our Generous Sponsor, the Donald Pitt Family Foundation.


Check out these past Matinee performances and lesson plans:

Poet and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

Born and raised in Tucson, Jonathan is a native Tucsonan. His grandmother came to Tucson in 1942 and opened Valley Fair, a used furniture store on South 6th Avenue. A graduate of Canyon del Oro High School, Kenyon College and the University of New Mexico Law School, Jonathan served as a law clerk for United States District Court Judge Alfredo Marquez. He then joined the law firm of Mesch, Clark & Rothschild, where he served as managing partner. Jonathan has a long history of extensive service with local non-profits – as a leader and a worker. His first collection of poetry The Last Clubhouse Eulogy was published by Chax Press in 2011. Charles Alexander writes of this collection, "This is a poetry that embraces everything and doesn't lie about any of it. Clear language, clear vision. Love and truth."

Click here for writing exercises based on Mayor Rothschild's poetry collection, The Last Clubhouse Eulogy.

Click here to view Mayor Rothschild's Matinee performance held at the Poetry Center on October 19, 2012.




Poet Thomas Sayers Ellis

Teachers and students gathered for a performance by poet and photagrapher Thomas Sayers Ellis, whose book, Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems takes a complex, searing look at the state of black identity in America. Ellis says, “The book is for you, a collective you. If there's an ideal reader, I guess it would be someone—black, yellow, white or red—
interested in literary time travel, so that we don't end up here again in a place where there hasn't been an Asian or Latino or Native American poet laureate."

Click here for writing exercises based on Thomas Sayers Ellis's poetry collection, Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems.

Click here to view Thomas Sayers Ellis's Matinee performance held at the Poetry Center on September 15, 2011.



Poet and Memorist Paul Guest

Guest's memoir, One More Theory About Happiness (Ecco Press, 2010), narrates his journey from his boyhood accident and adapting to life in a wheelchair to living on his own, graduating from college, becoming a teacher, and getting engaged. Publisher’s Weekly says of the book: “Hopeful but refreshingly direct, Guest’s memoir is not simply an inspirational account of overcoming disability, but an insightful, vivid account of an outsider finding his place.” Guest reads from his memoir as well as his latest collections of highly acclaimed poetry.

Click here for writing exercises based on Paul Guest's memoir, One More Theory About Happiness.

Click here to view Paul Guest's Matinee performance held at the Poetry Center on March 22, 2012.

Arizona Board of Regents