Online Exhibitions

Small books have a visual impact that is inversely proportional to their size. A small book demands to be treated gently and read slowly: it is a fragile, highly portable, delicately ephemeral artifact.

Miniature books first came to popularity in the late 19th century. These tiny books, often beautifully bound in leather, were small enough to fit into travelers’ clothes or luggage and contained both practical and inspirational texts (dictionaries and religious volumes were popular choices for miniature bookmakers of the period).  Today, the term “miniature book” applies mostly to conventionally bound books that are fewer than three inches high. Contemporary book artists have taken innovative liberties with the original concept of the miniature book, creating small, often highly whimsical books that delight the eye.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk and Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from December 9, 2013 to January 29, 2014.

 

In this exhibit, the Poetry Center Library presents first editions of works by some of the twentieth century’s most iconic poets, including T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Dylan Thomas, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and others. In addition to historical first editions, the Poetry Center also holds a number of facsimile reprints of first editions the Library would otherwise be unable to collect. Some of the facsimile editions on display here include facsimile reprints of important works by W.B. Yeats and Robert Frost. These works have been chosen for their historical and literary significance as well as their beauty. We hope you enjoy this opportunity to experience these exceptional treasures from our Rare Book Room.

This exhibit, curated by Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from July 1, 2013 to September 4, 2013.

The act of writing and the act of mapping are not far removed from one another. In fact, many of the words we associate with the science of mapping include writing as a root verb: topography, from the Greek words for “place” and "write"; geography, from the Greek words for “earth” and “write”; cartography, from the Greek words for “papyrus” and “write.” To write is, in a sense, to attempt to chart our understanding of the world. And to look at a map is, in a sense, to create: we pore over unfamiliar names and fill in blank spaces with new people and adventures. The unknown is knowable, the map whispers. It’s hard to overstate—or to resist— the power of that call to the imagination. Here, we examine how poets have attempted these chartings in works that engage with maps as physical objects and as metaphor.

This exhibit, curated by Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from February 4, 2013 to April 17, 2013.

Selections from the Permanent Collection is an exhibition series highlighting holdings from the Poetry Center’s L.R. Benes Rare Book Room, including contemporary fine press work and artist books as well as important works from the 20th century and earlier. In winter 2012, the Center inaugurated Selections from the Permanent Collection with a look at oversized works.

Unusually sized books, whether very small or very large, visually signal the reader to take special notice. The “Big Books” displayed here claim the reader’s attention not by their size alone, but also by their exceptional design.

To make a big book is a costly undertaking. It is a sign of faith on the part of all those involved in its production that the work within, and the physical artifact itself, are worth extra time, effort, and expense. In the case of these stunning Big Books, that faith is well placed.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk and Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from December 12, 2012 to January 30, 2013.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center is home to the LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection, a superb archives of photographic portraits of poets by the Poetry Center's first director, LaVerne Harrell Clark. The collection dates from 1962 to 2000 and contains several thousand film negatives and prints, as well as correspondence and ephemera. Most of the twentieth century's leading poets are represented in the collection, often portrayed multiple times over the course of several decades. Here, the Poetry Center presents classic portraits and snapshots of poets such as Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Galway Kinnell, May Swenson, Gary Snyder, and Stanley Kunitz, dating from 1962 to 1972.

This exhibit, curated by Rodney Phillips and Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from September 27, 2010 to January 3, 2011.

Curated by Johanna Drucker

For Artistexts, internationally renowned author, book artist, and visual theorist Johanna Drucker selected more than 20 artist books created in a deliberate dialogue between design and writing. These artistexts (a neologism coined by Drucker) explore how poetics and production change across the spaces of a distributed textual system, emerging as palimpsests, recombinations, excisions, swarms, unfoldings, and turnings. In this exhibit, items from Drucker's personal collection and the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections join holdings from the University of Arizona Poetry Center's L. R. Benes Rare Book Room. Click here to read "Books, Artistexts, and Typopoiesis," an essay written by Drucker to accompany the exhibit.

This exhibit originally appeared in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from April 2, 2012 to June 29, 2012.

 

A Penciled Silhouette of Words: The Creative Life of Ruth Stephan

The year 2010 marked both the 50th anniversary of the University of Arizona Poetry Center and the 100th birthday of our founder, Ruth Walgreen Stephan (1910–1974). Many people know about Ruth Stephan as the philanthropist who began our Poetry Center with gifts of property, books, and an acquisitions endowment, all of which have made ours one of the leading contemporary poetry libraries in the nation. But not as many are familiar with her creative work as a writer, editor and poet. Ruth once wrote, “The first great shock of my life came when I was eight years old and discovered that everyone did not write poetry.” Although her father, a successful and traditional businessman, did not encourage her interest in poetry, she was nonetheless “swept forward on its exciting current” from the time she began to read.

Ruth Stephan’s first poem to gain international recognition, “Identity,” was published in Harpers in 1937. Ten years later she launched a groundbreaking journal of experimental arts and letters, The Tiger’s Eye. Focusing on the creative process, she published both the work and reflections of writers and artists such as William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Pablo Picasso, and Mark Rothko. By the time she started spending winters in Tucson in the early 1950s, she had already published her first book of poetry in Peru. Her ties with the University of Arizona deepened as she wrote two novels based on the life of Queen Christina, edited a book of songs and tales by the Quechua people (The Singing Mountaineers), and explored Zen in prose, film, and poetry while living in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Her poems of Kyoto, collected in Various Poems (1963), are, as she put it, “fired with the frequently frustrated wish to make the invisible within us visible.”

 

—Gail Browne, Executive Director, The University of Arizona Poetry Center

This exhibit, curated by Rodney Phillips and Wendy Burk, originally appeared in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from September 27, 2010 to January 3, 2011.

This exhibit showcases poet-artist collaborations from the Poetry Center's L. R. Benes Rare Book Room.

Curated by Rodney Phillips, Poet-Artist Collaborations was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from July 7 to September 2, 2008.

The colorful world of children’s literature has the ability to reveal what’s essential and to shed light on even the darkest experience.This exhibit features children’s books on the theme of war and peace from around the world.

Some of these books are written for children, while others contain writing by children. Some carry messages of hope, while others carry messages of sorrow. Something they all have in common is that they awaken our sense of empathy: feeling another person’s troubles and joys as if they were our own.

Our Exhibit Partners

Writing War, Writing Peace is presented in collaboration with the UA College of Education’s Worlds of Words International Collection of Children’s and Adolescent Literature. Kathy Short, Director of Worlds of Words, selected many of these volumes and generously allowed work from her library to be displayed. Worlds of Words is a collection of 25,000 works of literature for young people, focusing on world cultures and indigenous peoples. It is the largest collection of its kind in the United States, and provides services to researchers, students and community members. For more information, visit www.wowlit.org.

This exhibit also features recommendations from Bryan Davis, Youth and Holocaust Education Coordinator at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

The Coalition for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona is opening a Holocaust education resource center, including a library with more than 2,000 catalogued volumes of Holocaust-related literature. The center will be open to the public in fall 2011.  For more information, contact Bryan Davis at 577-939 or bdavis@jfsa.org.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, Sarah Kortemeier, Bryan Davis, and Kathy Short, was originally presented concurrently with the traveling art exhibit Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children's Paintings. Further information about Speak Peace can be found at http://www.speakpeace.net. Writing War, Writing Peace appeared in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from August 22 to September 21, 2011.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, University of Arizona visual art students collaborated with the Poetry Center (then known as the Ruth Stephan Poetry Center) to create silkscreen publicity posters for Poetry Center readings. Former Poetry Center Director Richard Shelton initiated a student competition to produce designs for these posters; the winning design for each reading was selected by the Poetry Center staff, produced by a professional lithographer, and distributed widely. The resulting posters are colorful, exuberant, and frequently emblematic of the times. Designs range from an op art-inspired poster for Lawrence Ferlinghetti to a poster incorporating the red sun of the Japanese national flag for a reading by Gary Snyder (who spent a number of years in Japan). The posters present a stunning array of famous names from the period, including Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Ai, James Tate, and Elizabeth Bishop.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, is on display in the Audio/Video Room of the Poetry Center Library. "Vintage Poetry Center Posters" may also be accessed through the Arizona Memory Project at http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/landingpage/collection/posters.

Literary Publishing in Tucson Since 1960

The years since the Poetry Center’s founding in 1960 have been an important time in Tucson’s literary publishing history. Tucson literary publishers are diverse, but common threads include an emphasis on innovative writing and Southwestern poets, including American Indian and Chicano/Latino voices, and strong roots in the fine press and/or DIY traditions.

A survey of contemporary press work in Tucson reveals many Poetry Center connections. Some of the publishers featured here are alumni or faculty of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program. Some of them fueled their interest in design and publishing as staff, volunteers, or library patrons here at the Poetry Center. Many of them were a part of the Poetry Center’s Tucson Lit Press Fest on Saturday, March 26, 2011. All of them are friends and admired partners in our shared endeavor to make Tucson a thriving center for literary culture.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from February 28 to April 9, 2011.

Since 2003, the Poetry Center has been bringing emerging poets to Tucson through The Next Word in Poetry, a series created by former Literary Director Frances Sjoberg. Looking back at the past seven years of Next Word poets, what unites this eclectic group is not just their (relative) emergence, but also the groundbreaking quality of their work. Here are contemporary poetry’s brightest stars—Dan Beachy-Quick, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, and Bhanu Kapil, to name a few—captured at an opening stage of their careers.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from January 4 to February 26, 2011.

Multilingual Poetry presents contemporary poets whose multilingual heritage plays a central role in their work. Their languages are Chamoru, English, French, Hawaiian Pidgin/Hawaiian Creole English, Japanese, Korean, Navajo, O'odham, Russian, Spanish, Spanglish, and Tagalog. This list, however, does not comprehend all of the languages that are their heritage, nor is 'multilingual' synonymous with 'bilingual.'

The poets of Filipino descent featured here, for example, come from a nation where more than 170 languages are spoken. For Mexican and Chicano/a poets, Spanish and Spanglish have deep and varied indigenous roots. The farther back any language is traced, the more it becomes multilingual all on its own.

On the heels of language comes language politics. Some of the poets featured here remember a time when they, or their parents, were punished for speaking a language other than English at school or in a public place. In resisting this constraint, they have opened a space for the multilingualism of subsequent generations. But the push for monolingualism and monoculturalism is hardly a thing of the past. Where some forces work to shut down, seal off, and contain, multilingual writers work to expand, forge links, and refresh: like language itself.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from August 16 to September 25, 2010.

A broadside is a single sheet of paper with printed text that is designed to be displayed like a poster. Originally designed for the quick dissemination of information, broadsides were posted in public places and distributed as addenda to newspapers; the Declaration of Independence had its first widespread distribution in broadside form. Recently, however, the broadside has evolved in both form and intention: the term now frequently refers to single-sheet presentations of individual poems, and the modern poetry broadside is made from a variety of materials, from the simple and inexpensive (such as cardstock and computer paper) to the luxurious and delicate (such as vellum and handmade papers). Poetry broadsides, therefore, have a remarkable artistic range. The broadside form allows for the re-imagining of text on the page: a poem can be scored differently on a broadside than it might be in a book, and the visual design of a broadside highlights and illuminates the text in unique and frequently surprising ways. Poetry broadsides are generally rare from their first printing, as they are often issued in limited editions of 100 or fewer. The Poetry Center’s collection includes hundreds of broadsides; the works in this exhibit represent some highlights from that collection.

This exhibit, curated by Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from June 1 to August 10, 2011.

Steve Orlen was an acclaimed poet, a formidable and compassionate teacher, and a friend to everyone he met. He taught at the University of Arizona for 37 years and helped to found its Creative Writing program. Steve was a tireless artist and observer, passionately interested in every poem, person, and conversation that came his way. We miss his buoyant personality, his belief in poetry, and his knack for asking difficult questions. Thank you, Steve, for your poems and for your good company.

This exhibit, curated by Sarah Kortemeier, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center in January 2011.

Artists make stuff. Books are objects. For the many artists, authors, and printers who are concerned about the size of their ecological footprint, the tension between creation and conservation is very real. Those who choose to explore the tension in sustainable ways are individual participants in an active conservation movement. They are also producing some of their most exciting work. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine celebrates a timely intention, beautifully and variously achieved.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from August 24 to November 3, 2009.

Arizona Board of Regents