Online Exhibitions

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.

Stanley Kunitz, 1962
Photograph of Stanley Kunitz by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Stanley Kunitz at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1962. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Stanley Kunitz was the inaugural reader in the Poetry Center's Readings and Lectures Series, which has presented more than a thousand poets since 1962, and which continues to the present day.

Robert Duncan, 1962
Photograph of Robert Duncan by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Robert Duncan at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1962. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

In a handwritten letter to Clark in the Poetry Center's institutional archives, Duncan remarked of this series of photos, "What a lousy haircut that was!... But you've also contrived to catch some almost handsome images."

Robert Creeley, 1963
Photograph of Robert Creeley by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Robert Creeley at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1963. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Robert Creeley visited the Poetry Center twice: on December 4, 1963, and exactly 39 years later on December 4, 2002. Recordings of both readings are featured online at the Poetry Center's audio video library, voca. Creeley's 1963 reading, at which LaVerne Harrell Clark captured this image, is the earliest audiovisual recording on voca.

Richard Wilbur, 1964
Photograph of Richard Wilbur by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Richard Wilbur at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1964. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

In this image, Richard Wilbur is seated outside of the Poetry Center's original guest cottage, where writers were housed during their visits to Tucson. Visible on the wall behind Wilbur is the wrought-iron legend "The Fieries and the Snuffies," a reference to an old cowboy song called "I Ride An Old Paint," which adorns the Poetry Center's guest cottage to this day. The Center's founder, Ruth Stephan, wrote that poets are fieries and snuffies: “They work in fiery bursts of creativity and then snuff out most of the results with an eraser.”

Gary Snyder, 1964
Photograph of Gary Snyder by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Gary Snyder at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1964. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Gary Snyder's three appearances at the Poetry Center, in 1964, 1969, and at the Center's 50th anniversary in 2010, are all captured in audio and video on voca, as well as in many photographs in the Center's archives.

May Swenson, 1965
Photograph of May Swenson by LaVerne Harrell Clark

May Swenson at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1965. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Most of the authors who read for the Poetry Center in the early 1960s were men, but this was to shift by the middle of the decade, thanks to readings by May Swenson, Ruth Stone, Louise Bogan, Denise Levertov, and Elizabeth Bishop.

C. Day Lewis, 1965
Photograph of C. Day Lewis by LaVerne Harrell Clark

C. Day Lewis at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1965. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Cecil Day Lewis visited the Poetry Center in 1965, several years before his appointment as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. This image shows LaVerne Harrell Clark's talent for portraying her subjects at intimate, conversational moments, rich with context.

L.D. Clark, LaVerne Harrell Clark, and William Meredith
Photograph of L.D. Clark, LaVerne Harrell Clark, and William Meredith

L.D. Clark, LaVerne Harrell Clark, and William Meredith at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1966.

LaVerne Clark occasionally used a remote shutter release and posed alongside of the many authors she counted among her friends. This image of poet William Meredith with Clark and her spouse L.D.--both authors in their own right--may be her own.

Robert Bly, 1966
Photograph of Robert Bly by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Robert Bly at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1966. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Robert Bly radiates energy in this 1966 portrait. Bly's reading for the Poetry Center during this visit can be listened to online on voca, the Center's audio video library.

Steve Orlen, 1967
Photograph of Steve Orlen, 1967, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Steve Orlen on the University of Arizona Mall, 1967. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

This image of a very young Steve Orlen, who would go on to teach in the University of Arizona's Creative Writing MFA program for four decades, embodies a cultural shift, as the suits and ties of the early 1960s were replaced by the casual dress and long hair of a new generation.

Richard Shelton, 1970
Photograph of Richard Shelton, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark
Photograph of Richard Shelton, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Richard Shelton in the Tucson Mountains, 1970. Photographs by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Quintessential Arizona author Richard Shelton has been affiliated with the University of Arizona Poetry Center since its earliest years. Here he poses in the Sonoran Desert landscape that features strongly in his writing.

Galway Kinnell, 1970
Photograph of Galway Kinnell, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Galway Kinnell at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1970. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Galway Kinnell poses in the doorway of the Poetry Center's guest cottage. Kinnell read for the Poetry Center four times between 1968 and 1992. Recordings of his readings can be listened to online on voca.

Jim Harrison, 1970
Photograph of Jim Harrison, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Jim Harrison at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1970. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Blossoms from the yucca plant appear behind Jim Harrison in this striking portrait. Harrison's reading for the Poetry Center on November 9, 1970 is accessible on voca.

Nicanor Parra, 1970
Photograph of Nicanor Parra, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Nicanor Parra on the University of Arizona Mall, 1970. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Chilean poet Nicanor Parra was one of the Poetry Center's earliest and most widely known international visitors.

Jon Anderson, 1970
Photograph of Steve Orlen, 1970, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Jon Anderson at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1970. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Like his close friend Steve Orlen, Jon Anderson was a beloved poet and teacher in the University of Arizona Creative Writing Program for nearly four decades, until his death in 2007.

Marvin Bell, 1972
Photograph of Marvin Bell, 1972, by LaVerne Harrell Clark
Marvin Bell, Steve Orlen, and Jon Anderson, 1972, by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Marvin Bell at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1972. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

Marvin Bell, Steve Orlen, and Jon Anderson, 1972. Photograph by LaVerne Harrell Clark.

By the time Marvin Bell read for the Poetry Center on February 21, 1972, poetry and poets had traveled a distance from the formal mores of a decade earlier. Bell's necklace features the universal om symbol, sacred to Dharmic religions.

Arizona Board of Regents