About the Poetry Center

OVERVIEW

The Poetry Center is a leading literary institution and a living archive of poetry. As a premier example of a thriving public/private partnership, the Poetry Center connects the University of Arizona with the greater literary community in Tucson and beyond. We have amassed one of the finest and largest print/digital collections of contemporary poetry in America, with an active schedule of acquisitions. We’ve welcomed over one thousand poets to Tucson to read. Our education programs annually serve Arizona school children, college students, and adults with poetry experiences. Our public/private partnership has invested in a permanent landmark home for poetry in the American Southwest, and this underscores our ongoing commitment to the future of poetry, poetics, literary arts, and the ever-growing diverse community that we serve and cherish.

MISSION

To advance a diverse and robust literary culture that serves a local-to-global spectrum of writers, readers, and new audiences for poetry and the literary arts.

BUILDING

Designed by Line and Space LLC, the Helen S. Schaefer Building, our 17,500-foot landmark facility, brings a contemporary note to the University of Arizona campus. Architect Les Wallach employed a design principle called 'a progression toward solitude.' As visitors move from west to east through the building's meeting and gathering spaces, they experience a gradual retreat into the peaceful solitude of the library collection. More info

CONTACT

University of Arizona Poetry Center  /  1508 East Helen Street, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0150  /  poetry@email.arizona.edu  /  Phone: (520) 626-3765  /  Fax: (520) 621-5566

HISTORY

The Poetry Center was founded in 1960 by writer, editor, and philanthropist Ruth Walgreen Stephan (1910-1974). Robert Frost read at the dedication of the Poetry Center. In 1962, the Poetry Center's visiting poet Reading and Lecture Series was inaugurated with a reading by Stanley Kunitz. Since that time more than 1,000 writers have read or lectured in the series, including most major contemporary U.S. poets, significant international visitors, and emerging artists. Over the years, the Center has benefited from the support of the University of Arizona, the English Department, and College of Humanities. In 2006, construction began on the Poetry Center's permanent home, the award-winning Helen S. Schaefer building. Construction was completed August 2007. In the new building, Poetry Center literary programs and collaborations have grown exponentially. The Poetry Center serves academic, community, and youth populations through its special collections library, suite of programs, and partnerships. More info

PROGRAMS

READING & LECTURE SERIES

Established in 1962, the University of Arizona Poetry Center Reading & Lecture Series presents readings by nationally known poets including Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, Arizona poets, lectures on poetry and literature, interdisciplinary performances, and outreach events at which writers of all ages share their creative work and are celebrated for their achievements. See our calendar for scheduled events. More info

DISCUSSION GROUPS

The Poetry Center hosts high-quality literature discussion groups that are free and open to the public. Shop Talk is our poetry discussion group format. A Closer Look Book Club discussions book-length works of prose. Pō é tree is a partnership between the University of Arizona Poetry Center and the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum. Poetry Circle is our monthly poetry discussion group meeting at the Oro Valley Public Library. More info

CLASSES & WORKSHOPS

Through the Classes & Workshops program, the Poetry Center offers continuing education in creative writing and literature. Non-credit courses taught by local and visiting writers, including University of Arizona faculty, meet in the evenings and on weekends. More info

EXHIBITIONS

The Poetry Center offers both art exhibitions and library exhibitions; select library exhibitions are archived online.

K-12 PROGRAMS

Young people have a natural capacity for language and a tremendous amount to say about their lives. To nurture and develop these abilities, the Poetry Center offers several programs and spaces designed to encourage young people to express themselves through creative writing. We also offer resources and support for teachers, parents, and artists who inspire youth to read, write, imagine, and play with words. The Poetry Center is dedicated to connecting classroom teachers with contemporary poets and providing the resources necessary to teach and host poetry readings at local schools. More info

SPEEDWAY & SWAN

Speedway & Swan is a fortnightly one-hour free-format radio program that presents contemporary poetry against a context of variously compatible and offbeat musical selections. Culling from the exceptional libraries of his partners, the University of Arizona Poetry Center and KXCI 91.3 Tucson Community Radio, creator and host Brian Blanchfield is joined in conversation each episode by a rotating guest co-host who brings to the hour a selection of poetry from his or her personal canon, which, along with the freshest and best from the "new shelves," they read live. Each show also features a recorded performance from voca, the Poetry Center's audio archive of its legendary poetry readings since 1963. Speedway & Swan represents a partnership between the Poetry Center and KXCI. More info

OUTREACH

The Poetry Center provides opportunities for literary education offsite. Through our Speakers Bureau, we provide poetry discussions and activities at venues and events around Tucson and the surrounding area. We serve as the institutional home of the Arizona Prison Writing Project, which brings creative writing workshops to Arizona inmates.