Announcing Fall 2018 Classes & Workshops

Through the Classes & Workshops program, the Poetry Center offers continuing education in creative writing and literature: writing workshops, generative writing studios, and literary seminars--in poetry and prose. Noncredit courses are taught by local and visiting writers, including University of Arizona faculty. There is room in our Classes and Workshops program for writers and readers of all levels of experience.

Our 2018-19 need-based Campau/Inman Scholarship program is newly expanded and improved. Applications for Fall 2018 scholarships will be accepted August 1st- August 10th. Registration will open one week later, on August 15th.

This fall, we're thrilled to be offering a wide range of opportunities at the Poetry Center, from one weekend workshops to six-week courses. Descriptions appear below.


Under the Skin: An Exploration of Autotheory w/ Ari Zwartjes

Photo of Ari Zwartjes

Class Meetings: Mondays 9/17-10/22, from 6:00 to 8:00pm

Alumni Room 205


“[T]heory can do more the closer it gets to the skin,” writes Sara Ahmed in Living a Feminist Life. 

Since 2015, when Maggie Nelson’s book The Argonauts referenced autotheory, the term has had some buzz in the literary world. Autotheory—which could be loosely defined as a mixture of philosophy, criticism, theory, and personal experience & narrative—is often hybrid not only in discipline, but also in genre and form. 

Over six weeks, we will examine various definitions of autotheory, as well as explore how various writers & artists are using autotheory to transgress genre- and discipline-boundaries. We will look at work by authors including Christina Sharpe, Maggie Nelson, Fred Moten, Dionne Brand, and Bhanu Kapil, and look briefly at the roots of autotheory in the intersectional writing and performance art of Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, and others. Together, we will consider how autotheory functions and what spaces it offers us as writers.

We will also write (both in and out of class) and share our writing with each other. We will begin with a series of writing exercises to accompany our reading and discussion; as the course progresses, our goal will be to write a draft of a short piece of autotheory-styled writing, and to workshop these short essays in class. This course is open to writers of all levels of experience. 

Instructor Bio:
Arianne Zwartjes has worked as an outdoor educator, a wilderness medicine instructor, an EMT, and a carpenter. She is the author of the lyric nonfiction project Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy (University of Iowa Press); a selection from Detailing Trauma won the 2011 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction and was a Best American Essays Notable Essay. Her writing can be found in Tarpaulin Sky, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Fourth Genre, Essay Daily, and elsewhere; her previous works include Disem(body), The Surfacing of Excess, and (Stitched) A Surface Opens: Essays. She has taught writing at the University of Arizona, the United World College, Pima Community College, Santa Fe Community College, the UA Poetry Center, Youth Speaks (now Urban Word), and elsewhere, and currently splits her time between northern Arizona and Colorado. Visit her and her writing at  




Reading and Writing the Poetry of Witness w/ Cynthia Hogue

Photo of Cynthia Hogue

Class Meetings: Tuesdays 10/30-11/20, from 6:00 to 8:00pm

Alumni Room 205


This course will be organized around the focus of Carolyn Forché’s ground-breaking thinking in the poetry of witness.  In four two hour sessions, we’ll discuss in the first hour samples of poetry written in that tradition (for example, Adrienne Rich, Jake Adam York, and Forché herself).  We’ll explore the four different types of “witness,” and consider how poets approach their subjects, address their concerns, and make their poems. Out of our readings, class members will be invited to generate writing that we share each week in the second hour—responsive, creative, expansive.  This course will be designed to offer a forum for participants to deepen their own generative processes in dialogue with the works we’re reading—and writing—together.  The class may include some workshop type feedback if there’s interest and time allows.

Instructor Bio:

Cynthia Hogue has published fourteen books, including nine collections of poetry, most recently In June the Labyrinth(2017).  She co-translated Fortino Sámano (The overflowing of the poem), from the French of Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy, which won the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets (2013).  Her latest co-translation is Joan Darc, from the French of Nathalie Quintane.  Among Hogue’s honors are NEA and Fulbright fellowships, and residency fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and the Anderson Center.  Hogue served as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Cornell University (2014) and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University (2003-2017).  She is Emerita Professor of English.




Flash Fiction w/ Dana Diehl

Photo of Dana Diehl

Class Meetings: Mondays 9/17 – 10/15 from 6:00 to 7:30pm

Conference Room 207


When we write short stories, what we don’t say is sometimes just as important as what we do. In this workshop, we will focus on reading and writing stories under 1,000 words. We will focus on conciseness, efficiency of language, lyricism, and specificity. In good flash fiction, rather than filling space, you are artfully clearing space. The challenge is in selecting the details that hint at the whole. Throughout the workshop, we will produce flash fiction through a variety of methods, including cutting away at longer works, playing with rhyming images, and experimenting with form. We will study the history of flash fiction by looking at authors such as Hemingway, Lydia Davis, and Italo Calvino. We will also look at modern flash fiction authors and challenge our concepts of what a narrative can be by exploring one-sentence stories as well as “Twitter stories.” Participants will create a new flash fiction piece for each week of the workshop.

Instructor Bio:
Dana Diehl is the author of Our Dreams Might Align (Splice, 2018) and TV Girls (New Delta Review, 2018). Her collaborative short story collection, The Classroom Beneath the Classroom, co-written with Melissa Goodrich, is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press in February 2019. Dana earned her MFA in Fiction at Arizona State University, where she also served as editor in chief of Hayden's Ferry Review. She has taught writing at Arizona State University, Florence Prison, the National University of Singapore, and Basis Tucson Primary. She lives in Tucson. 




Beyond Landscape: Writing Where You Are (Or Aren't) w/ Sarah Gzemski

Photo of Sarah Gzemski


Class Meetings: Tuesdays 9/25-10/16, from 6:00 to 8:00pm

 Alumni Room 205.

In this four-week generative poetry-writing class, we’ll be reading and writing poems that explore unconventional places.  

When writing about what’s most familiar to us, the landscapes around us (or the ones we’ve left behind) often find their way into our poetry. When reading, the best of these poems create an ache for a home we perhaps have never seen or reveal a truth hidden in plain sight.

Also true, however, is that place goes beyond just the physical space we occupy. It’s influenced by our mental/emotional/spiritual states, along with our identities: the context we bring to life and our poems. Together, we’ll explore the places poets create inside ourselves, outside of ourselves, and on the page to reckon with what needs reckoning.

So many of us have written a Tucson desert poem. What if the page were Tucson or the page were a desert? What would a poem look like then? What form would it take?  We’ll be experimenting with writing exercises that expand the idea of what a place can be and how we see ourselves, as writers, in it.

Instructor bio:

Sarah Gzemski is a poet living and working in Tucson, AZ. She is the Managing Editor of Noemi Press and the Publicity and Publications Coordinator at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. She also designs book covers and interiors. Her mixed-genre chapbook, Centralia, is available from Porkbelly Press. Her work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry ReviewFour Chambers, Bone Bouquet, and Coldfront, among others. 




Poetry as Matrix w/ Sarah Vap

Class Meetings: Saturday and Sunday, 11/3 – 11/4 from 1:00-5:00 pm

Alumni Room 205


Poetry as a Matrix, Hyperreality or Frame: poems about a (any) present moment

Climate change, a childhood memory of childhood, feeding the dog, the history of a feeling, an appointment, a loved one who is suffering, suffering ourselves... when writing a poem we make a decision at every moment about what of our psyche, our dailiness, and the world's psyche and dailiness can enter it. And we make a decision about what we leave out. We create boundaries and frames and invitations--and what is left out of a poem is often as important to the poem as what is inside of it. This two day class will involve close readings of contemporary and historical poems, and generative exercises toward writing and thinking about the matrices of poetry's present moment.