The University of Arizona Poetry Center is pleased to announce the first five ambassadors in its multi-year Art for Justice Project, supported by the Art for Justice Fund. The 2018-19 ambassador cohort includes poets Randall Horton, Nikky Finney, Evie Shockley, Patrick Rosal, and Natalie Diaz.
Over the course of the next year, each ambassador will undertake a substantial new creative project that explores the legacy of mass incarceration on contemporary American life. These projects will address one or more of the four key challenges identified by the Art for Justice Fund:
1) Policing that preys on racial difference and economic disadvantage
2) Unfair bail policies that incarcerate people before trial based largely on their poverty
3) Prison stays that are racially disparate and too long for all offenses;
4) People who enter the system stay in the system.
Ambassadors were selected by the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Leadership team, which includes poet and lawyer Reginald Dwayne Betts, publicist Kima Jones of Jack Jones Literary Arts, Poetry Center Executive Director Tyler Meier, and Poetry Center Literary Director Diana Delgado.
In addition to commissioning new work, the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice project includes support to seek publication for the commissioned work, and to archive that record of publication on the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s website, poetry.arizona.edu.
Ambassadors will present their commissioned work in the Reading and Lecture Series at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Each reading will feature a short presentation from an Arizona organization or artist working for change in the justice system. The first presentation will feature Randall Horton on Thursday, November 15th, at 7pm at the Poetry Center and will feature a short performance from the Tucson artist’s collective Ojalá Systems. Reading and Lecture Series events are free, open to the public, and each event will be recorded and made available on voca.arizona.edu.
The spring 2019 visits will all occur at 7pm at the Poetry Center, will feature Nikky Finney on February 7th, Evie Shockley and Patrick Rosal, March 21st, and Natalie Diaz on April 4th.
In conjunction with each presentation, the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Community Engagement Specialist Joe Watson will send a curated set of 3-4 Flikshops () to a list of 250 writers who are currently incarcerated; this list will continue to receive Flikshop updates through the project with each Ambassador visit. This effort will help include incarcerated writers in the growing conversation around each presentation.