A Message From Executive Director Tyler Meier Regarding Fall Poetry Center Programs
From all here at the Poetry Center: we miss you. For each of you reading this, we hope you and your communities are finding ways to care for each other, and to endure. We register that hope even as the pandemic ravages and all its effects continue to deepen; as movements in every corner of the the nation renew calls for a national reckoning with racial injustice and memorialize lives lost to police violence; as we persevere in the midst of an oppressively, historically hot summer in Tucson and recover from a season in which the mountains north of our city burned out of control for weeks. We wish that we were announcing a fall season that included what we love most about the Poetry Center: welcoming you in person to our programs, our events, and our collections. Our great Poetry Center turns 60-years-old on November 17th, 2020, and we wish that we could celebrate that momentous occasion with you in person.
But the pandemic continues. And in an effort to protect the health of our community, our staff, and of the many poets with whom we interact each year, we’ve decided to extend our operating mode from the spring and to forgo all events this fall where people gather in person: our reading series, our educational programs, and our in-person classes and workshops. Because our library features an open-stacks format that invites browsing and handling books, we’ll keep the library closed this fall to public access (though robust virtual reference options are available!). We make these decisions with the health of each other foremost in our minds.
At the same time: we know that poetry offers so much that we desperately need right now. It reminds us that our individual experiences of the world matter, no matter how difficult the circumstances; it reminds us that the ability to see the world through another’s eyes can exponentially expand our sensibilities, teach us about our differences, and deepen our empathy for one another. Poetry teaches us the original power embedded in close attention to the world, in all its difficulty and wonder.
We are so thrilled to soon announce an anniversary season full of ways to connect with all that poetry offers through digital tools, including many new initiatives we are sharing for the first time here:
- Our podcast, Poetry Centered, is growing. Two episodes remain in season one, and we’re excited to announce a season two, slated to release in November. Each episode features a contemporary poet who curates three poems from the Poetry Center’s leading audiovisual archive, Voca, and closes with the poet sharing a poem of their own. It’s a great way to be introduced to poetry and to learn about 20th century voices influencing leading contemporary practitioners. Learn more here.
- We are proud to announce the launch of a new virtual Institute for Inquiry and Poetics. With four planned actions each year, the Institute will invite a cohort of poets to offer responses to themes of social importance. This fall, look for features in October led by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and in December with poet Luis Rodriguez that invite poets to explore the relationship between imaginative language and belonging—through published responses, readings, and in a panel format, all online at poetry.arizona.edu.
- While the Poetry Center Library will remain closed to the public for the fall, we’re excited to offer extensive virtual reference services. Starting Wednesday, August 26th, we’ll launch Ask a Librarian. You can expect to speak with our library staff by phone for your reference needs on Wednesdays from 1-4pm by calling the Poetry Center mainline at 520-626-3765. Reference queries by email are always welcome, and we endeavor to respond to all queries within one business day; write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your library requests.
- We are thrilled to announce a partnership in our Classes and Workshops program with the Shipman Agency, featuring courses taught by writers represented by the agency, designed from writers at all levels—from single session course to multi-week offerings. Look for offerings from Alexander Chee, Carl Phillips, Tess Taylor, Roy Guzman, Lillian Yvonne-Bertram, Garth Greenwell, and Hilary Lorenz in a special announcement on social media and via email next week.
- Our K-12 Education programs will move forward in digital and virtual formats; our Writing the Community residences will place teaching artists in virtual residencies with 15 TUSD classrooms this fall. Our Kids Create programs will take place monthly in a virtual format. For the fall season, we’ll suspend our in-person matinee program with visiting poets and our in-person field trip experiences at the Poetry Center, but look for extensive educational offerings that we’ll be update all Fall on poetry.arizona.edu: educational blog posts, lesson plans, and other material that can be adapted for students.
- We’re thrilled to launch Director’s Choice, a program that features historical readings from the Poetry Center’s extensive audiovisual archive Voca, curated by past and present leadership of the Poetry Center. Using a listening party format, we’ll represent these seminal, historical readings in their entirety. Director’s Choice is one of the ways we’ll celebrate our 60th anniversary, and we’ll feature readings from each decade of the Center’s existence, sharing work from Robert Creeley, Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, W.S. Merwin, Alberto Rios, Ofelia Zepeda, Sherwin Bitsui, and Terrance Hayes.
- Our exhibits program will go virtual, with a special exhibit featuring sixty excellent new acquisitions selected for the Rare Book Room in celebration of our milestone anniversary. You’ll be able to learn about each new book in an online format. You can view our current online exhibitions here.
- We hope you plan to join us on November 17th, at 6pm (AZ Time) for a virtual anniversary celebration. Learn about our recent successes, hear from many leading poets on the importance and value of the Center, and learn more about what comes next for the Poetry Center.
In addition to the programs noted above, we are excited to bring forward other ways that we’ll adapt our fall season and mark our milestone anniversary. Look for the fall print calendar with your invitation to the anniversary celebration starting the week of Sept. 15th, and throughout our digital spaces, newsletter, and social media all fall.
We are so grateful for our supporters and our community! We truly miss you and we eagerly look forward to the time when we can safely welcome you back to the Poetry Center in person again. Until then, we send all best from our zoom rectangles to yours—
University of Arizona Poetry Center