With Poetry Out Loud just around the corner, we're excited to introduce you to some of the people who make this exciting program run! Iliana Garcia is the regional partner for Central Arizona, and the Events Manager at ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Iliana Garcia and I am an event management professional. I’m originally from New York and have been calling Chandler, Arizona my home since 2016. It was a big, yet much needed, change. It was also a great exercise in practicing minimalism; I drove across the country and only brought what could fit in my vehicle! I have a deep appreciation for all forms of expressive art. When I’m not reading a good book, I can be found at a farmers’ market, participating in an insight meditation retreat, enjoying a wine tasting or improv comedy show, spending time with my two dogs Daisy & Maverick, and volunteering at a dog event.
Tell us about your organization.
The mission and values are what attracted me to Arizona State University. The organization is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” Additionally, ASU has been ranked #1 in the U.S. for innovation since 2016. I worked at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts for my first six years and transitioned to the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at the ASU Tempe campus on August 29, 2022. I’m excited to move forward with the center as the Events Manager, working on readings and talks, community outreach initiatives, the annual Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, and other events for the literary community. This role allows me to reconnect with my roots in English while also continuing to find enjoyment in the events space. It’s a great place to be!
What is your Poetry Out Loud role?
I am the regional partner for Central Arizona, engaging with students and teachers, and facilitating our regional semi-final competition. I think it’s an excellent program for youth to participate in; the benefits and skills that they gain are long-lasting.
When did you first learn about Arizona’s Poetry Out Loud program? How long have you participated in the program?
I first learned about the program when I joined the Piper Center, so it’s my first year participating!
What do you enjoy most about Poetry Out Loud?
Although it’s my first time being involved with the program, I anticipate that I’ll enjoy the various student performances the most, witnessing how they each infuse their own interpretation and personality.
What is your favorite poem from the Poetry Out Loud anthology?
That’s a tough one! Being that this role is my first introduction to the program, I have not yet had the opportunity to hear any recitations or take a good look at the variety of poems in the anthology. But I’m sure I’ll conclude this year’s competitions with a few favorites!
What are you looking forward to with this year’s Poetry Out Loud program?
I look forward to hearing which poems resonated with students. Their selections speak to their lived experiences, emotions, etc. and these will surely be reflected in their recitations.
Tell us about your artistic practice. Where can we find your work?
I am not a published writer, but I do have some experience in scripted performances. After reading a piece of work, I take some time to reflect, often with a journal, noting how it made me feel. Then I sit with that for a while, which often brings me back to a lived experience or a time when similar feelings were recurring. In other instances, I listen to different narratives that reflect similar emotions and I try to channel that. This helps manifest the intended emotion from the page into my performance.