A Portrait of Poetry

The Center for Creative Photography and the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona are delighted to collaborate to exhibit a captivating project by B.A. Van Sise in a celebration of the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth. Van Sise is a New York–based photographer with a lifelong love of poetry and a family lineage that traces back to seminal American poet Walt Whitman. Van Sise has undertaken an expansive and inventive poetry portraiture project. Beginning in 2015, he embarked on a quest to make portraits of American poets that reflect the diversity and vitality of today’s poetry scene. Each portrait is a creative endeavor in which the poet becomes more an actor than a model, performing a concept Van Sise has created based upon one of the author’s poems. These narratives sometimes relate closely to the text (which is presented alongside the photograph), while at other times the connection is more abstract. The resulting “portraits” are at once a likeness of the poet, an evocation of the poem, and a presentation of a visual narrative fashioned by the photographer. The exhibit will be open at the Center for Creative Photography from June 1 through November 23, 2019. 

Walking into the gallery, you'll be greeted by 80 photographs showcasing the breadth of American poetry today, including a who’s who of Pulitzer Prize winners, Poet Laureates, and Chancellors of the Academy of American Poetry.

The portraits are presented alongside the poems that inspired them, bringing full circle the poets, the words on the page, and the visual representations. 

Also displayed are the poets' books, inviting the viewer to delve even deeper into these poets' work. 

This fall, we'll be teaming up with the Center for Creative Photography to host readings at the CCP and the Poetry Center featuring several poets pictured in "A Portrait of Poetry." You don't have to wait long to hear more about B.A. Van Sise, the poets, and the exhibit, however. On Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 PM, join us for a conversation with Meg Jackson Fox, the Associate Curator for the Center for Creative Photography at Hotel Congress's Copper Room. Jackson Fox will give a short 20 minute talk about the exhibit and share some images. The event will feature complimentary snacks and a cash bar; doors at 5:30, program at 6pm. Learn more here.