Speedway & Swan Episode 29: VOCA special

A special episode of Speedway and Swan, hosted by Brian Blanchfield, featuring some of the standout moments across 53 years of recorded Tucson readings available through voca: the audio-video library maintained by the University of Arizona Poetry Readings. Readings by Seamus Heaney in 1976, Adrienne Rich in 1989, Nikki Giovanni in 2006, and Solmaz Sharif in 2016, as well as poems from Yannis Ritsos’s Diaries of Exile.

With musical selections by Dusty Springfield, Bettye Swann, Zeena Parkins, Bill Frisell, Victor Jara, and more.



Seamus Heaney | “Bogland” and “The Bog Queen” (collected in The Door in the Dark and North: Faber and Faber, 1969 and 1975), public reading, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Modern Languages Auditorium, March 30, 1976.

Adrienne Rich | “Harpers Ferry” (collected in Time’s Power: Norton, 1989), public reading, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Modern Languages Auditorium, March 22, 1989.

Nikki Giovanni | “The Yellow Jacket” (collected in Acolytes: Harper Collins, 2007), public reading, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Modern Languages Auditorium, February 26, 2006.

Yannis Ritsos | “November 24, 1948” and “May 24,” Diaries of Exile, tr. Edmund Keeley and Karen Emmerich. Archipelago Books, 2013.

Solmaz Sharif | “Look” (collected in Look: Graywolf, 2016), public reading, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, September 1, 2016.

SPEEDWAY & SWAN is a fortnightly, one-hour free-format radio program that presents contemporary poetry against a context of variously compatible and offbeat musical selections.  Culling from the exceptional libraries of his partners, the University of Arizona Poetry Center and KXCI 91.3 Tucson Community Radio, creator and host Brian Blanchfield is joined in conversation each episode by a rotating guest co-host who brings to the hour a selection of poetry from his or her personal canon, which, along with the freshest and best from the "new shelves," they read live. 

Most episodes also feature a recorded performance from Voca, the Poetry Center's audio archive of its legendary poetry readings since 1963. SPEEDWAY & SWAN represents a partnership between the Poetry Center, which archives the show in listenable format with an annotated playlist, and KXCI, where the show streams live.   

Since 1983, KXCI 91.3 FM has been committed to connecting Tucson and Southern Arizona to one another and to the world with informative, engaging, and creative community-based radio programming.

Brian Blanchfield is a poet and writer whose two books of poetry, Not Even Then and A Several World, have won him The James Laughlin Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and recognition as longlist finalist for the National Book Award. His third book, Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, was the winner of a 2016 Whiting Award in Nonfiction. Contact: speedwayandswan@gmail.com.