Tucson, Arizona. November 15, 2017— The University of Arizona Poetry Center, part of the College of Humanities, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Art for Justice Fund. The grant will fund a three-year project that will commission new work from leading writers in conversation with the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, with the goal of creating new awareness and empathy through presentation and publication. In particular, through the work of leading poets, the project will seek to confront racial inequities within the criminal justice system to promote social justice and change.
The Poetry Center will carry out the project in partnership with Reginald Dwayne Betts, a poet, lawyer, and public intellectual who writes and lectures on mass incarceration and American society, and who visited Tucson and read at the Poetry Center in September 2017. Over the three years of funding, the project will:
- commission and present new work in the Reading & Lecture series at the University of Arizona, in conversation will local organizations working for change in the criminal justice system;
- commission found-text poems and responses created from the language of representative federal and state legislation that has disproportionately affected people of color;
- seek to publish works created through the above commissions in leading publication venues through publishing partnerships;
- create a single-source archive for all new works on the Poetry Center’s website, including interactive platforms to encourage public participation in the found-text project.
Reginald Dwayne Betts said of the project, “This is an exciting opportunity to not only bring poets to the Arizona community who have been socially engaged while writing at the highest levels - but also to play a role in making that poetry truly exist as a part of larger and more public conversations around social justice in the United States.”
The University of Arizona Poetry Center, part of the UA College of Humanities, is housed in one of three landmark buildings for poetry in the nation. In addition to its world-renowned collection of contemporary poetry, the Poetry Center is known for its long running readings and lecture series, international symposia, classes and workshops, writers’ residencies, and a wide range of programs for children and youth. For more information, please visit poetry.arizona.edu or call (520) 626-3765.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center is part of a national coalition of poetry organizations working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Learn more about this coalition of organizations.