Aging and the Arts Poetry Circle: Richard Shelton

Saturday, April 15, 2023 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

New spring 2023 location! This event will take place in the breezeway the University of Arizona Poetry Center, an indoor/outdoor space.  All are welcome! 

Join us for monthly poetry discussions, led by docents from the UA Poetry Center. The event is free, and no preparation or knowledge of poetry is necessary to participate.  A reading packet will be shared.  For anyone who enjoys poetry or learning more about poets in a conversational setting, this informal gathering includes many opportunities to contribute to the conversation and ask questions. It is also a great way to meet people in the community who have similar interests. 

Since 1956, Shelton lived in Southern Arizona where he was a Regents Professor (emeritus) at the University of Arizona.  He has been director of the Creative Writing Program and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, a Faculty Fellow, and a Flinn Scholar mentor.

From 1980 to 1982, he was one of the three judges of the Lamont Poetry Award of the Academy of American Poets. Shelton served two terms as president of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) and was National Honorary Chancellor of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. In 1991, he and his wife, Lois Shelton, were joint recipients of the Governor’s Award for support of the arts in Arizona. In 2000, Shelton received a $100,000 Completion Grant from the Lannan Foundation.  In 2006, he received the University of Arizona's Henry and Phyllis Koffler Prize for outstanding accomplishment in teaching, and, with his wife Lois, the Arizona Book Festival's inaugural Arizona Literary Treasure Award. 

Governor Janet Napolitano proclaimed April 22, 2006, "Richard Shelton Day" to recognize his accomplishments as a writer, his service to the Poetry Center and the University, and his mentorship of fledgling writers both inside and outside the University.   

​His first book, The Tattooed Desert, won the International Poetry Forum's United States Award in 1970. His fourth book, The Bus to Veracruz, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Writer’s Fellowships (one in poetry and one in nonfiction) and three Borestone Mountain Awards, including First Award in Borestone Mountain’s Best Poems of 1971. In all, Shelton has published twelve books or chapbooks of poetry, and his poems and essays have appeared in more than 200 magazines and literary journals (including the New Yorker, Poetry, Harper’s, The Atlantic, the Paris Review, Kayak, the American Poetry Review, and the Antioch Review), and have been translated into Spanish, French, Swedish, Polish and Japanese. National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corporation have featured his work, and Shelton read at colleges and universities throughout the country. American composers have set many of his poems to music.

Shelton's first book of creative nonfiction, Going Back to Bisbee, won the Western States Book Award in 1992 and was honored as a "One Book Arizona." The book has sold nearly 50,000 copies and is in its 12th printing at the University of Arizona Press. In October 2007, the Press released his second book of nonfiction, Crossing the Yard.

In 1974, Shelton established, under the auspices of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a Creative Writer’s Workshop at the Arizona State Prison. In 2016, the program expanded to also include maximum security federal prison. Many books of poetry and prose by the men in these workshops have been published, including the anthology Do Not Go Gentle. Since 1991, these workshops have been supported by grants from the Lannan Foundation. Past and present members of the workshop continue to publish poetry and prose in dozens of journals and have also published books with, most recently, Mercury House, the University of Arkansas Press, and the University of Arizona Press.