Mission & Values

The Poetry Center believes in the power of poetry.

We are a small and people-oriented center that understands language is life. We are housed in the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona, a land grant and Hispanic-serving institution, which in its greatest incarnation is a vibrant place of creative thought and expansive imagination. We know we are all a part of one another and of this desert, the borderlands, and the unceded homelands upon which we live and labor. We are committed to work rooted in poetry, in joy, and in meaningful relationships.

We believe in critical love and radical hospitality. We thoughtfully exercise a respectful no at times, which allows us to offer a joyful yes whenever possible.

Our mission is to advance a diverse and robust literary culture that serves a local-to-global spectrum of writers, readers, and new audiences for poetry and the literary arts. 

Our values are defined by our community agreements, staff agreements, and guiding questions. 

Our community agreements include:

  • being honest about our capacity;
  • being flexible in our interactions and steadfast in our commitments;
  • being as accessible as possible to as many people as possible;
  • cultivating meaningful community relations
  • cultivating partnerships and collaborations that are reciprocal rather than merely transactional;
  • sharing successes;
  • sharing resources;
  • prioritizing multi-year collaborations;
  • leaving space for new partnerships in and beyond the Poetry Center
  • engaging in transparent communication and right relations with vendors and contract workers
  • putting forth our best effort to make amends when we make mistakes;
  • seeking feedback especially from voices not often heard including from first-time visitors, new audiences, and community partners; and
  •  listening and acting on what better aligns us with these agreements and our wildest dreams.

Our staff agreements include:

  • move at the speed of trust in our interactions, relations, and innovations;
  • value and prioritize creative freedom;
  • encourage and support professional development;
  • making space/taking space based on our capacities;
  • practice care that supports deep rest and resiliency;
  • recognize our shared humanity, strengths, and contributions in words and actions;
  • share resources and orient through abundance rather than scarcity;
  • foster cross-departmental collaborations and awareness of the whole;
  • make amends when we make mistakes and participate in conflict transformation when needed;
  • engage in transparent communication and right relations with one another;
  • offer generative feedback that centers care and critical love;
  • give grace, generosity, and listen.

Our guiding questions include:

  • Who feels welcome at the Poetry Center?
  • Who feels they have the right to the Poetry Center and its resources?
  • Who is not here?
  • How can we pursue our work and practice our values while centering our shared humanity?
  • How do we co-create belonging at and through the work of the Poetry Center?