The Tom Sanders Memorial Reading is an annual presentation in the Poetry Center's Reading and Lecture series. Established by the generosity of Tom's friends in 2017, this event features writers who were former students at the University of Arizona, writers who were formerly or currently members of the University of Arizona faculty, or University of Arizona Press authors.
Tom Sanders was born in California in 1944. He spent the majority of his life in Arizona, and fell in love with the University of Arizona as a first year student, where he studied creative writing with Richard Shelton. Tom went on to work for the Univeristy for more than 30 years, including stints with Residence Life, Athletics Administration, the Medical Center and for the University of Arizona Foundation, where he was the chair of the capital fundraising effort Campaign Arizona. He was a longstanding member of the University of Arizona Poetry Center's Development Council, and played a major role in the effort to raise funds for the Helen S. Schaefer building, the Poetry Center's landmark home. Later, Tom was instrumental in the Poetry Center's effort to establish a Programs Endowment to provide ongoing support for Poetry Center programs: our reading series, our library activities, and our educational services in the community and in service of the University's mission.
Tom's interest in poetry was lifelong, and stemmed from a deep love of language and communication. He was a prolific letter writer, and often shared his opinions in letters to the editors of both the Arizona Daily Star and the Arizona Wildcat. His seasonal greetings at the end of each year included an original poem reflecting on the year and on the future. He would often share a poem that he had recently discovered as part of the business proceedings at Poetry Center Development Council meetings. He loved reading and believed deeply in the value of education and the power of books.
Tom Sanders died on March 14th, 2016.