The University of Arizona

Campus Poetry Center Utilizes Blend of Humanities

By Tyler J. McDowell-Blanken, University Communications | April 11, 2012

For decades, the UA Poetry Center has advanced the art of poetry, but it also is deeply invested in literature and the arts.

The UA Poetry Center serves as a space for students and community members to develop and express their interest in the humanities. (Photo credit: Scott Kirkessner)
The UA Poetry Center serves as a space for students and community members to develop and express their interest in the humanities. (Photo credit: Scott Kirkessner)
More than 70,000 items of literary and poetic work are housed at the center, which is traditionally known for its devotion to poetry, though the center's staff also promote literature and the arts. (Photo credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)
More than 70,000 items of literary and poetic work are housed at the center, which is traditionally known for its devotion to poetry, though the center's staff also promote literature and the arts. (Photo credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)

What immediately comes to mind when you think of the University of Arizona Poetry Center? Probably that the space is for poetry and experienced poets.

But this could not be further from the truth. By visiting the space, the interplay among poetry, art and literature are evident.

"We try to cover all territories while encouraging creative thought. Each component (poetry, art and literature) helps individuals question their own thought process," said Annie Guthrie, a marketing associate and exhibit curator for the UA Poetry Center.

Young and old, experienced and inexperienced, from the suburbs or from downtown, the Tucson community plays a crucial role in the center's overall success. 

Creative writing senior Joseph Loeffler first learned of the Poetry Center last summer after completing an introductory poetry writing course. 

"I hadn't actually visited the center until this past fall," Loeffler said. Luckily for him, there was still enough time to engage in the student poetic contents the center holds each semester.

This past fall, Loeffler was selected for one of three 2011 Hattie Lockett Awards, which goes to UA seniors who show promise in the area of poetry. Loeffler's poem entitled, "historical trends in upwind migration and reproductive patterns," centers on topics of love and coming of age.

"The center is important because it's so comprehensive," said Loeffler, referring to the extensive collection of more than 70,000 items including a rare book collection and an audio video library.

Some of the center's upcoming events, all of which will be held on site at the Helen S. Schaefer Building at 1508 E. Helen St., include: 

  • An April 12 talk at 6 p.m. about Leslie Marmon Silko's famed novel, "Ceremony."
  • As part of the New Directions in Critical Theory conference on main campus, Renato Rosaldo will provide a 5:30 p.m. reading April 13. Rosaldo is an internationally known cultural anthropologist who began writing poetry in English and Spanish while recovering from a stroke in 1996.
  • The center will hold an April 14 memorial tribute in honor of UA alumnus, poet and publisher Morgan Lucas Schuldt, who died in January. The co-founder of CUE, a journal of prose poems, Schuldt also authored a collection of poems and three chapbooks. The tribute will be held April 14 from 3-5:30 p.m.
  • "ARTISTEXTS," curated by Johanna Drucker will remain open through June 29. Drucker, an internationally renowned author, book artist and visual theorist, selected more than 20 artists books to display.  
  • On May 2, Master of Fine Arts students in the UA's creative writing program will present readings at 7 p.m. A second reading will be held May 3, also at 7 p.m. 

Also this year, the Poetry Center is holding a three-day symposium focusing on bringing together poets and artists from diverse communities to the UA.

"Poetry Off the Page," the center's third biennial symposium, will be held May 18-21, with performances, panel discussions, classes and other presentations. Tickets are $50 for students and $120 for the general public, and online via the UA Foundation website. Prices are set to increase after April 18.

The event will speak directly to the Poetry Center's interdisciplinary focus on poetry, literature and the arts, each of which directly encourages the intellectual and emotional engagement of individuals, Guthrie said. 

"All of these art forms can be linked to happiness and self-knowledge," Guthrie said. "Each can help maintain one's youth and vitality."

A published poet herself, Guthrie is a prime example of the passion and distinct insight that the center's staff provides because she cares deeply about the art form and has experience in the profession.

Each member of the main staff has professional experience in poetry, art or literature – sometimes a mix of each – and is keenly enthusiastic about sharing in the humanities, Guthrie said.

With the availability of scheduling a tour, field trip, or attending an event held by the center, the opportunities to get involved and embrace your individual creativity are endless.

"People of all ages can feel comfortable here," Guthrie said. "The Poetry Center is a community center and a home for you."

Contacts

Annie Guthrie

UA Poetry Center

520-626-4310

guthrie@email.arizona.edu