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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Poetry Center has new home

    Charles Alexander reads one of his poems to hundreds of spectators attending the housewarming festival for the UA Poetry Center. Alexander, a Tucsonan, has been writing poems for 23 years. The center celebrated with live music, performances, food and bookmaking.
    Charles Alexander reads one of his poems to hundreds of spectators attending the housewarming festival for the UA Poetry Center. Alexander, a Tucsonan, has been writing poems for 23 years. The center celebrated with live music, performances, food and bookmaking.

    “”Today we are opening our doors to the Tucson community and saying this house of poetry is a home for you.””

    Those were the words uttered by Frances Sjoberg, the UA Poetry Center’s literary director, to hordes of poetry buffs and excited Tucsonans at a housewarming party to celebrate the opening of the UA’s Poetry Center yesterday afternoon.

    The new center in the Helen S. Schaefer building, 508 E. Helen St., houses the Poetry Center’s archive of more than 60,000 items, one of the largest collections in the country, Sjoberg said.

    “”We have one of the most distinct poetry collections in the world, and today we want to celebrate that, and the testament that poetry is important to our community,”” she said.

    The new center will also be the home to poetry classes, seminars and workshops.

    The event kicked off at noon with a musical jam session followed by poetry readings, speeches and storytelling.

    Food

    This center is a great gift, a way in which the written word will help us live in this world better.

    -Robert Hass,
    poet

    stands and club booths run by volunteers promoting upcoming events were dispersed outside, as browsers of all ages took in the scene while listening to poets from the Odyssey Storytellers or the Tucson Poetry Slam Team.

    Jacob Levine, an English and creative writing senior who often competes and hosts poetry slams for the Slam Team, said he loves the new building.

    “”I have classes here and it’s awesome to be surrounded by poetry when you’re going to a poetry class in a venue kind of off campus, but still a part of it,”” he said. “”It’s definitely gonna help bring poetry back into the public sphere.””

    Several nationally renowned poets including former U.S Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Brenda Hillman, Alberto Ríos and Robert Hass shared their work with the audience.

    “”I hope you’re all proud of what your community has given you as a gift to the community, to the country,”” Robert Hass said before reading from his poem about violence and war, titled “”I Am Your Waiter Tonight and My Name is Dmitri.””

    “”This center is a great gift, a way in which the written word will help us live in this world better,”” Hass said. “”It will host a
    language for loving and taking care of Tucson – we need a language for the community.””

    Tenney Nathanson and Jane Miller were among the many UA professors who read some of their work. Nathanson read from his book about globalization, “”Ghost Snow Falls Through the Void.””

    The architectural firm Line and Spaced designed the new building to reflect the power of poetry and how it “”breaks the laws of gravity”” and moves in angles and slopes, according the
    center’s brochure.

    The UA donated $1.9 million and private donors contributed $4.3 million toward its new construction, Sjoberg said. The Poetry Center was originally founded in 1960 by Ruth Stephan.

    The new building is worthy of its national ranking, Nathanson said.

    “”Not everyone in Tucson is aware that we have a nationally recognized center; it will be a terrific research center,”” he said.

    Shloka Mangharam, a creative writing senior and intern at the center said she thinks the new building is a great addition to campus because anyone is welcome to stop by and browse through the shelves of poetry on display.

    “”All the people here are very poetic and creative,”” she said.

    Sjoberg said she thinks the new center will also help to inspire individuals who may not be very keen on poetry.

    “”Poetry helps everyone to think more critically,”” Sjoberg said. “”Skills that will put anyone into leadership positions.””

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