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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson ‘A truly amazing place for poetry’

    Jesus Barrera
    A look at the assortment of Poetry books available at the UA Bookstore on Monday, Sept. 5.

    Located on campus, the UA Poetry Center remains one of the most expansive collections of contemporary poetry in the nation. A lot of people may not think Tucson is the place to be if you are a poet, but Tucson is actually known for its artistic value within the poetry and creative writing communities.

    “Tucson is a truly amazing place for poetry,” said Peyton Prater Stark, a grad student in the poetry master of fine arts program at the UA. “The Poetry Center is a haven for poets around the country and, really, the world—they are always bringing in incredible writers to read and host workshops.”

    Stark explained that beyond the Poetry Center, there are many poetry events happening in Tucson.

    “POG is a great reading series that celebrates Tucson writers and brings poets to Tucson from all over,” Stark said. “[¡WIP! Works In-Progress] and Infuse are two reading series that UA MFA students host. Antigone Books is home to many readings and events throughout the year. There is just so much support for poets in Tucson, both from the university and outside of it. That is extremely rare.”

    Tucson offers its poets resources that are often unavailable to poets and students in other parts of the country.

    “The library itself is totally outstanding,” said Joshua Marie Wilkinson, a local poet and UA professor of creative writing and literature. “The availability itself is really remarkable. It is so much more than just a pile of books. … They also teach classes and are extremely well known for their multi-media archive.”

    Wilkinson said Tucson-southwestern culture has inspired his work.

    “The Southwest has influenced my poetry,” Wilkinson said. “This is the third time that I have lived here, and I oddly keep returning. The landscapes, mountains, weather and the people here in Tucson have definitely been influential to my work.”

    Along with Wilkinson, Dylan Imoehl, a sophomore who majors in psychology and criminal justice and minors in creative writing, uses Tucson’s passion for poetry to inspire his writing.

    Imoehl’s life-long dream is to become a published writer and he believes that his education here at the UA—paired with the support Tucson’s creative writing community provides—are what will really add to his success.

    There are consistent poetry readings happening around Tucson regularly.

    “Sometimes it feels like there is a poetry reading every night of the week,” Stark said. “There are readings at the Poetry Center, Antigone [Books], the Conrad Wilde Gallery—really, all over the city.”

    Aside from teaching at the UA, Wilkinson has also published seven poetry books and has been published in many literary journals such as The Harvard Review.

    “[In Tucson itself,] there are tons of students interested in poetry and there remains a big faculty here who are also writers,” Wilkinson said.

    Tucson is so much more than just a desert—it holds some of the most amazing poets, teachers and resources within the poetry community, according to Stark.

    “I wanted to come to Tucson because it felt like a place where poetry plays a real role beyond the university,” Stark said. “Lots of schools have great MFA programs, but in Tucson, there is support for poetry in the city. People in the community are interested in attending readings and workshops.”

    Stark said that though Tucson’s poetry community is substantial on its own, she really did factor in the Poetry Center when she chose where to go to college.

    “Honestly, one of my primary reasons for coming to Tucson was the Poetry Center,” Stark said. “It’s a unique gift to have a such a beautiful physical space dedicated to poetry. I wanted to be a part of it.”

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