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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New poetry center director aspires to national presence

    Michaela Kane
    Michaela Kane/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Tyler Meier, who was recently appointed the new Executive Director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, showcases one of the many collections of poetry at the UA center. Meier, who was previously managing editor at the Kenyon Review literary magazine, started work at the UA on Aug. 5, 2013.

    From his office in the Modern Languages building, newly appointed Poetry Center Director Tyler Meier clearly illustrates his vision for the center — expanding its national profile.

    Meier arrived in Tucson after spending nearly six years as managing editor of The Kenyon Review, a journal spotlighting international culture, literature and art in Gambier, Ohio.

    Although his first day at the UA was Aug. 5, Meier had been under consideration for the position since January. After a phone interview and a few campus visits, he received a formal job offer in late spring. He describes his new role as a “dream job” and an “incredible opportunity.”

    “It was like I was in a city, looking through shop windows,” Meier said, referring features of the center such as its rare book collection and meditation garden. “I loved my job at The Kenyon Review, but this job is so exciting.”

    Meier, the second-oldest of three brothers, grew up in the rural city of Delaware, Ohio. The town’s blue-collar atmosphere influenced the work ethic Meier learned during hours spent baling hay with his father and brothers, he said.

    “I hated it for a large part of my childhood,” Meier said.
    Meier eventually found his calling working in the literary arts, and his peers are quick to praise his expertise.

    “He has all the talent in the world,” said David Lynn, editor of The Kenyon Review, where Meier had worked as a managing editor since August 2007. “I was very sad to lose him.”

    Meier was also a student in one of Lynn’s classes at Kenyon College during the 1999 school year.

    Although Meier will be tasked with many challenges as the center’s new executive director, Lynn expressed full confidence in his former colleague’s abilities.

    “[Serving as executive director] is very different from being a ‘number two’ in an organization,” Lynn said, “but I have no doubt that he will flourish.”

    Meier has also already made an impression with his new colleagues on campus, including students.

    “I’m super excited to work with him,” said Jessica Jenkins, a second-year graduate student studying creative writing and the Poetry Center’s marketing assistant. “He’s really available. He always pops up to say hi.”

    Jenkins said she would like to see Meier sustain an attitude of “keeping an open mind and [being] ready to take on the unexpected,” while having the center “become an important resource for writers around the world.”

    Meier said he has begun crafting what he thinks is the right formula to reach this goal. Reading series, K-12 outreach and volunteer opportunities are all programs that he would like to see continue. Social media and the expansion of the center’s website will also be crucial, and never forgetting the communities that the center serves is essential, he added.

    “I hope that the national footprint for the center is a bigger one,” Meier said. “But not at the expense [of] how we serve the regional and local community.”

    Perhaps the most significant and simplest approach that Meier plans to implement during this transitional period is to listen.
    “I’ve got a lot of listening to do,” he said. “There are a lot of great people here. I’m really excited about creatively thinking with this staff.”

    Regardless of the outcome of Meier’s first weeks in office, he knows that there’s always room for improvement — and that’s something he’s ready for.

    “We can always get better on how we do the things we do,” he said. “Those kind of conversations I’m excited to engage in.”

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