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Poetry Centered

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Poetry Centered features curated selections from Voca, the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s online audiovisual archive of more than 1,000 recordings of poets reading their work during visits to the Center between 1963 and today. In each episode, a guest poet introduces three poems from Voca, sharing their insights about the remarkable performances recorded in our archive. Each episode concludes with the guest poet reading a poem of their own.

Location:

United States

Description:

Poetry Centered features curated selections from Voca, the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s online audiovisual archive of more than 1,000 recordings of poets reading their work during visits to the Center between 1963 and today. In each episode, a guest poet introduces three poems from Voca, sharing their insights about the remarkable performances recorded in our archive. Each episode concludes with the guest poet reading a poem of their own.

Language:

English


Episodes

Sawako Nakayasu: Grief Textures

1/31/2024
Sawako Nakayasu selects poems that confront griefs personal and national, told directly and obliquely. She introduces Timothy Liu documenting the atrocities of Japanese imperialism (“A Requiem for the Homeless Spirits”), Daniel Borzutzky’s translation of Raul Zurita witnessing to the brutal crimes of the Chilean dictatorship (“Song for His Disappeared Love”), and Keith Waldrop conjuring a grief-riddled dream landscape (“An Apparatus”). Nakayasu closes with her own “Ant in a silvery tide,” a poem linked to a time of personal grief. Find the full recordings of Liu, Borzutzky, and Waldrop reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Timothy Liu (February 20, 2014) Daniel Borzutzky (January 10, 2019) Keith Waldrop (with Rosmarie Waldrop, March 5, 2011) You can also enjoy three recordings of Nakayasu reading for the Poetry Center in 2007, 2018, and 2023.

Duration:00:44:05

Jake Skeets: Saad, Where We All Started

12/13/2023
Jake Skeets curates poems by Diné poets centering on translation and the way that the Diné language orients its speakers to the world, which exists before them. He shares Rex Lee Jim’s invocation of voice as what brings life (“Language”), Laura Tohe’s embodiment of meaning in rhythm and sound (“Niltsá Bi'áád, Female Rain” and “Niltsá Bika', Male Rain”), and Luci Tapahonso’s blending of Diné syntax with English (“Hills Brothers Coffee”). Skeets closes with his poem “Emerging,” which traces the act of translation between English and Diné. Watch the full recordings of Jim, Tohe, and Tapahonso readings for the Poetry Center on Voca: Rex Lee Jim (2001) Laura Tohe (2011) Luci Tapahonso (2011)

Duration:00:30:10

Sally Wen Mao: Poetic Awakening

11/29/2023
Sally Wen Mao shares poems that trace her awakening as a poet, invoking teachers both in person and on the page. She introduces Claribel Alegría on how to express the unknowable and untraceable (“Savoir Faire”), Terrance Hayes on transformation as the role of poetry in the world (“The Deer”), and Bhanu Kapil on poetic language as a means of collapsing borders (“Humanimal”). Mao concludes with her poem “a dream or a fox,” written after Lucille Clifton’s “A Dream of Foxes.” Find the full recordings of Alegría, Hayes, and Kapil reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Claribel Alegría (1997) Terrance Hayes (2016) Bhanu Kapil (2008)

Duration:00:36:14

Lauren Camp: Our Little Perfections

11/15/2023
Lauren Camp selects poems that each inhabit a place, a music, another person—shaping a cosmos large or small in language. She introduces Beckian Fritz Goldberg synchronizing past and present (“Black Fish Blues”), Olga Broumas moving through shadows toward individual lives (“The Moon of Mind Against the Wooden Louver”), and Lisel Mueller cherishing names as a beginning (“Naming the Animals”). Camp closes with her poem “Ode to Two,” where land, house, and lovers are celebrated by light. Listen to the full recordings of Goldberg, Broumas, and Mueller reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Beckian Fritz Goldberg (1994) Olga Broumas (1988) Lisel Mueller (1981)

Duration:00:23:13

Sophia Terazawa: Enemy, Beloved

7/26/2023
Sophia Terazawa introduces poems that lead us to encounter both the beloved and the enemy, seeing them blurred and intertwined—seeing them as human. She shares Joy Harjo’s prayer of courage for the heart (“This Morning I Pray for My Enemies”), Khaled Mattawa’s recognition of the faceless dead (“Face: To the One Million Plus”), and Carolyn Forché’s liturgy for the last hour (“Prayer”). To close, Terazawa reads her poem “Gibbons Howling,” a prayer spoken from dreams into dust. Watch the full recordings of Harjo, Mattawa, and Forché reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Joy Harjo (2017) Khaled Mattawa (2018) Carolyn Forché (2007)

Duration:00:33:58

Bonus: Radical Reversal in Birmingham

4/12/2023
Radical Reversal highlights the reformative abilities of the arts by bringing poetry, music, and music production workshops—along with performance and recordings spaces—to detention centers and correctional facilities. In this bonus episode, Radical Reversal co-founder Randall Horton shares recordings from three youth writers and performers who worked with Radical Reversal at Jefferson County Youth Detention Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Poet Patrick Rosal makes a guest appearance on flute for the track "Aint No Love in the Streets." To watch readings by poets whose work engages with the crisis of mass incarceration in the US, check out Voca for recordings from the Poetry Center's Art for Justice series.

Duration:00:16:11

Manuel Paul López: Small and Immense Mysteries

3/29/2023
Manuel Paul López curates poems that draw us into the nourishing mysteries of water. He shares Ofelia Zepeda’s evocation of moisture’s deep ties to people and land ("The Place Where Clouds Are Formed"), Li-Young Lee’s meditation on weeping and the gifts given by those we’ve lost ("'Why are you crying,' my father asked…"), and Quincy Troupe’s precise, tender visions of sunlight and sea ("The Point Loma Series of Haikus and Tankas"). López closes with "Green Water," his own meditation on "the wild taste of self-preservation." You can watch the full recordings of Zepeda, Lee, and Troupe reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Ofelia Zepeda (2015) Li-Young Lee (2020) Quincy Troupe (2001)

Duration:00:28:02

Evie Shockley: Courage to Speak, Courage to Hear

8/24/2022
Poet and professor Evie Shockley introduces poems woven together by a subtle thread of committed attention to place and what happens there—the places of language, self, ancestry, and tragedy. She introduces Mónica de la Torre engaging with languages as wild topography ("Is to Travel Getting to or Being in a Destination"), Marilyn Chin uncovering the political territory of the self ("A Portrait of Self as Nation: 1990-1991"), and Nikky Finney channeling the ancestors into the present ("The Girlfriend's Train"). Shockley closes with poem that sits with the terrible resonances of place names turned into a catalog of violence ("les milles"). Find the full recordings of de la Torre, Chin, and Finney reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Mónica de la Torre (2008) Marilyn Chin (1996) Nikky Finney (2019) You can also watch a 2019 recording of Evie Shockley reading work commissioned as part of the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice series. Have you checked out the new Voca interface? It’s easier than ever to browse readings, and individual tracks can be shared. Many readings now include captions and transcripts, and we're working hard to make sure every reading will have these soon.

Duration:00:38:59

JD Pluecker: Always Returning

8/10/2022
Undisciplinary writer and translator JD Pluecker curates recordings that circle around themes of return, transformation, history, and the future. Pluecker introduces Joy Harjo finding what remains in the wreckage (“New Orleans”), Andrea Lawlor considering how one thing turns into another (excerpt from “Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl”), and C.D. Wright turning herself into an ancestor (“Our Dust”). Pluecker closes by reading “Return Unsettlement,” which asks whether anything is ever quite gone or has ever quite arrived. Enjoy the full recordings of Harjo, Lawlor, and Wright reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Joy Harjo (1987) Andrea Lawlor (2019) C.D. Wright (2000) You can also watch a recording of JD Pluecker reading in 2019 as part of the language experimentation collective Antena Aire, in collaboration with Myriam Moscona. Have you checked out the new Voca interface? It’s easier than ever to browse readings, and individual tracks can be shared. Many readings now include captions and transcripts, and we're working hard to make sure every reading will have these soon.

Duration:00:32:50

Juan Felipe Herrera: Humanity, Compassion, Action, Protest

7/27/2022
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera shares poems that consider the questions, what exactly is poetry? What does it do? Herrera crafts an expansive answer to these questions through Marvin Bell’s reflection on poetry as philosophy (“The Poem”), Denise Levertov’s engagement with truth in sacred spaces (“The Day the Audience Walked Out on Me, and Why”), and Lorna Dee Cervantes’s assertion that poetry is the force and form of resistance (“From the Bus to E.L. at Atascadero State Hospital”). To close, Herrera shares his poem “For George Floyd, Who Was a Great Man,” a work that encapsulates humanity, compassion, action, and protest. You can listen to the full recordings of Bell, Levertov, and Cervantes reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Marvin Bell (1977) Denise Levertov (1973) Lorna Dee Cervantes (1991) You can also enjoy two recordings of Juan Felipe Herrera on Voca, from 1993 and 2009. Have you checked out the new Voca interface? It’s easier than ever to browse readings, and individual tracks can be shared. Many readings now include captions and transcripts, and we're working hard to make sure every reading will have these soon.

Duration:01:04:56

Matthew Zapruder: Poems for Passengers

3/30/2022
Matthew Zapruder selects poems that employ the powers of song, memory, and imagination as points of reflection and comfort amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He shares Adam Zagajewski conjuring a life lost to his family (“To Go to Lvov”), Gerald Stern recognizing the fortunate circumstances of his domestic and writing lives (“Lucky Life”), and Li-Young Lee traversing his own psychic landscape (“I Loved You Before I Was Born”). Zapruder closes by reading his “Poem for Passengers,” which celebrates public spaces and the momentary relief from differences they can afford. You can find the full recordings of Zagajewski, Stern, and Lee reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Adam Zagajewski (1989) Gerald Stern (1983) Li-Young Lee (2020) You can also watch a reading by Zapruder for the Poetry Center from 2019.

Duration:00:25:38

Khadijah Queen: Keywords

3/16/2022
Khadijah Queen homes in on her selections by following three keywords through the archive: disobedience, Detroit, and joy. She introduces Rachel Zucker’s lecture on the confessional mode in poetry (“What We Talk About When We Talk About the Confessional and What We Should Be Talking About”), francine j. harris’s lyric dense with complicated emotions (“katherine with the lazy eye. short. and not a good poet.”), and Monica Sok’s poem of gentle power in the face of trauma (“The Woman Who Was Small, Not Because the World Expanded”). Queen closes by reading “Declination,” which approaches her chosen keywords through the lens of making art. Watch the full recordings of Zucker, harris, and Sok reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Rachel Zucker, lecture (2016) francine j. harris (2015) Monica Sok (2020) You can also find a reading by Khadijah Queen on Voca, which was given in 2016.

Duration:00:32:00

Sara Borjas: A Particular 'Us'

3/2/2022
Sara Borjas introduces poems that focus on the connections between a particular, collective ‘us’—people connected by lineage or language, by place, or by the acts of writing and reading. She shares Layli Long Soldier’s exploration of wholeness and mother-daughter relationships (“WHEREAS her birth signaled…”), Juan Felipe Herrera’s centering of people and complexity (“Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way”), and Richard Siken’s breaking of the fourth wall to implicate the reader (“Planet of Love”). To close, Borjas reads her poem “Narcissus Complicates an Old Plot,” a celebration of mothers and daughters, language, and community rooted in place. Watch the full recordings of Long Soldier, Herrera, and Siken reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Layli Long Soldier (2017) Juan Felipe Herrera (2009) Richard Siken (2002) Transcripts for each episode are available here. Click on the episode title, then click on the transcript tab at the bottom of the player. Poems are transcribed as read and do not represent the published work.

Duration:00:23:31

Chet’la Sebree: Liminality

2/16/2022
Chet’la Sebree leads us to acknowledge liminal spaces, those places that are not quite one thing or another, moments of transition and not-yet that have become so familiar to us throughout the pandemic. Sebree introduces Camille T. Dungy’s recognition that grief relentlessly intrudes on joy (“Notes on What Is Always with Us”), Brenda Shaughnessy’s reflection on the difficulties of understanding time (“Three Summers Mark Only Two Years”), and Ada Limón’s transformative rendering of relationships (“What I Didn’t Know Before”). Sebree closes with a new poem of her own on liminality, “Blue Opening.” Watch the full recordings of Dungy, Shaughnessy, and Limón reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Camille T. Dungy (2016) Brenda Shaughnessy (2005) Ada Limón (2018)

Duration:00:17:32

Anthony Cody: Necessary Discomfort

2/2/2022
Anthony Cody selects poems that ask hard questions about war, borders, gender, power, US history, and ourselves—questions asked in order to remind us of the discomfort necessary for change on individual and collective levels. Cody shares Pat Mora’s inversion of relationships between speaker and audience, pursuer and pursued (“La Migra”), Michael S. Harper’s use of staccato repetition to sear atrocity into memory (“A White Friend Flies in from the Coast”), and Diana García’s revelation of truths that span generations (Excerpts from “Serpentine Voices”). Cody closes with his translation of Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Dudo las Luces / I Question the Lights,” which draws attention to the forgotten in our political landscape. You can find the full recordings of Mora, Harper, and García reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Pat Mora (1996) Michael S. Harper (1973) Diana García (2002)

Duration:00:23:09

Wendy Xu: Why Write

1/19/2022
Wendy Xu curates poems that underscore the necessity of attention for the writing of poems, reminding us that to write is to think, to look, and to be present. She introduces James Tate on bending reality through attention to everything (“Rescue”), Mei-mei Berssenbrugge on the connection between the spiritual and the somatic (“Hello, the Roses”), and Joyelle McSweeney on being unafraid of excess (“Percussion Grenade”). Xu closes with her poem “Why Write,” which engages with the past as a living, risky force. You can find the full recordings of Tate, Berssenbrugge, and McSweeney reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: James Tate (1968) Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (2010) Joyelle McSweeney (2012)

Duration:00:25:02

Eduardo C. Corral: The Possibilities

10/13/2021
Eduardo C. Corral introduces recordings by poets who create and encourage possibilities for others through their inquisitive teaching, their artistic commitment to mystery, or by being fully themselves. He celebrates Beckian Fritz Goldberg’s dedication to delight and surprise (“The Possibilities”), Bei Dao’s inscrutability for the way it affirms the human condition (“Landscape Over Zero”), and Francisco X. Alarcón’s generous spirit and embodiment of what a poet can look like (“Ode to Tomatoes”). To close, Corral reads his poem “To Francisco X. Alarcón,” delving into the impact this elder poet has had on his own writing life. You can find the full recordings of Goldberg, Dao, and Alarcón reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Beckian Fritz Goldberg (1994) Bei Dao with Dennis Evans (1999) Francisco X. Alarcón (2008) Watch a 2013 reading by Corral on Voca, as well as a reading given with Natalie Diaz at Tucson High Magnet School, which includes an extensive Q&A with students.

Duration:00:17:15

Sumita Chakraborty: Odes to the Overlooked

9/29/2021
Sumita Chakraborty curates poems that draw our attention to the overlooked: to the body’s cycles, to cruelty, to deep attention, to trauma and what comes after. She introduces Lucille Clifton on accepting change and growth (“to my last period”), Ai on the link between violence and loss (“Cruelty”), and Nora Naranjo Morse on vulnerability as potential blessing (“Sometimes I Am a Sponge”). Chakraborty closes by reading her own exploration of the complexities of PTSD, written to an extraterrestrial audience: “The B-Sides of the Golden Records, Track Five: ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.’” You can find the full recordings of Clifton, Ai, and Naranjo Morse reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Lucille Clifton (2007) Ai (1972) Nora Naranjo Morse (1992)

Duration:00:19:14

Silvina López Medin: Writing about Writing

9/15/2021
Silvina López Medin introduces poems that reflect on the writing process and the openings we encounter therein when boundaries blur between speaker and listener, creator and creation. She shares Robert Hass on going to the movies and Greek rhetorical devices (“Heroic Simile”), Adélia Prado on the earthy charms of poetry (“Seduction,” read by Prado’s translator Ellen Doré Watson), and Anne Carson on making marks (“Short Talk On Homo Sapiens”). López Medin concludes with her poem “I Am Writing This in My Head, My Hands Inside Gloves That Don’t Match,” which considers how the lost lingers in what remains. You can find the full recordings of Hass, Prado as read by Watson, and Carson reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Robert Hass (1979) Adélia Prado, read by her translator Ellen Doré Watson (1992) Anne Carson (2001)

Duration:00:16:53

Adam O. Davis: Sonic Road Trip

9/1/2021
Adam O. Davis selects and shares poems that engage with journeys—across time, through mystery, into the past, or to shape a future. He introduces Nathaniel Mackey meditating on eternal questions (“Glenn on Monk’s Mountain”), Maurya Simon reminding us that the dead surround and sustain us (“El Día de los Muertos”), and Robert Creeley poignantly speaking across time (“I Know a Man”). Davis closes by reading his poem “Interstate Highway System,” his own plea for living sparked by a 2015 road trip across America. You can find the full recordings of Nathaniel Mackey, Maurya Simon, and Robert Creeley reading for the Poetry Center on Voca: Nathaniel Mackey with jazz pianist Marilyn Crispell (2013) Maurya Simon (2019) Robert Creeley (1963) Check out Davis’s Index of Haunted Houses Hotline by calling 619-329-5757.

Duration:00:22:57