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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.

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Duration:00:22:57

Adrian Matejka: Cruelty

8/18/2021
Adrian Matejka reflects on cruelty as manifested in American institutions, history, private lives, and the public realm of the past year. He opens with Ai’s invocation of the human hunger for violence (“Cruelty”), Lucille Clifton’s deft blending of imagery and wisdom (“cruelty. don’t talk to me about cruelty”), and Al Young’s meditation on American cruelty as it begins with slavery (“The Slave Ship Desire”). To close, Matejka reads his poem “Somebody Else Sold the World,” which considers the...

Duration:00:16:46

Joanna Klink: A Blazing Intensity

8/4/2021
Joanna Klink curates poems that blend dream and waking, sparking ordinary life with visionary fire. She shares Jon Anderson wrestling with the desire to walk away (“In Autumn”), Sherwin Bitsui’s haunting epic of water (“Flood Song”), and Linda Gregg’s dreamscape of life without loneliness (“Alma to Her Sister”). Klink closes by reading her poem “On Diminishment,” an intimate, interior landscape of silences and withheld speech. You can find the full recordings of Anderson, Bitsui, and Gregg...

Duration:00:25:03

Rosa Alcalá: Bodies, Presence, Performance

5/5/2021
Rosa Alcalá curates poems in which the body plays a central role as a performing presence. She selects and shares Roberto Tejada’s exploration of control and surrender (“Sun bursting as in water beads”), Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop’s stereophonic collaborative poem (“Light Travels”), and Black Took Collective’s daring, experimental performance piece on race and racism (“Betraying Blackness”). Alcalá concludes by reading her poem “You in Cutoffs,” which looks back at the self in the past, a...

Duration:00:54:20

Bojan Louis: The Poem, Listening

4/21/2021
Bojan Louis shares poems that embody deep listening and engagement with particular realities. He introduces Alan Dugan’s grasp of each moment’s truth (“Love Song: I and Thou”); Layli Long Soldier’s poetry of image, witness, and ways of being (“WHEREAS her birth signaled…”); and Angel Nafis’s critical song that speaks to community (“Ghazal to Open Cages”). Louis closes with a recently published ghazal (“Ghazal VI”) of his own. Listen to the full recordings of Dugan, Long Soldier, and Nafis...

Duration:00:24:28

Peggy Robles-Alvarado: Whistle, Hum, and Heartbeat When Negotiating Identity

4/7/2021
Peggy Robles-Alvarado introduces poems that embody complex identities with honesty, exuberance, and strength. She shares Toi Derricotte’s frank look at the experience of shifting from woman to mother (“Delivery”), Judith Ortiz Cofer’s reckoning with leaving childhood behind (“Quinceañera”), and Ada Limón’s celebration of self-worth and self-pride (“How to Triumph Like a Girl”). Robles-Alvarado concludes with her own poem “Stunting,” a piece sparked by exploring the archive and reflecting...

Duration:00:27:54

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke: Belonging and Being

3/24/2021
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke curates poems by writers who have influenced her own writing through their creative leadership, mentoring, or poetics of belonging. She introduces Juan Felipe Herrera’s invitation to a spirit of generosity and care (“Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way”), Quincy Troupe’s musically attuned tribute to his father (“Poem for My Father”), and Arthur Sze’s transformative vision that unites intelligence with grace (“Adamant”). To close, Hedge Coke reads her poem “Ghost,”...

Duration:00:17:39

Francisco Aragón: A Speaking Voice

3/10/2021
Francisco Aragón shares poems alive with the vibrancy of a particular voice addressed to a particular audience. He introduces Francisco X. Alarcón’s bittersweet homage to a poetic ancestor (“Hernando Ruiz de Alarcón”), Thom Gunn’s farewell address to a beloved fellow writer (“To Isherwood Dying”), and Denise Levertov’s mythic, ecstatic monologue on transformation (“A Tree Telling of Orpheus”). Aragón concludes the episode with a direct address of his own that challenges Arizona’s SB 1070...

Duration:00:29:35

Jane Hirshfield: The Hinge of Possibility

2/10/2021
Jane Hirshfield curates poems that look into the abyss with brave clarity and complex humility. Hirshfield shares Eavan Boland’s probing into the place of shadows that history passes by (“Quarantine”), Miroslav Holub’s reminder that there is life and meaning beyond human precision (“Brief Thoughts on Exactness”), and Tomas Tranströmer’s marrying of the visionary and the vernacular (“Vermeer”). Hirshfield closes by reading her poem “Day Beginning with Seeing the International Space Station...

Duration:00:32:17

Douglas Kearney: Not a Melody, but a Thorn

1/27/2021
Douglas Kearney discusses recordings that give rise to reflections on human interaction and the potential for both connection and violence held there. Kearney introduces Rosa Alcalá as she uses found text to chart the shape of violence (“Are You Okay?"), Martín Espada as he encounters “reeling hyper-reality” in the courtroom (“City of Coughing and Dead Radiators”), and Ai as she pushes the limits between understanding and sympathizing with cruel narrators (“Abortion”). Kearney ends by...

Duration:00:23:49

Cynthia Cruz: Quotidian, Transcendent

1/13/2021
Cynthia Cruz introduces poems that mingle “the everyday with the mystical, the unreasonable,” the poems' meaning and beauty transcending the words themselves. Cruz considers the urgency of the quotidian in Denis Johnson’s “The Monk’s Insomnia,” the magical life a poem can carry within itself in Jon Anderson’s “Fox,” and negation as a place of beginning in Orlando White’s “Ats'íísts'in.” To close, Cruz reads “Hotel Letters,” a poem from a forthcoming collection. Listen to the full recordings...

Duration:00:15:42