Oct 162007

What a great weekend for poetry here in Tucson! The new UA Poetry Center in the Helen S. Schaefer Building—which is a phenomenal building, architecturally and poetically—was dedicated on Saturday evening, followed by a huge housewarming festival on Sunday. I’ll try to find some photos (for once, I didn’t have my camera, but I volunteered pretty much the whole weekend, so have a worthy excuse… mostly).

Here’s what went down:

Dedication on Saturday, October 13:

  • Intros and readings by Ofelia Zepeda, Billy Collins, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Alberto Alvaro Rios, and Alison Hawthorne Deming
  • Welcomes and gratitudes by the usual UA suspects, as well as U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords and Stewart Udall, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior who told a wonderful story about how he suggested to JFK that Robert Frost read at the president’s inauguration. Udall, who is now 87, got a much-deserved standing ovation.
  • Music by the Arizona Repertory Sings (for example, “Oh, my luve’s like a red, red rose” by James Mulholland; text: Robert Burns)

Housewarming Festival on Sunday, October 14:

  • All-day events included Madonnari chalk artists create poets’ portraits, including Uncle Walt Whitman and Frederico Garcia Lorca; POST & BIND public writing and bookmaking spectacle; Children’s activities, including poem-writing; Rare book room exhibitions; Publisher, press, museum and other tables (including a table for Terrain.org)
  • Music by R. Carlos Nakai, Makako, Marianne Dissard and Matt Mitchell, and Okaiko Sonora
  • Readings by Ofelia Zepeda, Alberto Rios, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Brenda Hillman, Jane Miller, Charles Alexander, Steve Orlen, Robert Hass, Tenney Nathanson, Billy Collins, and Meg Files
  • Other entertainment: Typing Explosion (take the time to check this out!), Odyssey Storytellers, Stories That Soar!, Flam Chen Balloon Performance, Tucson Poetry Slam Team, Sophia Eva Flamenco, and the grand finale with Flam Chen & Odaiko Sonora (an all-female Japanese-inspired drum team)

I was pretty wiped out from the weekend’s events, but it was great fun. Wish you were here, as they say!

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