Lightning strikes

National Poetry Month strikes again in Arizona

Poet Eduardo C. Corral, a native of Casa Grande who holds degrees from Arizona State University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will read from his recently released collection “Slow Lightning,” Tues, April 10 at the Piper Writers House on the ASU Tempe campus.

Slow Lightning,” Corral’s first collection of poems, was selected as winner of the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition — making Corral the first Latino to receive this honor. Next week’s reading, sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, is free and open to the public.

There’s plenty of poetry around these parts nowadays because April is National Poetry Month. Tempe Center for the Arts, for example, is presenting four “Tempe Poetry in April” events this month — featuring Josh Rathkamp (April 4), Jeannine Savard (April 11), Margaret Holley (April 18) and Sherwin Bitsui (April 25). These TCA events are free, so you’ve really no good reason not to give poetry a whirl.

Center Dance Ensemble presents two performances of “American Voices,” featuring new choreography coupled with words by great American poets, Sun, April 15 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. And PVCC Dance at Paradise Valley Community College presents “Kinetic Poetry” — a “collection of dances reflecting the inner voice of the artist” that features “the voices and movement of PVCC dance students and guest artists” — April 27 & 28.

Art Intersection in Gilbert presents “Haibun: The Poetry of Walking” with instructor Mark Haunschild April 7 & 14 — noting that haibun is a classical Japanese form of travel writing combining prose and poetry, first popularized by Matsuo Basho during the 17th century.

The Tucson Poetry Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with participating poets that include Eduardo C. Corral, Karyna McGlynn, Ander Monson and Patricia Smith. All are offering free writing workshops, and taking part in a two-hour panel, Sat, April 7 at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson.

The Poetry Center presents “Poetry Off the Page” April 9-May 31 — which they describe as a gathering of poets “for whom the stage and all of its demands, such as voice, projection, sound effects, lighting, body movement, acting, props and image, all help create a new syntactic breadth for the poetic voice.”

Seems participating poets will be “pressing into new territories in theatre and song and film, performing, in many cases, original never-seen-before work for the Poetry Center.” The center is also offering exhibits featuring poets working in the visual arts. Think Cecilia Vicuna, Danielle Vogel and Jeff Clark. While you’re there, check out “Artistexts,” curated by Johanna Drucker, too.

The Arizona Humanities Council presents “Sharing Words, Changing Worlds” Thurs, April 12 at Tempe Mission Palms. The keynote speaker for the free 6:30pm-8:30pm event is Pulitzer Prize Winner and Poet Laureate Rita Dove — who’ll share poems from her recent book “Sonata Mulattica,” about a young mulatto violinist’s encounters with Beethooven.

Event organizers note that Dove will “reveal how she came to be uniquely suited to the task of rescuing the mixed race violinist George Augustus Polgreen from the shadows of history, and how history comes alive through art.” Dove, who taught creative writing at ASU from 1981 to 1989, and has been honored by both President Clinton (National Humanities Medal) and President Obama (National Medal of Arts). She served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995.

Things are looking good at this point for a bill moving through the Arizona state legislature to create an Arizona Poet Laureate, according to Rusty Foley, executive director for Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. Nothing’s a sure thing, of course, until the ink dries on a bill. But I like our chances, and there’s already good news to celebrate with the passage of a bill reauthorizing funding for the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

To find additonal poetry-related events in your area, check the calendars for your local libraries, museums and bookstores — plus performing arts venues and college/universities. Also the websites for organizations like the Arizona State Poetry Society and Arizona Authors Association.

Wanna trip out your kids? Just tell ’em you’re heading out with friends to play with words for a while. Then buy them a journal, watch for kid-friendly poetry programs in your community and inch them along towards the day they’ll be the ones making lightning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to find family-friendly events any day of the year from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. If your April poetry event in Arizona isn’t listed above, you can comment below to let our readers know.

Coming up: Musings on “Dance Moms Miami,” Movie review: “Bully”

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