Tag Archives: Arizona Humanities Council

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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Arizona Humanities Festival

Ballet Folklorico Esperanza performs at the Arizona Humanities Festival in Phoenix

I headed to Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix Saturday for an event called the “Arizona Humanities Festival: Stories of Us,” presented by the Arizona Humanities Council — and sponsored by APS and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

The all-day festival was designed as “a celebration of the cultures that surround us, the stories that define us, and the histories that connect us.”

A family activity area featured storytelling, face painting, Chinese calligraphy, Day of the Dead mask-making and much more. Characters like Maya & Miguel strolled through the crowd, posing with children for pictures. And various performers, including those pictured below, took to the stage. 

Face painting at the festival’s Dias de los Muertos Activity Center

Miguel and Maya with two girls attending the Arizona Humanities Festival

A pair of works (L) from the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center activity area

Traditional Chinese Lion Dancers preparing for a second performance

One of several groups that performed works with multicultural flair

Scenes from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown by ASU’s Lyric Opera Theatre

The first of several dances performed by Ballet Forklorico Esperanza

A high-energy performance by Fushicho Daiko/Phoenix Taiko Drummers

Various speakers gave presentations in ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism building — on topics ranging from Anne Frank to pioneering women artists in Arizona. Nearby, attendees learned about things like hip hop and Arizona’s identity in Western movies.

Plenty of humanities-related organizations had booths at the festival — including the Central Arizona Museum Association, the Braille and Talking Book Library, the Arizona Authors Association and many more.

One of several exhibitors at Saturday's Arizona Humanities Festival in Phoenix

Folks who missed Saturday’s festival can enjoy other events presented by the Arizona Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities founded in 1973. Visit them online at www.azhumanities.org to learn more.

— Lynn

Note: According to the Arizona Humanities Council, the humanities include history, literature, languages, linguistics, philosophy, law, archeology, comparative religion, anthropology, ethics, art history and more.

Coming up: More fun with festivals

Photo credit: Lynn Trimble

Film finds

!Women Art Revolution is one of several current offerings at FilmBar in Phoenix

You can find much more than film fare at plenty of movie theaters these days. Even Shakespeare in Cinema works that seem to transport you straight to the Globe Theatre in London.

And film offerings seem to be finding their way to lots of places other than traditional cinemas. Think bookstores, museums, performing arts venues and more. Even stores like Hoodlums Music and Movies and Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, which presents “In Transition” during their next community movie night, scheduled for Fri, Aug 26.

When you have a hankering for films or movie venues that are just a bit out of the ordinary, consider making an afternoon or evening of it with one of these Valley options…

Finding film at a joint called FilmBar Phoenix is hardly a shocker, but their offerings are certainly out of the ordinary. In August alone featured works deal with martial arts, the culture of war, feminist art and changes wrought on nature by increasing industrialization.

The 2011-12 Talk Cinema series at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts opens in October. You can enjoy the surprise of not knowing what to expect or check the center’s website the day before each screening to explore the month’s offering. Each “Talk Cinema” screening is introduced and followed by “moderated conversations hosted by distinguished guest speakers.”

Performing arts venues like Tempe Center for the Arts and Mesa Arts Center sometimes present special movie screenings, so film buffs should watch the calendars of these venues to see what pops up throughout the season.

Several community colleges offer film series or festivals with diverse themes. Scottsdale Community College has partnered for many years with the Anti-Defamation League to present a film series with an anti-hate theme.

Paradise Valley Community College is focusing on “women in film” this season. The first film of the season is “Amelie” — a French film they’ll present on Wed, Sept 7. Other fall films in the series hail from Spain, China and the U.S. Offerings next year include films from Germany, Lebanon, India and Columbia.

Several Valley museums, including the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Phoenix Art Museum, present intriguing film works — including some it’s hard to find anywhere else.

Several films being shown this month and next at the Phoenix Art Museum are Spanish-language films with English subtitles — including works about circus life, women matadors, immigration and more. My favorite is a one-hour film called “Biblioburro” about a one-of-a-kind library and librarian in a violence-ridden region of Colombia.

Cultural Centers like the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix sometimes offer screenings of independent works, as do other cultural resources like libraries.

The Arizona Humanities Council website offers event listings by region so its always easy to find film and other offerings in your area. Film screenings and discussions of “Johnny Guitar” take place later this month in Florence and Glendale — and they’ve got several “Borderlands” films listed for the coming months.

Films don’t need to include talking animals or non-stop explosions to be fun. You’ll even learn to love them without salty popcorn or sugary drinks. Leave the kids behind once and a while to expore a world where films foster adult conversations on fascinating topics other than organic baby food and homework wars.

— Lynn

Coming up: Film festivals in the Valley — and beyond, Lynn & Liz review “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie”

The fine art of civil discourse

In the aftermath of the tragic Tucson shooting that recently took the lives of six people and injured many more, there’s been a lot of debate about the role of rhetoric in fueling violence.

I haven’t any way of calculating the relative role of various factors in the shooting, but I began wondering that day about how we might begin to reclaim the fine art of civil discourse.

I started by exploring something called “Project Civil Discourse” — a “special initiative” of the Arizona Humanities Council.  The program is “a statewide effort to create respectful dialogue and discourse on public issues.”

There’s a dedicated “Project Civil Discourse” website that features information on speakers, readings and resources related to the topic of civil discourse.

I got to thinking about the role of arts and humanities in fostering civil dialogue the other day when I heard someone propose that schools pay math and science teachers more than teachers in other subjects.

The speaker detailed the relative scarcity of qualified teachers in these areas, and noted the importance of these fields in both national and international affairs. 

I can’t disagree with either point, but I have to wonder whether he’s heard the startling statistics about how poorly even college graduates fare these days in the reading and writing department.

I’m inclined to believe that arts and humanities form the foundation of civil society — and that they should never be valued (or funded) less than other fields of study or enterprise.

So I was especially pleased to learn that Arizona State University is readying to launch “Project Humanities” next month.

It’s “a yearlong celebration filled with public events, programs and activities that highlight faculty and student scholarship, research and creative activity” in the humanities.

The university-wide initiative includes all four campuses — and will focus on “Humanities at the Crossroads: Perspective on Place” during its inaugural year.

Fervent arts supporters have likely noticed recent upticks in calls to downsize or eliminate organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio.

It’s compelling evidence that many value the right to bear arms over the right to free speech.

Appreciating art is no longer enough. Those who create and love it must also advocate for it. Hence the importance of organizations like Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Seek out community resources offering education and training in the fine art of civil discourse — including colleges, libraries, museums, non-profits and cultural organizations.

And check out “iCivics” — an online tool founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to help improve the depth and breadth of civics education for American youth.

If you agree that the arts and humanities are at the very core of our democracy, you have plenty of opportunities to become a more engaged citizen working to assure their role in fostering and sustaining civil discourse is never neglected or forgotten.

— Lynn

Note: If you know of another organization or program specializing in civil discourse, please share it below to let our readers know

Coming up: A pair of posts featuring perspectives on bullying, Performance resume tips for child and teen actors

Photo: Wikipedia

It takes a village

Sometimes it take a village of 19 youth actors from around the Valley

Sometimes it takes a village — which is just what you’ll enjoy this weekend if you attend a performance by Curtain Call Youtheatre, the educational division of the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company.

They’ll present “A Village of Idiots” — Sat, Dec 11 at 7pm, and Sun, Dec 12 at 2pm — at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. The cast includes 19 young actors from around the Valley in a comedy based on “the tales of Chelm.”

But you needn’t wait until the weekend to enjoy Arizona arts and culture. The Arizona Humanities Council holds an “Authors’ Night/Fundraiser” Wed, Dec 8, at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix.

The event features nationally renowned authors Matthew Whitaker and Cynthia Hogue, as well as photographer Rebecca Ross, exploring “the journey of Hurrican Katrina evacuee’s grief and hope through stories, poems and photographs.”

See Joel Sartore at the MAC

“America’s Great Wildlife Migrations” featuring Joel Santore, “National Geographic” photographer, also takes place Wed, Dec 8 — at the Mesa Arts Center.

For the “12 to 21” set, the Phoenix Art Museum presents “Speak & Slam 2.0” Wed, Dec 8, at 6:30pm. It’s their second installation of “original poetry and recitation” — held in partnership with the national “Poetry Out Loud” recitation contest. Young poets can practice performing for a live audience or come to support the readings of other youth.

Take time this season to support aspiring performers

Chandler-Gilbert Community College invites community members to attend a free “Student Actors’ Showcase” Fri, Dec 10 at 7pm in room Agave 155. 

They’re also offering a free event Mon, Dec 13 at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center — a “Winter Sampler” featuring various vocal and musical ensembles. (Reservations at 480-732-7343 are required.)

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “PhxArtKid Day” Sun, Dec 12, for children ages 5-12 and their adult companions — which is free with museum admission. This “Gifts of the Season” event features exploration of art and the opportunity to create original art with a holday theme.

Adults and kids can attend the Phoenix Art Museum’s “Holiday Festival” Sun, Dec 12, from noon to 8pm — which features the 12:12pm unveiling of a new work of art. Other activities taking place at various times include a scavenger hunt, balloon dancing and more. Think strolling musicians. Adorable critters. And an ice igloo.

Make holiday cards at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix presents “Holiday Cards” Dec 7-12 in their art studio. It’s for children and adults who’d like to spend some time making artwork together — and it’s just one of many family-friendly activities and events they offer on a regular basis.

Exciting art projects can also be found at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which routinely offers times for children to create art while they’re at the museum to enjoy its many kid-friendly exhibits.

Young Arts of Arizona opened a new exhibit last Friday at their “Purple Space Gallery” in Phoenix. It features artwork by students at Phoenix Country Day School, who were inspired by an “Interpretations of Nature” theme.

If architecture is your thing, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art invites you to attend a free event on Sat, Dec 11. It’s the 11am-2pm “official public dedication” of the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. Related events (some with limited seating and/or an admission charge) are also scheduled — including a “VIP Tour of Cosanti,” a lecture/panel discussion and more.

"HAIR" has a tribe rather than village vibe

Broadway lovers can enjoy the touring production of  “HAIR” this week at ASU Gammage. If you like a bit of brunch with your Broadway, you can enjoy brunch on campus at the University Club before the Sun, Dec 12, matinee performance.

Dance aficionados have several options this week, including the “Breaking Ground 2010” dance and film festival presented by CONDER/dance Fri, Dec 10, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Enjoy dance at Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a “Student Dance Showcase” at 8pm Fri, Dec 10, and Sat, Dec 11, at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

And those who donate cans of non-perishable food items to United Food Bank through a food drive at Kriti Dance in Chandler this weekend can enjoy a free trial class in Bollywood style dance Sun, Jan 9, 2011.

Finally, there’s the fine art of civic engagement — which you can practice this week at the State Capitol. Thurs, Dec 9, at 9am, the Arizona Capitol Museum will “celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Arizona Constitution with the opening of a new exhibit.”

It’s titled “We the People of Arizona….” At 2pm Governor Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett will join others in commemorating the centennial of Arizona’s Constitutional Convention.

It really does take a village…

— Lynn

Note: Comprehensive daily listings of family-friendly events in the Valley of the Sun are always available online from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Always call ahead to confirm event details — day/time, location, cost, age-appropriateness and such.

Coming up: A true Broadway baby

Photo credit: “HAIR” photo by Joan Marcus

Tell me a story

Read by Betty White on "Storyline Online"

Stories are everywhere, and they’re not just for children. Here’s a sampling of local resources for story lovers of all ages, along with pictures of books currently featured in the “Storyline Online” program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

South Mountain Community College is home to the SMCC Storytelling Institute — which offers programs for students and performances open (and often free) to the public.

Their October calendar includes “Stories for Hispanic Heritate Month” (Oct 1), “Myth Informed” (Oct 11) and the “Fall Storytelling Festival” (Oct 21-22).

Other storytelling events this academic year include the “Storytelling Student Concert” (Dec 3), “Folktales for Grown-ups” (Feb 2), “Storytelling for Black History Month” (Feb 18), the “Community Storytelling Festival” (Apr 8).

Traveling storytellers often share their tales with Valley audiences at performing arts venues such as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — which presents “John Lithgow in Stories by Heart” on Oct 21 & 22, and “Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” on Jan 21, 2011.

Read by Camryn Manheim on "Storyline Online"

I relished John Lithgow’s performance as the “Trinity Killer” in HBO’s “Dexter” last season — and enjoyed watching an interview with Lithgow that aired on PBS.

Turns out he’s quite the Renaissance man — smart and skilled in the ways of poetry, theater, music, writing and more. He’s even authored children’s books that I suspect I am still young enough to enjoy.

I can’t imagine anyone (outside of Minnesota) who might be as gifted in the art of storytelling. It’s not surprising given “Lithgow’s belief that storytelling is the unacknowledged tie that binds humanity.”

“Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” features words by Spalding Gray, a longtime friend of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The 95 minute piece (suitable for ages 16+) will be performed by a four-person ensemble and a local guest reader. Though he died in 2004, Spalding’s “work lives on in this funny, poignant and ultimately life-affirming play.”

Read by Melissa Gilbert on "Storyline Online"

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe regularly hosts storytimes for youth, including a 10:15am storytime for families with toddlers and preschoolers held each Thursday (the 2nd Thursday of each month features a bilingual Spanish/English storytime). Also watch for special storytimes on Saturdays — including a “Cooking Storytime” at 10am on Sat, Oct 9.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix offers “Ollie’s Storytime Adventures” for children ages three to six and their parents. The 10am storytimes (scheduled for Oct 15, Oct 29, Nov 12 and Dec 3) introduce children to “archeology, desert wildlife, and Native American cultures.”

Sometimes the best stories come from children. The Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix presents a puppet show called “Imagine This” in November. It’s based on stories and poems written by children at Kenilworth, a pre-K through 8th grade “global community school” in the Phoenix Elementary School District #1.

Watch for storytimes at your local library, as well as other museums, bookstores and performing arts venues. If you know of a storytime not mentioned here, please comment below to let fellow readers know.

Read by Al Gore on "Storyline Online"

And stay tuned to the Arizona Humanities Council website — which notes that “stories convey our histories, traditions, social mores, beliefs and insights about what it means to be human.”

The council “creates opportunities for sharing these diverse stories through critical thinking and public discussion, to better understand and appreciate one another, so that we can make informed decisions about our collective future.”

— Lynn

Note: I felt a bit miffed recently when a broadcast journalist referred to bloggers as “blurb meisters” — In fact, many bloggers (including the “Activist Writer“) are the master storytellers of new media.

Coming up: Reel stories from the Scottsdale International Film Festival

Fun with film

I rarely pause to consider what life might be like as a lottery winner. It’s rather a moot point since I’m not much of a player, but something I read the other day got me to thinking. If I had extra time and money on my hands, how might I want to spend it?

Reading more books. Giving to favorite causes. Traveling the globe. These things have long been on my wish list. But something else now strikes my fancy — exploring the wonderful world of film festivals.

I could start close to home with the Scottsdale Film Festival — taking place this year from Oct 1 to Oct 5 at Harkins Camelview Theatre near Scottsdale Fashion Square, a longtime movie theater favorite for me and my kids (who all favor somewhat out of the ordinary fare).

The festival actually kicks off Friday evening with an opening film, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” followed by an opening night party. Festival offerings include Arizona premieres and Oscar contenders, as well as three “spotlight on Mexico” films and four “spotlight on France” films.

Scottsdale also is home to a festival-style experience termed “Talk Cinema.” It’s a film series presented at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2010-2011 series kicks off Oct 19. All films are shown on Tuesday evenings at 7pm in their Virginia G. Piper Theater.

“Talk Cinema” film selections are kept under wraps until “shortly before each screening” and viewers have the option of going online to read a “spoiler” ahead of time or attending without knowing what to expect. All screenings are followed by moderated conversations with distinguished critics, and viewers get to write their own film reviews.

Paradise Valley Community College presents “Film Festival at PVCC” — a series of film events held monthly (Wednesday evenings at 6:0pm). The next film they’ll show is the 1985 Swedish movie titled “My Life as a Dog” — a PG-13 flick scheduled for Sept 29 at the PVCC Center for the Performing Arts.

PVCC also will present films from Germany, France, Norway and other countries — as well as two PVCC Student Film Festivals during the academic year. Student film festivals — scheduled for Dec 10 and May 9 — take place at 7:30pm and admission is free.

The Arizona Humanities Council presents “The Paul Espinosa Border Film Festival” on Saturday, Oct 2, from 4pm-10pm in Yuma. The free event, which explores “the dynamics of southwestern border history and culture,” features three award-winning films.

This festival takes place at the Yuma Arts Center and historic Yuma theatre. Films are introduced by filmmaker Paul Espinosa and followed by a discussion with experts and the filmmaker.

Finally, a film I wish every parent would see — the documentary “Race to Nowhere,” to be shown Nov 9 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Amado (south of Tucson).  It’s rated PG-13, runs just 85 minutes and has Spanish subtitles.

“Race to Nowhere” is “about the pressures faced by American school children and their teachers in a system and culture obsessed with the illusion of achievement, competition and the pressure to perform.”

It sounds like a great excuse to grab some fellow parents or teachers for a grown-up field trip that’ll lend itself to plenty of lively discussion on the drive home.

If you stop on the way for lottery tickets, just make sure you promise to share the bounty.

–Lynn