Tag Archives: ASU

“I Am Van Gogh”

Plenty of people have toured the “Van Gogh Alive” exhibition that’s running through June 17 at the Arizona Science Center, but reactions to the multi-media presentation of Van Gogh’s work and words vary. I stood in a single spot for a very long time, reading Van Gogh quotes projected onto an otherwise blank wall. Pasha Yamotahari recalls heading for a corner — looking at the silhouettes of people lingering in front of towering screens featuring rotating images of Van Gogh paintings and related fare. Yamotahari says he was struck by “people standing frozen in time with something timeless.” And then it hit him.

“Hey,” he recalls thinking to himself. “I wrote something about Van Gogh some time ago.” The exhibit conjured memories of a screenplay written about eight years ago when Yamotahari was studying theatre, film and television at Scottsdale Community College. It was about a little’s boy first museum experience, which included an unexpected encounter with one of Van Gogh’s paintings. He pictured Van Gogh coming alive to interact with the boy, but felt at the time that staging such a thing would be rather tricky. Hence the choice to write it as a screenplay.

But times are changing in theater world, as new technologies make all sorts of things more doable. Yamotahari knows this better than most as a member of the artistic staff for Phoenix Theatre, where he’s been known to wear lots of hats. He holds both an AAFA in theatre arts and film/TV from SCC and a BA in journalism from ASU’s Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix — but his talents also include directing, dramaturgy and more.

For years he’s been part of bringing Phoenix Theatre’s “Hormel New Works Festival” to life. But this year, he’s adding another hat — presenting a sit-down reading of his own full-length play called “I Am Van Gogh.” It’s an adaptation of his earlier screenplay reworked after that “Aha!” moment at the Arizona Science Center. His is one of two sit-down readings that’s free and open to the public.

Playwright Pasha Yamotahari still treasures this book his mother gave him

Yamotahari’s mother gave him a book during high school that contained letters written by Van Gogh. Yamotahari remembers reading it — fascinated that someone so gifted achieved success only after his death and curious about why so few people recognized Van Gogh’s greatness when the artist was alive. Nowadays it gives him pause to consider what counts as true greatness in the arts, to wonder about the ways we define success and to live with the ambiguity of never really knowing where one’s devotion to art might lead.

“I Am Van Gogh” runs about two hours and features four actors playing close to 20 characters. The play imagines a young son of devout parents who’s magically taken inside a painting where he meets Van Gogh. The artist tells the boy it’s his destiny to be the next Van Gogh, something complicated by the fact that 8-year-old Marc is simply “not that good at painting.”

Yamotahari was born in Iran but his family fled to France around the time of the Iranian Revolution, later moving to Toronto. Play goers meet Marc as an eight year old because that’s the age when Yamotahari first saw a Van Gogh work at a small gallery in Nice. Also because children develop rich memories around that age. Yamotahari notes that Marc “sees Van Gogh throughout his life pushing him.” Marc finds his destiny, but it’s not without sacrifice.

Knowing that Van Gogh is on most short lists of artists who lived with mental illness, I asked Yamotahari whether he’d integrated the issue into the play. Yamotahari notes that the more he worked with the protagonists, the more he realized that some artists feel the only way to truly reach art is to lose their mind. He describes it as “putting themselves in a constant state of pseudo-insanity.” Sometimes it’s merely an artist’s “obsession with a piece that gets misconstrued as mental illness.”

Though we don’t have works of Van Gogh here in the Valley, Yamotahari’s been able to study the artist’s works online via the “Google Art Project” featuring artworks from 17 of the world’s great art museums. Yamotahari recalls reading the words of Van Gogh, which felt fluid early on but changed somehow as if madness was brewing — especially near the end of Van Gogh’s life.

Yamotahari says he’s fondest of Van Gogh works depicting cornfields, and thinks it’s “cool to zoom in and see those brush strokes.” If you look closely enough, says Yamotahari, you’ll see mistakes — even moments of rage and passion. The playwright wants those who see “I Am Van Gogh” to wonder about the difference between destiny and free will. But don’t expect easy answers. Yamotahari hopes the play will “evoke ambiguity and mystery.”

— Lynn

Note: The 2012 “Hormel New Works Festival” takes place July 8-22. Click here to explore selections and learn about a related art contest. Click here to explore the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Coming up: Art meets asylum, James Garcia talks playwriting and social justice, Drawing a diary

Advertisements

Once upon a party

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Though our daughter Jennifer turned 21 yesterday, she asked us to postpone her party until the semester wraps at ASU. But hey, since I’m the one who birthed her, I figured I deserved a party too and headed out for a quick spin of Childsplay’s 35th birthday shindig at Tempe Center for the Arts — where I heard lots of people rave about the lovely setting. Think outdoor fire. Lakeside walks. Illuminated art. And lots of fabulous people, some donning balloon hats crafted to look like ladybugs, mouse ears, green one-eyed monsters and more.

I happened on one of Jennifer’s elementary school classmates, Kaleena Newman, soon after I arrived. She’s currently touring with Childsplay’s “With Two Wings.” Newman and a fellow volunteer were charged with selling mystery bags of unknown goodies, which I managed to resist until later in the evening — when I chose the lone purple one. Picture me climbing a rock wall eating a mouthful of pastries and you’ll have a good sense of what I discovered inside. Something tells me Lizabeth will be rocking that first gift card.

I also ran into plenty of Childsplay actors, including D. Scott Withers, who donned a sort of Mardi Gras meets swami get-up as he passed out long strings of purple, green and gold beads. Also Jon Gentry, who looked so much more debonair than the day I saw him work the long ears in “Go, Dog. Go!”

I also chatted a bit with Debra K. Stevens about this weekend’s opening of “The Color of Stars.” Seems several school groups have already seen the show, and Stevens praised the students for making really astute observations and asking truly insightful questions. Finally, I talked Childsplay summer camp and life in general with Yolanda London. (I last saw London perform in “Rock the Presidents” — and yes, there is a CD for that.)

Naturally I took a spin around the room set up with all things silent auction. Think trips, jewelry, original art and more. Also lots of tickets and such donated by other theater companies and arts organizations. I left before the final bids were recorded so there’s no telling what I might be the proud owner of today. Maybe the single raffle ticket I bought from a young girl toting a basket and a big smile was a winner. But no matter — it’s all for a good cause.

The TCA lobby was filled with all sorts of whimsical carnival-style games, and a photo booth folks entered after dressing up in accessories like neon wigs stashed in a nearby cardboard box. Also passed hors d’oeuvres and drink stations — plus four ASU student playing upbeat jazz fare. I left before they broke out the cake, suspecting Jennifer would let me indulge in one of her birthday cupcakes back home.

While at the soiree, I introduced myself to Colin Ross of “Rock the Presidents” fame. He’s a charming lad who thought I deserved the respect of a “ma’am” when we met, but I’m at the age where “miss” sounds a million times better than “you just won the lottery.” Ross’ parents done good, but I’m still in recovery.

I decided to cut out while in the throws of a nasty cough left over from a recent bout of bronchitis. It’s hard to party when you’re feeling both ancient and sickly. Plus, I was eager to get home to my own birthday baby. Someone asked as I left whether Jennifer was excited about being old enough to drink. Not really, I said. But she does have a hankering to play a mean batch of bingo.

— Lynn

Note: Play passes are now available for Childsplay’s 2012/13 season, which includes the return of “Rock the Presidents” and “June B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” Also “Recipe for Disaster” and “Boats” as well as two works based on books for youth — “The Giver” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Plus a chance to “Occupy the Barnyard!” with “Click, Clack, Moo!”

Coming up: From barber shop to deep dark woods, Fun PBS finds, Musings of a musician mom

You had me at “cherry tree”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s a small parking lot at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts that’s covered with yellow blossoms these days — dropped from the Palo Verde trees that bring a splash of color to the desert each spring. I’ve taken to imagining these trees are cherry blossoms, picturing them in pink instead of yellow, because I’m still learning to love the Arizona landscape — but cherry blossoms have always tugged at my heart.

I saw the season’s first cherry tree blossom inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden earlier this month and get wistful for Washington, D.C. each time the cherry blossoms emerge. So when I learned that a new theater work titled “Sakura no Ne” (“Root of the Cherry Tree”) included footage of trees in bloom, I knew I had to see it. Folks who feel the same have just one more opportunity (April 22 at 2pm) to see the family-friendly production being performed at Theater Works in Peoria.

“Sakura no Ne” is part multi-media production, part performance art, part morality tale and part homage to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix (along with sister city Himeji in Japan). At times it has the feel of a fine work of theater for children. Other times it reads like a Japan-inspired version of “Riverdance” or “Stomp.” Everything about it is lovely, but it may need a bit more pruning as it evolves to reach wider audiences.

Children in the audience Saturday afternoon clearly loved the humor, drumming, martial arts component and digital projections. The 80-minute show also features diverse dance elements rarely scene on Valley stages. I chatted with a couple after the show, eager to see whether a storm scene filled with lightning and a fire-breathing serpent had scared their preschool-age son. “This is the first time he’s sat through an entire show,” they told me.

“Sakura no No” is the work of playwright Soji Kashiwagi (of Grateful Crane Ensemble) and music composer Scott Nagatani.  It’s directed by Dominik Rebilas. “Sakura no Ne” is produced by Yoshi Kumagai (who also serves as art director and fight choreographer) and Ken Koshio (who also serves as music director), sponsored by the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix and funded by a Sundome Performing Arts Association grant. Kumagai shared with me after the show that they’re hoping to present the work in additional Valley venues.

The show’s most dramatic element is drumming by Ken Koshio in the role of Ikazuchi (Thunder God). The cast also includes John Tang (Taro “Tama” Yamazajura), Urashima Taro, Old Man), Dale Nakagawa (Justin, Sea Turtle) and Sandy Harris (Haley, Sea Princess, Crane). Most delicate is Koshio’s title song, sung in Japanese and English with harmonica and guitar. I also enjoyed creations by Zarko Guerrero (mask and turtle outfit) and Derrick Suwaima Davis (crane feather outfit).

“Sakura no Ne” follows the adventures of two tween-age siblings — a boy rarely parted from his Nintendo and a girl attached to her cell phone. Think “I’m so bored” and “O-M-G.” They’re left one day at the Japanese Friendship Garden by parents hoping they’ll find a bit of bliss. But the pair finds something more — a renewed appreciation for nature, family and community. Even each other.

The simple storyline is punctuated by music, dance and martial arts performance. There’s traditional Japanese dance featuring Mari Kaneta (whose choreography and dance I enjoyed with daughter Lizabeth during the 1996 Arizona Opera production of “Madama Butterfly”), taiko drumming by Fushicho Daiko and Jakara, martial arts by a trio from Arizona Aikiko and dance by the ASU Japanese Student Association’s Soran Bushi Dancers. It all comes together in the service of a single message.

Only the cherry tree’s strong roots make its beautiful blossoms possible.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about “Strolling in Yukata” (taking place April 28 at the Japanese Friendship Garden) and here to learn about a new musical titled “Allegiance” (which explores the World War II experiences of a Japanese-American family).

Coming up: Another tree tale, Don’t cry for me Shakespeare?

Human rights film festival

See "Miss Landmine" April 20 at 4pm at ASU

Our daughter Jennifer is an able scout for local arts and culture — often alerting me to films, museum exhibits and other good stuff at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Recently she brought home a pair of flyers, one bright purple with a film strip running across it. Three strands of barbed wire run along the strip, one tied with a small red bow resembling a delicate butterfly.

The flyer details offerings in the second annual “Human Rights Film Festival” taking place April 20-22 in Armstrong Hall, located at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The festival is free and open to the public, and each of the nine films being shown will be followed by a discussion. Friday’s lineup includes “Miss Landmine,” “Education Under Fire,” and “Granito.”

Saturday selections include “The Truth That Wasn’t There,” “The Invisibles,” and “Stop Kony.” Also “The Dark Side of Chocolate” — which ASU professor Daniel Schugurensky suggests may be of greatest interest to our readers, given its focus on child labor and trafficking.

Two films are being shown on Earth Day — “Flow: For Love of Water” and “Overcoming Eco-Apartheid: Community Action for Environmental Justice in South Phoenix.”

It’s fitting that this year’s festival coincides with Earth Day because we forget too often that there’s a whole lot of Earth beyond the little patches some of us are lucky enough to call our own.

See "The Dark Side of Chocolate" at 4pm on April 21 at ASU

The Human Rights Film Festival is co-sponsored by Human Rights at ASU, the School of Social Transformation, the Graduate Professional Student Association at ASU and Amnesty International Tempe.

Folks who hit the festival Friday before the first film rolls at 4pm can get an early taste of issues related to how people in different cultures tackle tough choices. I owe this tidbit to the second flyer Jennifer shared, featuring news of the ASU Museum of Anthropology’s “Choosing the Good” exhibit.

The exhibit provides the opportunity to “discover how people in your community and from around the world resolve the same dilemmas in choosing the good.” Admission to the ASU Museum of Anthropology, open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, is always free — so no tough choice there.

The ASU Museum of Anthropology is housed inside the School of Human Evolution & Social Change building — three buildings south of the intersection of University Dr. and College Ave.

Even those of you without a Jennifer can get your hands on news of ASU offerings in arts and culture — just click here to explore the ASU events calendar.

— Lynn

Coming up: Remembering the Holocaust, Art meets United Nations

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”

The circle of theater

Kylie Cochrane (Laura), Rebecca Steiner (Beatrice) and Scotlyn Mascarelli (Sara) backstage after Saturday's matinee performance of William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" at Scottsdale Community College

Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Elton John’s “The Circle of Life.” Even Shakespeare-in-the-round and the Roundabout Theatre Company. Theater is full of circles — some dizzying, some delightful. But I had another sort of circle in mind when heading out for a performance of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.”

The circle from child to adult, from teacher to mentor, from one mother to another. When high school felt torturous, theater was our daughter Lizabeth’s salvation. And Valley actress Maren Maclean, then teaching at Arizona School for the Arts, was there for her. To teach, to coach, to listen, to uplift and to embrace. I’ll never forget it.

Today I headed up to Scottsdale Community College for the matinee performance of “The Miracle Worker” so I could see Maclean’s daughter Scotlyn perform, knowing Liz would be right there with me if she could beam herself back from college acting studies in NYC. Our girls first met many years ago, and my how they’ve grown since.

Victoria Grace (L, Helen Keller) poses after the show with Sierra -- who brought lovely flowers to congratulate Grace on her performance

SCC  is another one of our circles. Our son Christopher earned his degree there and continues to take classes in career-related offerings, also working and volunteering with the school’s Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. It was actually Christopher who reminded me to hit “The Miracle Worker” — I kept feeling like late March was worlds away. The world spins quickly when we’re not watching.

Lizabeth also trained for two summers with Maclean — plus SCC theatre arts chair Randy Messersmith and other theater professionals — in the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, which celebrates its 25th season this summer. Auditions for the five-week program are open to folks ages 16 + and this year’s auditions take place Sat, April 21.

SCT “provides students with an opportunity to earn up to 10 semester hours of college credit while studying with professional actors who are currently working in their field.” This year’s program runs from May 29-July 3. The twenty students selected to participate will enjoy classes in stage movement, mask, voice and diction, and text analysis.

Carrie Rockwell (L, Aunt Ev) and John Viliott (Captain Keller) pose after Saturday's matinee of SCC's "The Miracle Worker"

The program’s founder and former director, Pamela Fields, will be teaching a master class in Anton Chekhov acting technique, and the college will be producing “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon. I first met Fields while we were fellow ASU Gammage Goers, and recall being wowed by her theater expertise, insightful sense of humor and warm spirit. (I wasn’t yet in RAK “Stage Mom” mode.)

I suppose the circle is growing into something of a line at this point. Actually several of them. I’ll be following one to Mesa Arts Center for the April 19-May 5 run of Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which features Jesse James Kamps and Maren Maclean as Benedick & Beatrice. I last encountered these characters during a Childsplay summer camp performance, which made me adore “Ado” even more.

The circle started long ago at Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley, where Lizabeth and fellow students enjoyed rich experiences in arts and academics. Lizabeth first took to the stage in Greasepaint Youththeatre productions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The King and I” (turns out a fellow actor from the latter is now a swing in “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway).

I remember her absolute delight — and that of her sister Jennifer (who performed with great aplomb in “Pinocchio” and “Hansel and Gretel” at Greasepaint) — when teachers came to see her perform, and made time after to chat about the experience and ask for autographs. Today it was my turn to make a little girl’s day, though Scotlyn hardly needed the encouragement. No time for autographs when you’ve got another show to prepare for. Your last chance to see SCC’s production of “The Miracle Worker” is tonight at 7:3opm.

Grace (L) posing with Bonanni after Saturday's matinee

It’s a lovely, charming piece directed with finesse by Ron Bonanni. The script is absolutely beautiful — and a real delight for those of us whose passion for words mirrors that of teacher Annie Sullivan. You’ll know both Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan better for seeing it, and you’ll be impressed with the professionalism of this production — which features scenic design by Alex Keen and costume design by Elizabeth Peterson. It’s produced by Randy Messersmith.

Kirsten Zollars (Anne Sullivan), Victoria Grace (Helen Keller) and Christopher Masucci (James Keller) gave especially strong performances — and each excels at showing their character’s smart and saucy side. I especially enjoyed songs and spirituals sung throughout the play, and the playwright’s subtle digs at the politics and gender stereotypes of the time. That’s a whole other circle that just keeps turning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the application/audition process for this year’s Summer Conservatory Theatre at SCC. You can buy tickets for tonight’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” at the SCC Performing Arts Center at the door (SCC is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd.).

Coming up: A city inside a museum

Doing poetry proud

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You don’t have to write poetry to enjoy it, as evidenced by the bios of nine students competing tonight (March 29) in the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Some write poetry. Some do sports. Some enjoy performing. But all have at least one thing in common — a talent and taste for reciting poetry aloud, which is exactly what the national Poetry Out Loud program seeks to nurture in high school youth.

Here’s the rundown on this year’s Arizona finalists — courtesy of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which presents the Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals in partnership with the Young Writers Program at ASU in Tempe and the Poetry Center at UA in Tuscon…

John DeMino of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix will recite “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest and “Ego” by Denise Duhamel. DeMino is a senior who spends a lot of time performing in plays inside and outside of school. He loves to act and wishes to acquire a BFA in acting and pursue a career in the industry.

Travis Marino of Freedom Christian Academy in Queen Creek will recite “Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview” by Gary Soto and “The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.” by Larry Levis. Marino is a 17-year-old junior. This is his second time as a finalist in the Arizona Poetry Out Loud competition. He is a prolific poet, publishing several poems portraying his passion.

Rebecca Andersen of Kingman High School in Kingman will recite “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh and “I am the People, the Mob” by Carl Sandburg. As an aspiring novelist, poetry means a great deal to Andersen. Not only does her love for Emily Dickinson possess deep roots into her childhood, but her beliefs match those of Carl Sandburg and her views of love parallel Sir Walter Raleigh. She plans on studying forensic psychology and creative writing in college.

Sophia Licher of Sedona Red Rock High School in Sedona will recite “The Albatross” by Kate Bass and “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Licher, a sophomore, is a member of the swim team, key club and photo club. She takes private singing lessons and enjoys art, writing, music, reading, photography, hiking, archery, swimming, traveling, animals, friends, family and, last but not least, eating. She would like to study marine biology or veterinary medicine.

Mark Anthony Niadas of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson will recite “The Meaning of the Shovel” by Martin Espada and “I Am!” by John Clare. Niadas is passionate about acting and has performed in several productions at St. Augustine. When not busy acting, he is working to improve his performance on the track team or spending time with friends. Mark, a member of the campus ministry, hopes to attend UNLV, Maryland State or Abilene Christian to study either business or psychology.

Cassandra Valadez of Sunnyside High School in Tucson will recite “The End of Science Fiction” by Lisel Mueller and “The Destruction of Sennacherib” by Lord Byron (George Gordon). Valadez is a leader with a passion to help others. She is a member of the National Honor Society, AVID, MESA and DECA. “I have a solid belief that through the uneven patches of my life I have picked up some of the most valuable lessons, and through the accomplishments in my life I have learned to be appreciative.”

Adriana Hurtado of Tri-City College Preparatory in Prescott will recite “Bilingual/Bilingue” by Rhina P. Espillat and “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Hurtado is a freshman. She is active in creative writing and is a member of the softball team.

Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson will recite “Catch a Little Rhyme” by Eve Merriam and “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. Furtado is a senior and is ecstatic about performing! He would like to thank his parents for their unconditional support, as well as his wonderful English teachers, Merle McPheeters and Kurt Garbe. Furtado is an actor hoping to pursue a career in film and is planning on making the move to L.A.

India Parsons of Westview High School in Avondale will recite “The Collar” by George Herbert and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Parsons is a senior with a passion for English and the swim team. She devotes hours every day to the exercise of her mind and body, so that she can excel in both arenas.

Two common threads emerge in the lives of those competing in this year’s Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals — an appreciation for the fine art of poetry and the choice to be engaged in their communities. One and all are doing poetry, and Arizona, proud.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to read a post with details about tonight’s event if you’d like to come out and show your support for these gifted and hard-working students — the competition is free and open to the public. Click here to explore poems, poets and more through the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Tarzan tales