Reading Series

The Poetry Center’s Art for Justice grant funds a multi-year project that commissions new work from leading writers in conversation with the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, with the goal of creating new awareness and empathy through presentation and publication. Through the work of leading poets, the project seeks to confront racial inequities within the criminal justice system to promote social justice and change. This series began in 2018.

Since 2013, the Bagley Wright Lecture Series has provided leading poets with the opportunity to explore in-depth their own thinking on the subject of poetry and poetics, and give a series of public lectures resulting from these investigations. Lectures are delivered in partnership with organizations nationwide, including the Poetry Center. In February 2018, the Poetry Center co-hosted “You Are Who I’m Talking To: Poetry, Attention, & Audience,” a three-day conference featuring the first six BWLS lecturers.

In spring 1988, the Chicano Authors Series brought five Chicano/a writers to the University of Arizona, cosponsored by the Poetry Center, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Southwest Center. The full series included Sandra Cisneros, Pat Mora, Rolando Hinojosa, Lucha Corpi, and Denise Chávez.

During 2016-2017, the Poetry Center invited eight poets to give a series of investigative readings addressing the overlaps, contradictions, mutual challenges, and confluences the categories of climate change and poetry share with each other. Poets were asked to consider common questions: What role does poetry have in envisioning, articulating, or challenging our ecological present? What role does poetry have in anticipating, shaping—or even creating—our future? Several of the readings featured "climate talks" beforehand, by scientists with environmental expertise; these talks are not preserved on Voca.


This three-day symposium, hosted by the Poetry Center in 2008, explored the role of conceptual poetics in contemporary literature. The symposium included a keynote address by critic Marjorie Perloff as well as lectures, classes, panel and roundtable discussions, and literary presentations. These events were designed to explore new directions in innovative writing and to equip readers, writers, and scholars with tools to more fully understand and appreciate new forms within contemporary literature.

Founded in 2001 and curated by the faculty of the UA Creative Writing Program, the UA Distinguished Visitors in Creative Writing Series brings writers of distinction to the UA campus. Presented in cooperation with the University of Arizona Poetry Center, this series was known as the UA Prose Series prior to 2020. 

This series contains all of the readings given at the Poetry Center in the fall semester (August-December) of any year.

The Hannelore Quander-Rattee Works-in-Translation Reading is an annual presentation in the Poetry Center’s Reading and Lecture Series. Established in 2014, this event features translators of poetry, international poets, and writers and scholars working with the boundless possibilities of translation. This series honors the memory of translator, poet, and editor Hannelore Quander-Rattee, an active member of the Tucson poetry scene from 1978 until her death in 2011.

Curated by the poet Jason Zuzga, then a graduate student in the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program, “Hi-Tea at Po’ House” was a multimedia reading series combining poetry and poetic practice. "Hi-Tea" events hosted a wide assortment of poets, writers, and scholars between 2004 and 2005, and included hot tea and light fare for audience members.

Founded at the Poetry Center in 2020, the Institute for Inquiry and Poetics is a thought center designed to create space and time for poets to respond to pressing questions that reside at the intersection of social concern and poetry. Encouraging interdisciplinary modalities and investigative research, the Institute convenes groups of poets for readings and conversations.

The Morgan Lucas Schuldt Memorial Reading features emerging and innovative poets. Established in 2013, this event is presented annually as part of the Poetry Center’s Reading and Lecture Series, and is named after poet and publisher Morgan Lucas Schuldt (1978–2012), a devoted friend to poetry and other poets.

From 2003 to 2013, the Poetry Center brought emerging poets to Tucson through The Next Word in Poetry, a series created by former Literary Director Frances Sjoberg. Originally titled Emergence: The Next Word in Poetry, the series featured poets who, at the time the series was curated, had published a single book that makes a significant contribution to contemporary poetry. In 2013, this series was succeeded by the Morgan Lucas Schuldt Memorial Reading Series.

Poetics and Politics is a reading series developed and curated by professor Larry Evers of the Department of English and poet and professor Ofelia Zepeda of American Indian Studies program. Each iteration of the series—presented in 1992, 2002, 2011, 2015—was accompanied by a graduate seminar in the same semester.

From May 18 to 20, 2012, the Poetry Center's Poetry Off the Page symposium gathered poets whose work forges beyond the confines of text, using the stage and all of its demands to create a new syntactic breadth for the poetic voice. Performances for this symposium incorporated theater, film and video, sculpture, digital code and graphics, song and sound, dance, and more. 

In Spring 2016, the Poetry Center hosted "Spectacular Poetics, or the Poetry of Spectacle," a four-reader series that invited poets to address overlaps, contradictions, and confluences between poetry and spectacle. Events were conceived of as part reading and part craft talk.

This series contains all of the readings given at the Poetry Center in the spring semester (January-May) of any year.

Founded in 1994, the Poetry Center’s Summer Residency Program offers poets the opportunity to focus on their writing during a two-week stay in Tucson, Arizona. Residents give a public reading in the Poetry Center’s Reading and Lecture Series, often alongside a local poet.

The Big Read is an annual program of the National Endowment for the Arts that provides grants to nonprofit organizations around the country in support of community-wide reading programs designed to encourage community members to read and discuss a single book. The Poetry Center was a partner in Big Read programming in 2011 and 2015.

From October 19 to 21, 2017, the third annual Thinking Its Presence conference took place at the Poetry Center. Thinking Its Presence examines innovative creative writing and scholarship that re-thinks the complex and inseparable links between literary forms and the racialized thinking, processes, and histories that have shaped the United States since its founding. The 2017 conference centered on José Esteban Muñoz’ concept of the "ephemeral archive." Evening events that were free and open to the public are preserved on Voca.

The Tom Sanders Memorial Reading is an annual presentation in the Poetry Center's Reading and Lecture series featuring writers who were former students at the University of Arizona, writers who were formerly or currently members of the University of Arizona faculty, or University of Arizona Press authors. Established in 2017, this series honors the memory of Tom Sanders (1944-2016), a lifelong lover of poetry and a member of the Poetry Center Development Council.

Since the first festival in March 2009, the Tucson Festival of Books annually welcomes hundreds of authors and more than 100,000 participants to the University of Arizona Campus for a free, public celebration of authors, reading, and literacy. The Poetry Center coordinated poetry readings for the 2009 and 2010 festivals.

The Tucson Humanities Festival, a program of the University of Arizona College of Humanities, is a month-long series presented annually in October to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month. As part of the College of Humanities, the Poetry Center sponsors and coordinates an event within this larger series. 

Organized by the Poetry Center in 2011, the Tucson Lit Press Fest was a daylong celebration of the many poetry book publishers that make Tucson an important literary locale.

Founded in 2001 and curated by the faculty of the UA Creative Writing Program, the UA Prose Series presented prose writers at the Poetry Center twice each fall and spring semester. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this series became the Distinguished Visitors in Creative Writing Series.

Poetry Center

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