Thom Gunn reads primarily from Moly (1971), along with many then-new poems that would be collected in Jack Straw's Castle (1976). He also reads several poems that would remain uncollected until his Collected Poems (1994).
Ishmael Reed performs poems from his extensive body of work, including several unpublished poems. He remarks that his reading will "start out with a song and end with a song"--that is, with his poems "Betty's Ball Blues" and "I'm Running for the Office of Love" as set to music by Taj Mahal and Allen Toussaint.
Poet, playwright, and novelist Owen Dodson reads a range of poems from his distinguished career. As he introduces his poems, Dodson reflects on his consciousness as a writer, from his undergraduate days at Bates College to his engagement with spirituality, Civil Rights, and social justice.
Juan Felipe Herrera performs his poetry and speaks movingly about song, language, and family in a reading given alongside Sherwin Bitsui for the 2009 Tucson Festival of Books. Herrera's Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, published by the University of Arizona Press, was announced as the winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award just two days prior to this reading.
Ofelia Zepeda reads from Where Clouds Are Formed (2008). This reading was originally given with Christopher Burawa.
Ofelia Zepeda reads from her collection Where Clouds Are Formed (2008).
Ofelia Zepeda reads from her work in English and O'odham as part of a multilingual poetry reading also featuring Alberto Rios (reading in English and Spanish) and Sherwin Bitsui (reading in English and Navajo). The reading includes selections from Water, an artist book created by Karla Elling to commemorate the Poetry Center's 50th anniversary. "Water" features a chainlink of poetry composed and translated by Bitsui, Rios, Zepeda, and Zapotec poet Natalia Toledo.
Julie Paegle reads from her collection Torch Song Tango Choir, accompanied by dancers John Dahlstrand and Melissa Fitch.
In a lecture titled "We, the People, Percussively Agree: Where the Pocket Beats and Breaks Between Go-Go and Hip Hop," Thomas Sayers Ellis discusses the history and evolution of Go-Go and its relationship to Hip Hop, integrating sound and song clips. He finishes by performing a poem from his book The Maverick Room (2005).
Nanao Sakaki performs poems and songs in the courtyard of the Poetry Center on Cherry Avenue. Asking the audience, "Any questions? I'll answer by my poems," Sakaki addresses themes raised by audience members such as anger, feeling at home, time, walking, and love for the desert and all forms of life.
Joy Harjo reads from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015) and How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (2002). She also plays flute and soprano saxophone. This reading was given as part of the Climate Change & Poetry Series.
Poet and singer-songwriter Brian Laidlaw performs the album Silently Loud (2023), a compilation of songs with lyrics by nonspeaking autistic songwriters set to music through collaboration between Laidlaw and the lyricists. Two Tucson lyricists whose work appears on the album, Joshua Greiner and Aulton Grubbs, respond to audience questions to conclude the event.