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UA Poetry Center coalition recieves $200,000 grant to further mission

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

Part of the three-tiered roof at the UA Poetry Center. The UA Poetry Coalition has received a grant from the Ford Foundation for $200,000. 

The UA Poetry Center has become one of the founding members of the Poetry Coalition, a collection of arts-centric groups and organizations from around the country unified in a pursuit to spread works of poetry.

After a year of planning, the coalition launched last November. It was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation at the beginning of July. The Academy of American Poets will administer the grant.

In a press release, Jennifer Banka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, praised the Ford Foundation’s decision. She said the financial support is “an important validation of the vital role poetry plays in our culture and communities.”

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UA Poetry Center Coordinator Sarah Gzemski said the grant will go toward the Poetry Coalition’s goals, like support programs for different member organizations as well as annual meetings.

This year’s Poetry Center Annual Meeting will take place on campus at the Helen S. Schaefer Building. Gzemski confirmed that while a definitive date has not been set, the meeting will occur “sometime near the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.”

More than anything, Gzemski believes the grant will help get the general public’s attention.

Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

Railing at the UA Poetry Center. The UA Poetry Coalition, of which the Poetry Center is a founding member of, has received a grant from the Ford Foundation for $200,000. 

“There is a misconception out there that no one cares about poetry,” Gzemski said. “That’s just not the case. We and our other member organizations have seen an uptick in program attendance the last few years.”

The Poetry Coalition landed the grant by members exhibiting programs based around a theme. Tyler Meier, the UA Poetry Center executive director, believes those themes help give the organization a unified vision and goal.

“The Poetry Coalition is helping create new awareness about the role poetry and poets play in our culture, making more visible the way poetry can help us relate,” he said.

Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

The UA Poetry Coalition has received a grant from the Ford Foundation for $200,000. 

The prospect of the UA hosting the meeting excites Meier as more and more people join the coalition’s member organizations. “The University of Arizona Poetry Center is thrilled to be a part of this historic alliance of peer organizations,” he said.

Last year’s theme, “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry and Migration,” brought U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera to Tucson for the Festival of Books, a reading at a local elementary school and a question-and-answer session with Arizona poet laureate Alberto Rios.

According to Gzemski, events with guests like Herrera get non-poetry majors involved and interested.

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“We want to make our programs available to as many people as possible,” she said.

Founded in 1960, the UA Poetry Center is part of the College of Humanities and aims to spread the culture of poetry on a global scale. The center offers workshops to the Tucson community including tips for writers and guest speakers.

Every summer, the Poetry Center hosts a resident poet and, for two weeks, the resident can focus on writing while staying at the center. The poet receives a $500 stipend and gives a reading at one of the center’s events. This year’s resident was Noah Baldino from Purdue University.

Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

The UA Poetry Coalition has received a grant from the Ford Foundation for $200,000.


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