Poet and professor Evie Shockley introduces poems woven together by a subtle thread of committed attention to place and what happens there—the places of language, self, ancestry, and tragedy. She introduces Mónica de la Torre engaging with languages as wild topography ("Is to Travel Getting to or Being in a Destination"), Marilyn Chin uncovering the political territory of the self ("A Portrait of Self as Nation: 1990-1991"), and Nikky Finney channeling the ancestors into the present ("The Girlfriend's Train"). Shockley closes with poem that sits with the terrible resonances of place names turned into a catalog of violence ("les milles").
You can also watch a 2019 recording of Evie Shockley reading work commissioned as part of the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice series.
Have you checked out the new Voca interface? It’s easier than ever to browse readings, and individual tracks can be shared. Many readings now include captions and transcripts, and we're working hard to make sure every reading will have these soon.
[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Julie Swarstad Johnson:
[00:00:03.39] You're listening to Poetry Centered, where we invite you into Voca, the audiovisual archive of the University of Arizona Poetry Center that's home to more than 1,000 recorded poetry readings. I'm Julie Swarstad Johnson, here to welcome you and introduce our host.
[00:00:19.44] We'll be led through the archive today by Evie Shockley, a poet and professor who thinks, creates, and writes with her eye on a Black feminist horizon. In 2023, you can look forward to a new book of her poetry titled Suddenly We, and you'll get to hear an incredible poem from that book at the end of today's episode. Evie's work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and she's a member of the collective Poets at the End of the World.
[00:00:46.11] Place is a subtle thread that weaves throughout Evie's selections. Place expansively meaning language as a place you can traverse and encounter, the complicated place of the self and ancestors, and place names as a history of violence. You'll hear this in poems by Mónica de la Torre, Marilyn Chin and Nikky Finney, in addition to that forthcoming poem of Evie's. Evie, thank you so much for being here with us today.
[00:01:13.48] Greetings. My name is Evie Shockley, and I'm speaking to you from the Andromeda Galaxy's Earth Outpost, commonly known as Jersey City, New Jersey. The first recording I'd like to share is poet Mónica de la Torre reading Is to Travel Getting to or Being in a Destination, recorded on November 20, 2008.
[00:01:39.03] I no longer remember how or where I first encountered Mónica's work. I have a vague sense of it being in the period soon after I moved to New Jersey and began exploring the New York City poetry scene, so around 15 years ago. There's a good chance I came upon her at an event sponsored by Belladonna or the Poetry Project, or maybe it was an MLA offsite reading, someplace where young and/or feminist and/or experimental, quote, unquote, poets were gathering. What drew me to Mónica's work was its opacity, in combination with its unpredictability, which is to say I typically entered her poems in a state of not knowing exactly where we were starting from and having no idea where we'd end up.
[00:02:32.01] What was bound to happen, however, was an encounter with language or languages, Spanish and English, maybe a little French, that made me aware that language was a much bigger, wilder beast than I'd been treating it like. That is, her poems create in me a recalibration, similar to the one that occurs when you've been driving, mostly on autopilot, and thinking about groceries or grades. And then you almost hit something you hadn't seen, and suddenly, you're very conscious that you're controlling a powerful 4,000 ton machine in a world of fragile traffic systems and even more fragile bodies.
[00:03:21.57] Mónica's work might reorient me spatially to the page or consist of sounds that either aspire to meaning or devolve away from it or, as in the poem I've selected from the archive, make a list out of decontextualized, recontextualized discourse. This poem makes my antennae perk up, as soon as I realize that what I'm hearing is a poem made of the non-poem parts of a reading. It's the age old question of what is poetry re-presented as a question of where am I in relation to this poem, its settings, its speakers, its ideas, its politics? So here is Mónica de La Torre reading "Is to Travel Getting to or Being in a Destination?"
[00:04:24.14] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Mónica de la Torre:
[00:04:27.52] I will read tonight from the book Public Domain. And I'm just going to read you two pieces. One I thought was very apropos, because I happen to be in Arizona, and you'll see what's apropos about it. And also, I just wanted to start by saying that, sometimes, I think that, when poets introduce the poems that they're about to read, they reach an artistic level that sometimes they don't reach with the poems that they read. It's like a genre in itself, like the introduction to a poem.
[00:04:57.97] So in a way, this book Public Domain is really about striving for a space where poetry can happen amidst the barrage of information and text and language that surrounds us. So it's really like striving for poetry and searching for it, but maybe doesn't necessarily find it. It's about that, that search. So that said, I will begin with this first poem, called "Is to Travel Getting to or Being in a Destination?"
[00:05:29.50] 1. The next poem was inspired by something I overheard at the Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum in Lookout Point in Golden, Colorado. My partner and I were on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, and came across a sign for the exit to the grave, so we decided to check it out. All I knew about Buffalo Bill came from the Beatles song. Show biz wasn't off the mark.
[00:05:53.23] On display at the museum were films and posters advertising Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress Rough Riders of the World, featuring cowboys and Indians, Mexican vaqueros, Arabian riders, Japanese soldiers, Irish lancers, South American gauchos, and Russian cossacks engaging in marvelous feats, sports, and pastimes.
[00:06:15.61] A group of tourists was standing next to me. [SPEAKING SPANISH], the father said to his kids, who was happy to show them pictures of his countrymen.
[00:06:26.65] Buffalo Bill died in 1917. The poem, called "The Hanged Man Game," is a couplet made of 19 letters in the first line and 17 in the second.
[00:06:41.34] Two, the next poem is called "A Place is a Container of Places."
[00:06:46.89] For this road trip I was telling you about, we had a very good map of Colorado that ended right at the Four Corners. I looked up driving directions from Durango to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon online instead of buying the map of Arizona. When we actually got to the Canyon we had to get off at Arizona 67 and take Road 212, portions unpaved for about a mile and a half. At the end of the road, we were to turn left on Road 282, portions unpaved.
[00:07:17.94] We never saw any numbered roads. We'd been on a gravel road for over 20 minutes when we realized that the area's majestic woodlands were completely charred from a recent wildfire. What had I typed on MapQuest, my traveling partner asked. The North Rim, I replied.
[00:07:40.32] A Place is a container of places-- a monument, a landscape, a rock, a gorge. A point of interest is a chamber of echoes.
[00:07:53.89] Three, I overheard a guy at the Grand Canyon Lodge say I figured out this trip is all about erosion. Who likes to overhear things? This next poem is about overhearing.
[00:08:11.57] Four, I was at the corner deli one night when I noticed that one of the illegal workers was hurt. I asked what happened to him. And the guy at the cashier shrugged and said, "nothing." Another Mexican worker came running from across the street and tried to punch the worker whose eye was bleeding again.
[00:08:29.51] I left the store empty handed as an ambulance and a police car were arriving on the scene. Someone in the street, oblivious to what was going on was asking his friends, what's the best place you've ever been in? Your answer here.
[00:08:46.76] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:08:52.15] The second recording I have for you is poet Marilyn Chin reading "A Portrait of Self as Nation, 1990-1991," recorded on October 23, 1996. I was really excited when I saw the date of this recording, because it was just a couple of years before the first time I saw Marilyn read in person. She was reading at Duke University from her first book The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty. And I very much remember hearing her read her signature poem, "How I Got That Name."
[00:09:37.63] Now, I no longer remember if I came to the reading with her book in hand or was moved to purchase it after hearing her words in the air, but I clearly asked her to sign my copy. And she wrote "to Evie, sister poet, comrade" in pink ink. And what I've always loved about Marilyn's work is the exuberance of her language, the ranginess of her allusions, and the punniness of her puns. You can't hear her read without recognizing how much joy she gets out of making language do its dances to her tune.
[00:10:20.62] Little did I know then, given that I was studying British Victorian fiction and 20th century African-American literature, that, 20 years later, I'd be writing an essay on Emily Dickinson's influence on women poets of color in which Marilyn's poetry would feature.
[00:10:40.33] Writing that essay brought home for me how much we share a taste for language that is delicious to the tongue and a recognition that traditional formal structures don't so much corral you into sonic excess as seduce you into letting it loose.
[00:10:59.47] She and I share a love of Dickinson and Gwendolyn Brooks for that very reason, as well as an uninhibited urge to bring the political implications of everything we write about to the surface. The poem I've selected is from The Phoenix book. Like her signature poem, this one's tackling what it means for her to be of and in a sense, between two places. She uses polyvocality and playfulness to pull the covers back on the coziness between empire and desire. Here is Marilyn Chin reading "A Portrait Of Self as Nation, 1990-1991."
[00:11:52.69] OK, two more poems. One, I like to read this one for Janice Dewey's wonderful class. It's called "A Portrait of Self as Nation, 1990-1991."
[00:12:18.80] Two pedantic epigraphs-- Fit in dominata servitus, in servitude dominatus-- a Latin proverb meaning, "in mastery, there is bondage. In bondage, there is mastery."
[00:12:34.73] And another epigraph from Giorgos Seferis, the modern Greek poet-- The stranger and the enemy, we have seen him in the mirror.
[00:12:45.17] Let me talk a little bit about this poem. It took me two years to write. It began as 20 pages, boiled down to five. Meanwhile, the Gulf War happened and I incorporated that as well.
[00:13:00.89] It began as a dramatic monologue in the tradition of-- we talked about this-- an Eliot, Browning, Frost, Shakespeare, so forth. But in the voice of a 19th century courtesan. I was playing with polyphonic voices. Later, I hope that the voice blended with my own. Finally, I hope to transcend the personal voice with a collective historical voice.
[00:13:26.90] Both speaker and addressee have multiple identities-- the beloved is the other, the invader, the colonialist, the bad guy, the reader. And I call this a polemical love poem, in that, in a poem, there's no room for the other's point of view, right? Poetry is not journalism, right? [CHUCKLES]
[00:13:50.09] Furthermore, I believe that all my love poems are political. In the Asian-American context, love is one of the most powerful forms of assimilation. For when one falls in love, it is necessary to annihilate parts of one's own identity in order to merge with the identity of the other. This is a powerful and dangerous form of assimilation.
[00:14:15.47] "A Portrait of the Self as Nation, 1990-1991."
[00:14:21.38] Forgive me, Head Master, but you see, I have forgotten to put on my black lace underwear, and instead, I have hiked my slip up, up to my waist, so that I can enjoy the breeze. It feels good to be without. So good as to be salacious, the feeling of flesh kissing tweed.
[00:14:46.61] If ecstasy had a color, it would be yellow and pink, yellow and pink, Mongolian skin rubbed raw, the serrated lining especially fine, like wearing a hair shirt inches above the knee. When was the last time I made love? The last century? With a wan missionary?
[00:15:08.42] Or was it San Wu the bailiff? The tax collector who came for my tithes? The herd boy, the ox, on the bridge of magpies?
[00:15:18.11] It was Roberto, certainly, high on coke, circling the galaxy. Or my recent vagabond love, driving a reckless chariot, lost in my feral country. Country. Oh, I am so punny, so very, very punny.
[00:15:36.77] Dear Mr. Decorum, don't you agree? It's not so much the length of the song, but the range of the emotions. Fear has kept me a good pink monk and poetry is my nunnery. Here I am, alone in my altar. Self-hate, self-love, both self-erotic notions.
[00:15:57.11] Eyes closed, listening to that one hand clapping-- not metaphysical trance, but fleshly mutilation-- and loving it, myself and that pink womb, my bed, reading "Jean Ping Me" in the "expurgated" where all the female protagonists were named Lotus.
[00:16:17.60] Those damn licentious women named us Modest, Virtue, Cautious, Endearing, Demure-dewdrop, Plum-aster, Petal-stamen. They teach us to walk head-bent in devotion to honor the five relations, 10 sacraments.
[00:16:35.39] Meanwhile, the feast is brewing elsewhere. The ox is slaughtered and her entrails are hung on the branches for the poor. They convince us, yes, our chastity will save the nation. Oh, mothers, all your sweet epithets didn't make us wise. Orchid by any other name is equally seditious.
[00:16:59.66] Now, where was I? Oh, yes, now I remember. The last time I made love it was to you. I faintly remember your whiskers against my tender nape. You were a conquering barbarian, helmeted, halberded, beneath the gauntleted moon, whispering Hunnish or English.
[00:17:19.67] So-long, oolong, went the racist song. Bye-bye, little chinky butterfly. There is no cure for self-pity. The disease is death, ennui, disaffection, a row of flesh-colored tract homes crowding my imagination.
[00:17:36.08] I do hate my loneliness, sitting cross-legged in my room, satisfied with a few off rhymes, sending up precious haiku to some inconspicuous journal named "Left-Leaning Bamboo."
[00:17:51.14] You, my precious reader, o, sweet voyeur, sweaty, balding, bespectacled in a rumpled rayon shirt and a neo-Troubadour chignon, politics mildly centrist, the right fork for the right occasions, matriculant of the best schools-- herewith my last confession, with decorous and perfect diction. I loathe to admit, yet I shall admit it.
[00:18:21.68] There was no colonialist coercion. Sadly, we blended together well. I was poor, starving, war-torn, an empty coffin to be filled. You were young, ambitious Lieutenant with dreams of becoming prince of a "new world order," Lord over the League of Nations, lover, destroyer, savior.
[00:18:48.95] I remember that moment of beguilement, one hand muffling my mouth, one hand untying my sash. On your throat dangled a golden cross. Your god is jealous. Your god is cruel.
[00:19:04.31] So when did you finally return? And was it a second coming? My memory is failing me, perhaps you came too late. We were already dead. Perhaps you didn't come at all. You had a deadline to meet, another alliance to secure, another resistance to break. Or you came to often to my painful dismay.
[00:19:30.53] Oh, how facile the liberator's hand. Often, when I was asleep, you would hover over me with your great, silent wingspan and watch me sadly. This is the way you want me-- asleep, quiescent, almost dead, sedated by lush immigrant dreams of global bliss, connubial harmony.
[00:19:56.54] Yet I shall always remember and deign to forgive long before I am satiated, long before I am spent that last pressured cry, your little death under the Halcyon light. You would smoke and contemplate the sea and debris, that barbaric keening of what it means to be free as if we were ever free, as if ever we could be.
[00:20:23.24] Said the judge, "Congratulations. On this day, 15th of November, 1967 Marilyn Mei Ling Chin, application z-z-z-z, you are an American citizen, naturalized in the name of God the father, God the son, and the Holy Ghost. Time assuages, and even the Yellow River becomes clean. Meanwhile, we forget the power of exclusion. What you are walling in or out, and to whom you must give offense?
[00:20:58.85] The hungry, the slovenly, the convicts need not apply. The syphilitic, the consumptive may not moor. The hookwormed and tracomaed, and are likewise infested, the gypsies, the sodomists, the mentally infirm, the pagans, the heathens, the nondenominational, the coloreds, the mixed-races, and the reds, the mutants, the communists, the usurious, the Hibakushas, the hags.
[00:21:33.47] Oh, connoisseurs of gastronomy and keemun tea, my foes, my loves, how eloquent your discrimination, how precise your poetry. Last night, in our large rotund bed, we witness the fall. Ours was an aerial war. Bombs glittering in the twilight sky against the star spangled banner, dunes and dunes of sand, fields and fields of rice, a thousand charred oil wells, the firebrands of night.
[00:22:09.98] Ecstasy made us tired. Sir, master, dominatrix, fall was a glorious season for the hegemonists. We took long, melancholy strolls on the beach, digressed on art and politics in a quaint wharfside café in La Jolla. The storm grazed our bare arms gently. History has never failed us. Why save Babylonia or Cathay when we can always have Paris?
[00:22:44.04] Darling, if we are to remember at all, let us remember it well. We were fierce, yet tender, fierce and tender. Thank you.
[00:22:59.37] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:23:06.57] The third recording I've selected to offer is poet Nikky Finney reading "The Girlfriend's Train," recorded on February 7, 2019. Nikky Finney is another poet I first encountered while I was at Duke, though she may have been reading at UNC Chapel Hill when I initially saw her. I remember being awestruck by her sheer presence. She's impressive and beautiful to look at, but I felt immediately the depth and groundedness of her spirit, as her poems make evident and she was reading at that time from her book Rice. When she writes and reads, she is channeling the ancestors.
[00:23:55.14] She famously writes long narrative poems, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 pages long. Yet unmistakably, just as with the minimalist gems of Lucille Clifton, a poet Nikky and I both adore. Every word of Nikky's poems is carefully carved out of the rich granite of all possible words and each is made to shine because of the precise words placed so precisely around it. There's a deep spiritual attention and a compass pointed at truth that guide the making of her poems.
[00:24:35.47] When she put out her second collection, The World is Round, I leapt at the chance to review it and tried hard to communicate something of how her soft, unflinching observations and recollections about her South Carolina upbringing buried themselves in my Southern soul like diamonds returning home to sweet darkness. I take notes on her ability to extend a metaphor as long as she wants without ever breaking the thread. And I take inspiration from her commitment to calling the names that must not be forgotten-- Toni Cade, Saartji Baartman, and her aunt, Nina Davenport, just for example.
[00:25:23.00] The poem you're about to hear is from that second book. It's a breathtaking piece whose power derives, in part, from the fact that it doesn't attempt to answer the question that she's being asked. The poem's not avoiding a response, it's lingering, tarrying with the very urgent query. Here is Nikky Finney reading "The Girlfriend's Train."
[00:25:50.95] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:25:58.18] I was in Philadelphia, and I had been writing poems about violence against women. And because my life is what it is, every time I do that, something-- if I call out to the universe in some kind of way, something comes back to me. I'm not sure how that happens, but it does. And so I was finishing a reading in Philadelphia in an auditorium. It was a snowy night.
[00:26:24.07] And as soon as I got to the last poem, the back door opened, and a woman walked in. She stood in the back by the wall, and she kept her coat and her boots on. She didn't get comfortable. And after the book signing, she came up to me and she asked me one question-- or she told me something. She didn't ask me something.
[00:26:45.25] And I'd never seen her before. And she said, hey, you write like a Black woman who's never been hit before. And that's the epigraph for this poem called "The Girlfriend's Train."
[00:27:00.61] I read poetry in Philly for the first time ever. She started walking up all the way from in back of the room. From against the wall, she came-- big coat, boots, eyes soft as candles in two storms blowing. Some things she could not see from way back there, but could clearly hear in my voice. Something she needed to know before pouring herself back out into the icy city night.
[00:27:26.50] She came close to get a good look, to ask me something she found in a strange way missing from my Black woman poetry. Sidestepping the crowd, ignoring the book signing line, she stood there waiting for everyone to go, waiting like some kind of representative. And when it was just the two of us, she stepped into the shoes of her words.
[00:27:48.91] Hey, she said. You write real soft, spell it out kind, no bullet holes, no open wounds in your words. How do you do that, write like you've never been hit before?
[00:28:02.23] I could hardly speak. All my breath held ransom by her question. I looked at her and knew there was a train on pause somewhere, maybe just outside the back door where she had stood listening, a train with boxcars that she was escorting somewhere when she heard about the reading and came in. A train with boxcars carrying broken women's bodies, their carved up legs and bullet-riddled stomachs momentarily on pause from moving cross country. Women's bodies, brown, Black, and blue, laying right where coal cars and cattle usually do.
[00:28:35.26] She needed my answer for herself and for them too. Hey, she said. We were just wondering how you made it through and we didn't.
[00:28:46.20] I shook my head. I had never thought about having never been hit and what it might have made me sound like. You know how many times I've been stabbed, she asked me. She raised her blouse all the way above her breasts. The cuts on her resembling some kind of grotesque wallpaper. Hey, she said. How many women are there like you?
[00:29:09.78] Then I knew for sure, she had been sent in from the Philly cold by the others on the train to listen, stand up close to make me out as best she could. She put my hand over top hers, asked could we stand up straight back to straight back, measure out our differences right there. And then she gathered it all up, wrote down the things she could, remembering the rest to the train load of us waiting out back for answers-- full to the brim with every age of woman, every neighborhood of woman whose name had already been forgotten.
[00:29:39.63] The train blew its whistle. She started to hurry. I moved towards her. And we stood back to back.
[00:29:46.83] Her hand grazing the top of our heads. My hand measuring out our same widths. Each of us recognizing the Brown woman latitudes, the Black woman longitudes in the other. I turned around, held up my shirt, and brought my smooth belly into her scarred one. Our navels pressing, marking out some kind of new equatorial lines.
[00:30:14.86] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:30:23.22] I'll close by sharing a poem of my own. The final poem in my forthcoming collection Suddenly We, which be published by Wesleyan University Press in March 2023. But before I do, I want to thank the University of Arizona Poetry Center and all the amazing people who make it the place that it is for the excuse to spend hours in the vocal archives listening to a slew of terrific poems and the opportunity to share three of them with you on this podcast that I've enjoyed so much since it began airing.
[00:31:04.16] If I had heard the word Uvalde last year, I would have had no association for it at all. But now it's a word I know and will likely never forget. A word that is loaded with a doubled association-- a town in South Texas and an American tragedy because of the school shooting that took place there this May, in which a teenager with an assault rifle killed 21 students and teachers.
[00:31:36.39] The linguistic doubleness of Uvalde isn't unique. And it isn't dependent upon my previous unfamiliarity with the town. Since May, I've been hearing and using the word Buffalo in the same way, signifying a whole city in upstate New York and one particular neighborhood grocery store, where another teenager used a semiautomatic rifle to end the lives of 10 people. My poem was written well before either of those horrific events. And its primary setting is in a distant French town.
[00:32:18.91] Yet, it is about Uvalde and Buffalo just the same. The name of my poem is "Les Mille," which is the name of that town where a World War II era internment camp was located from which 2,000 people were ultimately deported to Auschwitz. Ironically, mille is also the French word for "thousand."
[00:32:49.96] "Les Milles." There is no poem unless I, we can find the courage to speak. In the middle of a vacation in the South of France, a chance to visit a World War II detention center arises-- dusty and bleak, just outside Aix-en-Provence, just past the scent of lavender, in an ancient heat. The first thing you see and the last thing you visit is a boxcar. You know what it means.
[00:33:27.19] It takes the same toll on the breath, the pulse, as the rusted shackles displayed in another damned museum. There are histories of torture preserved all around us, formally, officially with placards and institutional funding, casually, quietly unavoidably in the quality of a glance, the poverty of an existence, the demographics of a mall, a church, a prison. In a former tile factory, we learn again how anything can be misused, how anyone can be abused. A kiln is not a dormitory until it is.
[00:34:20.79] Here, there slept people who were too Jewish to be German, too German to be French, too despised and feared to be defended even by those who feared they, we might soon be despised. If I now say Palestine, have I forgotten Auschwitz? If I say settlements, have I now forgotten camps? If I don't say Palestine, have I forgotten Elmina, Selma, Cape Town, Haiti? Must every place name on Earth be a shorthand for violence on a map of grief?
[00:35:10.57] Orlando, Charleston, Wounded Knee, Sharpeville, Gettysburg, Tiananmen Square, Gaza, Katyn, Plaza de Mayo, Soweto, Dominican Republic, Hiroshima, Srebrenica, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ankara, Adana, Odessa, Nanking. Yesterday and yesterday's yesterday, the planet pushing up sycamores and lavender, rice, and plantains, fertilized with lead and blood with rain from poisonous clouds and the dust that becomes of the dead. Adam, whose name means clay was not baked in a kiln. Eve's name means life implies the day that follows.
[00:36:30.64] Will tomorrow be a place we can name after something that grows? What is the proper use of a wall? There are so many histories buried in the space and silence around, within these words. These lines make a poor but portable museum, a set of sketches, palimpsests, faint and painfully incomplete that map the territory of the human with arrows pointing in every direction-- some leading from you, some leading to you. There is no poem unless you, we can find the courage to hear.
[00:37:26.37] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Julie Swarstad Johnson:
[00:37:32.70] Evie, thank you. It's hard to come back in after such a powerful poem. Thank you so much for this moving episode. Listeners, thank you for spending this time with us. May we all find the courage to hear and to speak.
[00:37:46.80] We'll be taking a break after this episode, but you can expect new episodes later this fall. In the meantime, we invite you to check out the newly redesigned Voca platform, which has new features, including captions and transcripts for an ever-growing number of readings. We're really excited about all of these changes and hope you will be too.
[00:38:05.40] And we're so grateful to our colleagues over at the College of Humanities, who have done so much to make this happen. Thank you so much for listening and sharing in these poems with us. And we'll see you next time.
[00:38:15.90] Poetry Centered is a project of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, home to a world class library collection of more than 80,000 items related to contemporary poetry in English and English translation. Located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Poetry Center Library and buildings are housed on the Indigenous homelands of the Tohono O'odham and Pascua Yaqui people. Poetry Centered is the work of Sarah Gzemski-- that's me-- and Julie Swarstad Johnson. Explore Voca, the Poetry Center's audio-visual archive, online at voca.arizona.edu.