UA Poetry Center to Offer Online Access
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will help expand the Poetry Center's audio/video collection.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications
May 4, 2010


The University of Arizona Poetry Center has received $49,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to further develop its audio/video collection. 

The grant will fund a Web-based project that will enable the UA Poetry Center to offer direct, online access to the collection from anywhere in the world.  

The online component will launch this fall, in conjunction with the Poetry Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The center currently provides on-site access to its collection of recordings dating from the early 1960s through use of a proprietary database and storage system.

The audio/video holdings are among the rarest materials in the UA center's library collection of contemporary poetry. “The recordings capture historic readings by many of the most important writers of the past 50 years," said Gail Browne, the center's executive director. 

"Scholars can hear authors discuss their own works and often hear early versions of works-in-progress," Browne said. "Poetry lovers can hear favorite poems in the poet’s own voice.”

The audio/video collection includes recordings from prominent poets and prose writers such as Gary Snyder, W.S. Merwin, Louise Bogan, Robert Creeley, Adrienne Rich and Denise Levertov, many of whom read at the Poetry Center throughout their careers.

Such recordings are exclusive to the Poetry Center and provide an extensive and ongoing record of the American poetry scene, as well as an historical record of one the nation’s earliest and longest running poetry reading series.

The grant also will fund enhancing its media database and search tool functionality, increasing the collection’s value to scholars, and the development of a user-comment module for poets, scholars and the public to share and store their knowledge about the collection’s contents.

James A. Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, designated the Poetry Center’s audio/video project as a “We the People” project.

“We the People” initiatives, according to the NEH, encourage and support projects that “explore significant events and themes in our nation’s history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.”

The Poetry Center was founded in 1960 by writer Ruth Stephan and dedicated by Robert Frost as a poetry library and literary center. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the center was one of the few venues in the U.S. created for the cultivation, presentation and appreciation of poetry.

In 2007, the Poetry Center moved into the award-winning Helen S. Schaefer Building – one of the nation’s few landmark buildings for poetry. 

In addition to providing an internationally renowned poetry library, the center sponsors many programs, including readings and lectures, classes and workshops, writing residencies, discussion groups, contests, exhibitions, K-12 educational resources, field trips and online curricula.

The NEH Digital Humanities Initiative Grant will be administered by Hale Thomas-Hilburn, research computing specialist for the UA’s College of Humanities, in collaboration with Browne and Rodney Phillips, the center's senior librarian. Jesse Roberts, who also works as an information systems architect, analyst and developer with The Boeing Company, will serve as the lead developer.

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Annie Guthrie

UA Poetry Center

520-626-4310

guthrie@email.arizona.edu