The University of Arizona Poetry Center, part of the College of Humanities, is launching a new, virtual Institute for Inquiry and Poetics. The inaugural convening, offered in partnership with the Hurand Connection Fund, will feature U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and poets Jennifer Foerster and LeAnne Howe, editors of W.W. Norton’s new literary anthology, “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations.” It is the first volume in Norton’s literary anthology series dedicated to the poetry of Native Nations.
The inaugural convening’s theme is “Beyond the Obvious,” seeking answers to the question, How does poetry create conditions for radical belonging? Throughout October, the Poetry Center will release responses from participating poets on its website. On Oct. 29, the center will present a free reading and conversation with the poets via Zoom. For a link to that event and further program details, visit https://poetry.arizona.edu/calendar/evening-joy-harjo-leanne-howe-jennifer-foerster.
The convening is the first program of the Hurand Connection Fund, an initiative started by Josh Hurand and his family. Hurand is a poet and a longtime member of the Poetry Center’s advisory board. At 46, he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, something he continues to live with. Rooted in the Jewish values of justice, humanism, and love, the fund was established to honor his voice, to bring people together across differences, and to use arts and creativity as a means to connect. More information on the Hurand Connection Fund, housed at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, can be found at www.hurandconnection.org.
“It’s truly an honor to work with Josh and his family as he continues to create his legacy of connecting others, healing, and community building. The Hurand Connection Fund and the programs it supports are a wonderful illustration of the beautiful voice Josh brings to the world,” says Brenda Landau, JCF director of legacy development.
“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,” says Tyler Meier, executive director of the Poetry Center. “The institute is founded in a belief that social, racial, and environmental justice are rooted in language, and that poets are preeminent language makers that can help us reckon with society’s most perplexing questions. Further, the institute is founded in the belief that each person never loses the capacity to learn, grow, and change; and because of this radical capaciousness, we hope to reorient conversations and reframe our future through imaginative language and action.”
About the collaboration, Hurand says, “I can’t think of a better time to bring people together to celebrate the poetry of indigenous peoples of this country. What began as an idea by my sister Sara, to bring light from the depths of my diagnosis, is materializing into the first of many powerful, creative programs supporting poets and artists to help bridge our divides. Our family is grateful for the stellar work of the staff of both the University of Arizona Poetry Center and the Jewish Community Foundation for making this dream a reality.”
Sara Hurand adds, “As I sit in Tel Aviv, a world away from my family, I am excited that this program brings us meaningful ways to connect and work together. Through challenges we discover new paths and new opportunities. This program, wrapped in hope and adaptation from indigenous voices is a wonderful start. Thank you to the Poetry Center, the Jewish Community Foundation, and everyone who can share the experience with us.”
Encouraging people to save the Oct. 29 date, Poetry Center Literary Director Diana Delgado says the center “is excited to be in community with Joy Harjo, LeAnne Howe, and Jennifer Foerster, to celebrate the work of indigenous voices, new and old.”