Creative Writing Professor Grant Jenkins Travels to Poetry Symposium

Professor Grant Jenkins attends "Poetry off the Page" in Tuscon, Arizona

Grant Jenkins

Professor Grant Jenkins visited Tuscon, Arizona to attend the third biennial symposium at the University of Arizona, called Poetry off the Page. During his visit, Jenkins spent time in one of the few buildings in the country that is entirely dedicated to poetry. The weekend was packed with creativity and talent– including performances, screenings, and visits with a variety of poets. The symposium’s purpose was to facilitate discussions and performances of poetry that is not contained in a book. Topics of panels ranged from how to incorporate the body more into poetic processes to how poets are using digital technologies to get their work off the page and out into the world.

Professor Jenkins was particularly struck by the performances at night which really did “take poetry off the page,” much more even than a straight-forward reading or recital would do. They all involved performances of some kind, and many incorporated video or digital technology, particularly the Black Took Collective, which also featured three poets writing live on screens, sporting costumes, and interacting with each other in theatrical ways.

Jenkins also spent a good amount of time talking with poets about their work, namely Julie Patton and Brent Cunningham. Julie is an independent poet and performer who manages a collective in an abandoned building in inner-city Detroit. Brent runs the Poet’s Theater project in the Bay Area that performs low-maintenance (ie, little rehearsal or memorization) plays by poets for poets.

During his visit, Jenkins also spent time with local poets who truly gave Tucson a reputation for having a vibrant experimental poetry scene. The spectacular weekend of this event shed light on non-written modes of making and performing poetry, as well.