STANDING ROOM ONLY; that's what latecomers to the first two gatherings of the UA Poetry Center's Poetry Biw and Next series discovered at the entrance to the Modern Languages Building auditorium.
The September reading with Gary Soto and Rigoberto González opened up the series with great promise; and even the regrettable absence of Robert Creeley (who missed his flight) for the October reading didn't dampen the crowded auditorium's reception for poet Maggie Nelson.
Poetry Now and Next: A Millennial Celebration continues through March, each month pairing an invited poet of national merit with the emerging writer of their choosing; "someone whose work inspires hope about the vitality of the art of poetry at the turn of the millennium," says event coordinator Frances Shoberg.
Taking the podium this week is UA Creative Writing director Jane Miller, the author of several books of poetry and essays, including Memory at These Speeds, August Zero and Working Time: Essays on Poetry, Culture, and Travel. Hopefully her selections will include the spectrum of her work, from lush, lyrical prose poems to incisive commentary on modern life. Among her list of commendations are a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA Fellowships.
Joining her is Eleni Sikelianos, a poet whose own sparely worded yet image-laden poetry has earned her an NEA Fellowship, a Fulbright Artist-in-Residence award, and the James D. Phelan Award. Her publications include The Book of Tendons, The Lovers Numbers, and to speak while dreaming. Sikelianos lives in New York City, where she works as a poet-in-residence in the public schools and co-edits the St. Mark's Poetry Project Newsletter. Poetry Now & Next: A Millennial Celebration, continues at 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 1, with a free reading by Jane Miller and Eleni Sikelianos in the UA Modern Languages Auditorium. A reception will follow, with books for sale. Sign language interpretation and other accommodations may be requested in advance. Call 321-7760 for information.
The two poets present a colloquium on the state of poetry and the uses of influence at 11 a.m. Thursday, December 2, in Room 205 of the Swede Johnson Building, northwest corner of Speedway Boulevard and Cherry Avenue.