Yesterday I visited one of the third largest poetry collections in the country, after poetry centers in New York City and Chicago. This gem is located in Tucson, Arizona. 

In need of some listening material? Part of what makes this collection so exciting is its online video archive. The first recording they have is one of Stanely Kunitz’s reading in 1962. More than 1000 writers have read or lectured in the series since.

Visiting writers were invited to stay in the Poet’s Cottage (Ms. Stephan donated a second house which became the library). Over the front door of the cottage a wrought iron legend read, “The Fieries and the Snuffies,” a lyric from a cowboy song, “I Ride an Old Paint.” Ruth Stephan wrote that poets are fieries and snuffies. “They work in fiery bursts of creativity and then snuff out most of the results with an eraser.” Inside the cottage visiting writers began a tradition of inscribing the walls with signatures and aphorisms. In April 1984 Denise Levertov wrote this offhand rhyme above the kitchen table:

“Poet-ponies sniff the breeze;

They scent a friendly stable

Where fiery, snuffy, at their ease,

Can whinny as they please –

No bit or bridle there to tease

And oats upon the table.”

Register (for free), here, and start listening!