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UW Creates Original Poetry Collection for 2010 Common Book

This year marks the first time that the UW Common Book has been poetry.

2010 UW Common Book

The book, You Are Never Where You Are, which freshmen received at summer orientation and will be incorporated in the first-year experience through classes and events, is a collection of 15 previously published poems that do not appear together anywhere else.

The University of Washington is likely the only university to challenge students with a collection of poems for its common reading program.

A selection committee of faculty, staff and students looked to represent multiple poetic styles and backgrounds to acknowledge and reflect the broad experiences of UW students—that and a steady eye toward what might resonate with an 18-year-old drove the selection process. Work by Heather McHugh, Richard Hugo, Colleen McElroy and Theodore Roethke—poets associated with the UW—stands alongside poems by writers from across the country and around the world, such as New York-based Philip Levine, Texas-based Naomi Shihab Nye and Nobel-Prize-winning Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska.

Now that the book is a reality, the committee is making plans to incorporate the volume and the genre of poetry into the academic year. Three students on the selection committee are avid participants in poetry slams and coordinated a standing-room-only slam as part of the University’s Welcome Week for students. Other ideas include supporting student and faculty-initiated programming, seminars, bringing poets to campus to read and discuss their work, a film series, and a final event in April, to coincide with National Poetry Month.

Think you don't like poetry? Consider UW English professor and poet Rick Kenney’s words: "People like poetry like people like music: nobody doesn’t. If some think they don’t, they just haven’t listened to the right thing."

To stay in touch with and get the latest news about the UW Common Book, become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/uwcommonbook.

You Are Never Where You Are is available exclusively at the University Book Store (in all branches and online), where additional copies are being printed on its Espresso Book Machine.

The Common Book is sponsored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Read more about the UW Common Book.

October 2010  |  Return to issue home

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