Word S6:E6 — Friends make the holidays memorable

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 5:15am

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What do a poetry library director from Tucson, a Lipan Apache Earth scientist/young adult novelist and a Tempe poet have in common? They are returning friends on this episode of "Word." It's a podcast about literature in Arizona and the region.

Guest list

Sarah Kortemeier
Patri Hadad
Sarah Kortemeier is library director for the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Sarah Kortemeier is library director at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson and offers one of the most extensive collections of contemporary poetry in the U.S. It's the largest such collection which is "open shelf."

Like so many places we love, the center was closed for a long time due to the pandemic. In November, Kortemeier announced a $135,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will be used to create captions for the entire historical collection of recordings on Voca, the Center’s audiovisual archive.

After an April appearance, she came back to "Word" to talk about the current haps at the Center and what it means to be "open" again to the public.

Dr. Darcie Little Badger is Lipan Apache, an oceanographer and Earth scientist as well as author of the debut 2020 young adult novel, “Elatsoe.” According to one critic, that "novel blends cyberstalking with Vampire Citizen Centers and Lipan Apache stories.”

Darcie Little Badger
Darcie Little Badger
Darcie Little Badger

Her second work, "A Snake Falls To Earth," was released in October. It’s another YA novel which features a central mystery at its core and was recently reviewed by NPR's Leila Fadel on "Weekend Edition Sunday." 

Little Badger was a guest on "Word" earlier this year and came back to discuss giving up her career as a scientist in favor of full-time fiction writing. Currently, she shuttles her time between Texas and the Los Angeles area.

Sharon Suzuki-Martinez is the winner of the the 2021 Washington Prize for her forthcoming poetry collection, "The Loneliest Whale Blues," out next Spring.

Sharon Suzuki-Martinez Valley Poet
David Martinez
Sharon Suzuki-Martinez is a Valley writer.

She grew up in Hawaii, then earned a Ph.D in English from the University of Arizona, and now lives with her husband David in Tempe, the ancestral homeland of the Akimel O’odham. 

Andrea Carter Brown, the editor of the Washington Prize series, described the collection, in part, in the following manner: "From the smallest cells to the largest creatures, these poems mix present and past, ancient mythology and popular culture, the real and the imaginary, individual and communal on a planet under existential threat."

Suzuki-Martinez was a guest in 2020, and she came back to "Word" to discuss how her Okinawan/Japanese heritage, living in Hawaii and currently residing on ancestral lands in Arizona as well as the coronavirus pandemic play into her new collection of poems, the first in a decade.


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We'll be back with our season-ender later this month.

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