Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Richard Shelton Reads at CQL April 12

BISBEE, AZ – "It is July 20, 1989, early afternoon, monsoon season in the Sonoran Desert, and I am going back to Bisbee..."

So begins local author Richard Shelton's Going Back to Bisbee (University of Arizona Press), a powerful and evocative memoir of his journeys of discovery to, from, and back to Bisbee, Arizona. The Arizona State Library recognized Shelton's work by nominating it as a candidate for the 2007 ONEBOOKAZ statewide adult read, and Arizona readers from around the state showed their enthusiasm by voting Going Back to Bisbee as 2007’s ONEBOOK winner.

Now, Bisbee residents will have a chance to meet and hear Shelton first-hand when he presents a free reading from Going Back to Bisbee in the Library Meeting Room, 6 Main Street, on April 12 at 6:30pm. If time permits, he also plans to read from his latest book of poetry, The Last Person to Hear Your Voice. Those interested in asking him to autograph copies of any of his books, many of which are on sale at Atalanta’s Music and Books, 38 Main Street, can catch him there before the Read from 3-4:30pm.

The ONEBOOK read is one of many events scheduled in the Copper Queen Library's year-long celebration of the
“6 Main Centennial” (A Century of Service at 6 Main Street -- and 125 years of library service to Bisbee!) and is part of the annual statewide ONEBOOK read sponsored by the Arizona State Library.

ONEBOOK is an exciting program that brings communities together through literature. Beginning in April every year, the program encourages communities across the state to read the same book at the same time and participate in discussions and programs centered around that book.

In Going Back to Bisbee, Shelton chronicles his nearly lifelong love affair with southwestern deserts, beginning in 1956 when he came to Arizona, first serving as a soldier stationed at Fort Huachuca and later as an English teacher at Lowell School in Bisbee.

In the book, which uses a routine day trip to Bisbee as its setting, Shelton reflects on the history of the area, the beauty of the landscape, and his own life. Couched within the narrative of his journey are passages revealing Shelton’s deep familiarity with the region’s natural and human history. Whether conveying the mystique of tarantulas or the diversity of the mountain-studded topography, he brings, not surprisingly, a poet’s eye to this seemingly desolate country.

Now a Regents Professor in the English Department at the University of Arizona, Shelton is the author of nine books of poetry, including The Bus to Veracruz (1978) and Selected Poems: 1969-1981 (1982). His first book, The Tattooed Desert, won the International Poetry Forum's United States Award, and The Bus to Veracruz was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Going Back to Bisbee, his first major work of nonfiction, won the Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.

His latest book of poetry, The Last Person to Hear Your Voice, was published in February 2007 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

He is also the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a prestigious Completion Grant from the Lannan Foundation. In 1974, Shelton established, under the auspices of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a writer’s workshop at the Arizona State Prison, out of which have come eight books of poetry and prose.

A book about his experiences teaching creative writing to inmates in the Arizona prison system is scheduled for publication this year by the University of Arizona Press.

In 2006, Richard and his wife Lois were honored with the first annual Arizona Literary Treasure Award. This award recognizes an individual or individuals who’ve made a significant contribution to the literary fabric of Arizona.