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Word S9.3 — Shakespeare, hiking, poetry on vinyl and a haiku winner share some thematic space

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2023 - 5:05am
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2023 - 9:16am

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On this episode of Word, a Valley high school student will compete in a performance of Shakespeare on a national stage soon. She joins the show for a re-cap.

Also, we travel metaphorically from "rim to river" via a deeply researched collection of essays by a former Arizona Republic writer who hiked the Arizona National Scenic Trail. He'll also be at the upcoming Tucson Festival of Books this weekend.

And, poetry on vinyl? Yep.

Shira Schwartz
Basha High School student Clara Newton is the regional winner of the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition. She will perform in New York City on March 2, 2023.

We’ll talk to a local musician and poet about the project.

Plus, the annual KJZZ Haiku Writing Contest comes to a close. We have a quick convo with the randomly-selected winner.

Guest list

First up, Clara Newton is a senior at a Basha High School in Gilbert and recently placed first in a state regional William Shakespeare recitation tournament that’s associated with Southwest Shakespeare Company based in Mesa.

She’s an Arizona native who says being a huge theater nerd and lover of improvisational acting helped propel her interest in "The Bard."

According to a release, "The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform, and recite Shakespeare’s works. Through the program, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. In the Competition’s three progressive levels, students perform in their own schools, at ESU Branch community competitions, and at the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. Since 1983, more than 400,000 young Americans of all backgrounds have taken advantage of this opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling, and clarity."

Additional information regarding the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, can be found by visiting

Tom Zoellner
Tom Zoellner is a former Arizona Republic writer and author of his latest collection of essays, "Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona."

Former Arizona Republic writer Tom Zoellner has authored a collection of essays called “Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona” about his journey along the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

He’ll be at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 4-5 which features writers from all over the country.

Zoellner grew up in Phoenix and Tucson, but he began his book by describing that he “never felt [his] surroundings were ‘real’ in some nameless way.”

But, what does he mean by that statement?  

Cover art by John Vochatzer
"Split," a 7-inch vinyl record with music from Sweat Lodge, fronted by former Valley resident Rocky Yazzie, and poetry by Phoenix-based Shawnte Orion was released Feb. 25, 2023.

According to his publicist, Zoellner "currently resides in L.A .where he teaches at Chapman University (he also teaches at Dartmouth) and serves as the politics editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for ISLAND ON FIRE. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Republic, American Scholar, Time, The Oxford American, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and many other places.

He'll be doing a book tour in Arizona from March 17-25. Presentations will be conducted in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Green Valley.

Some music collectors will tell you vinyl records never went away, and that format is just experiencing a resurgence.

We welcome back Phoenix-based poet and musician Shawnte Orion whom we first talked to almost two years ago when he released “Gravity and Spectacle,” a collection of his poems with photos by Jia Oak Baker.

He has another collaboration, but this time it’s a 7-inch vinyl effort called “Split.” The record features some of Orion’s poetry arranged by musician Robbie Cohen on one side and music by former Valley resident Rocky Yazzie's band, Sweat Lodge, on the other.

Jamie Galloway
Jamie Galloway from San Tan Valley is the 2023 KJZZ Haiku Writing Contest winner.

They released the project last weekend.

He talked about his partnership with Yazzie and the process of bringing a project of this nature to fruition.  

This year's annual KJZZ Haiku Writing Contest asked you to: Write a poem about something you want to reset in your life.

We received over 300 entries and are pleased to reveal the randomly-selected winner who answered our prompt.

It’s Jamie Galloway from San Tan Valley. 

Listen to the podcast to hear the winning poem.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest and for listening to public radio as well as original podcasts like “Word.”

If you’re not yet a member of KJZZ, please consider all the value you receive from this public radio station and a make a donation of maybe $10, $20 or $30 per month. Whatever is in your budget is the right amount.

Portions of this program have been nominated for Edward R. Murrow and Public Media Journalists Association awards.

We’re off for Spring Break in March, but will return in early April with a fresh episode.

In the meantime, send us an email about this show, or a suggestion for a future episode.

Thanks for listening!