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UW selects poetry to speak to freshman

You Are Never Where you Are. (Photo courtesy the University of Washington)

By TOM TANGNEY
KIRO Radio

It's become something of a tradition for universities to choose a book for the entire freshman class to read.

The University of Washington took the road less traveled this year by going with a book of poems, called You Are Never Where You Are.

How quaint, in a time when hardly anyone reads anything anymore, the UW is handing out reading material that wasn't even ever read when people still read - poetry!

You Are Never Where You Are is the title of the poetry collection put together by the university itself. The Selection Committee's Lisa Oberg says they wanted a break from its previous choices, which were all non-fiction.

"We really tried to make sure that the poems did speak to a wide group of people, and in particular our students. And we were trying to avoid a little bit of the Dead Poets Society, so to speak, and not pick poets like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and things that people were likely to have already encountered in high school. So, some voices they probably hadn't heard before."

Alberto Rios' poem "I Saw You Tomorrow" provides the title for the collection You Are Never Where You Are.

You're on an airplane
In a car. You're in a car

On the bus. You're on the bus
Going home as you daydream

At your desk. On your desk
You have a postcard of Alaska.

You are never where you are,
And when you are, you're leaving,

Late already for something else,
A meeting, a class, shopping

And isn't shopping fun, you think,
Like being on a sightseeing tour.

But you're late and you must get home
Or you're home and must get going,

Late either way, exasperated,
Tapping your foot to get us all

Out the door. Goodbye, you wave
To yourself, standing there.

Creating a book of poetry is something of an experiment for the University of Washington, but after all, isn't that's what college is for?

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