Every fourth Friday, local poets and poetry aficionados come together for Phoenix Poetry Series. Founded in 2008, this poetry event aims to generate interest in high-quality poetry and offer the Phoenix community the opportunity to see and hear what poetry can do.
Phoenix Poetry Series was founded by ASU professor Rosemarie Dombrowski, graduate student Nadine Lockhart and esteemed local poet David Chorlton.
Dombrowski and Lockhart hosted this month’s event, which featured a round-robin style open mic. Right from the start, they established a light-hearted mood for the evening.
Lockhart opened the reading with a few of her own poems. As Lockhart struggled to find the next poem she wanted to read, she joked, “I always see professional poets do this and think, ‘Wow, they’re so arrogant, I want to stand up here and pretend I can’t find it.’”
This casual mood continued throughout the night. It was clear that the series has established a consistent crowd, as many of the attendees were very open and friendly as they read their poetry.
Although most of the poets in attendance were regulars to the series, they were welcoming to new poets, including first-time attendee Cherylin Schutt.
Schutt, a senior English literature major at ASU, was quite anxious before reading her poetry, but the atmosphere helped ease her nerves.
She appreciated their receptiveness and reflected, “I feel very good about this group. It’s a good collaboration, and I hope to come back.”
While Schutt has never read her poetry before at the series, she has been writing and reading her poetry for several years.
“My poetry is an ode to love for language. I want the audience to get something out of it, one line or emotion,” she said. “That’s what poetry’s about, and that’s what I hope I accomplished tonight.”
Schutt heard about the series through Dombrowski, who is a professor for one of her classes at ASU. Dombrowski uses her connections at the school to bring in the younger community as well as fellow professors.
Instead of an open mic, next month’s event will feature readings from prominent Phoenix poets Jefferson Carter and Mark Haunschild. This format will continue throughout the year, with two poets reading each month.
Phoenix Poetry series features a wide variety of poets throughout the year, from esteemed local poets to ASU professors and graduate students.
“There is a competition for features, as we only have 20 slots each year,” Dombrowski adds. “We have a high quality expectation as the bar has been set really high.”
The series prides itself on its anchor to quality poetry and hopes to nurture less experienced, young poets by teaching through osmosis.
“We want students to know that poetry matters and that it doesn’t have to be slam or performance,” Dombrowski said.
While this month’s open mic night was unique for Phoenix Poetry Series, they encourage those interested in reading their poems to attend Caffeine Corridor, a similar poetry series at the same venue that has an open mic aspect each month.
Phoenix Poetry Series occurs every fourth Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1229 Grand Avenue in Phoenix.
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