ASU professor Rosemarie Dombrowski takes poetry outside of the classroom

Poetry class gets an uplift with performance pieces and independent study publication

To reinvigorate the poetry scene on ASU's downtown campus, Rosemarie Dombrowski, an English professor, has opted to take learning outside of the classroom.

She teaches an intermediate poetry class downtown and, last semester, her students performed their pieces several times around Phoenix. 

Now some of those students are in an independent study with her in which they will produce “Rinky Dink Press,” a micro poetry journal. This semester, her beginning poetry workshop will also have a end of semester showcase.

“My students generally participate in multiple community projects throughout the course of the semester," Dombrowski said. "I think my primary objective anytime I talk about poetry … is to make the point that poetry matters, that poetry can transmit something powerful.”

Dombrowski said she uses her experience living downtown to shape the experiences of her students.

“I think because I’m really embedded in the downtown arts community," Dombrowski said. "My ability to bring my students into those projects and to sort of allow them to have the same connections that I’ve spent over a decade building, gives them a kind of advantage coming in."

She seeks to give opportunities to her students, most of whom have never done public poetry readings before.

“For an intermediate poetry class to be doing three public readings and to be polished enough that seasoned poets in the community are coming up to them and coming up to me afterwards saying, ‘Wow, that was really impressive’ — that’s the level that I want them to be working at,” Dombrowski said.

For journalism junior Kelsey Hess, who took Dombrowski's class last semester, one new opportunity is expanding her writing style.

“It’s opened me up to bringing creative writing back into what I do," Hess said. “It’s hard when you’re a journalism major to keep that creative writing side of you open and alive. A lot of what I’ve been doing over the past few years has been straight forward news reporting and writing, and that’s very structured and it’s often formulaic.”

She says it’s also helped her be a better writer.

“I’m very thankful that all these pieces fell into place the way they did because it’s ultimately making me a better writer and a better editor — probably a better journalist because I’m bringing these creative elements back into my writing,” she said.

Last semester, Dombrowski's intermediate poetry class was the featured reader at a show put on by Phoenix Poetry Series, a poetry collective which worked in the confines of the International Beat Poetry Festival.

“They had poems comprised of lines from other beat poems that they had puzzled, collaged together in new ways," Dombrowski said. "They each also wrote an original beat poem."

Now Dombrowski has brought a select group of students together to create “Rinky Dink Press,” which is calling for micropoetry.

“Micropoetry is, by some people's definition, poetry that is about 20 words in length," Dombrowski said. "A collection of micropoems is basically about 5-to-6 micropoems that are related, that all fall under a thematic umbrella or that are numbered sections of a larger whole."

Only one other publication in the country deals specifically with micropoetry, Dombrowski said.

Public policy junior Kat Hofland, who works on "Rinky Dink Press" with Dombrowski, said this is a unique opportunity to work on a publication. 

"Now we’re looking at expanding this as much as we can to really open up a completely different type of press," Hofland said. "It’s a unique press, it’s different than what has been published anywhere else; no one else is doing micropoetry in this exact format."

Related Links:

Race, class, gender and love: ASU alumnus to star at international poetry slam

Arizona State Poetry Society seeks unpublished work for contest


Reach the reporter at avcabral@asu.edu or follow @angeligagaa on Twitter.

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