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ASU poetry class taking on community art project

Rosemarie Dombrowski’s intermediate poetry workshop preparing for their community art project on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, at the downtown ASU campus. 

Rosemarie Dombrowski’s intermediate poetry workshop preparing for their community art project on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, at the downtown ASU campus. 

An ASU poetry professor is bringing her students out of the classroom and into the community by showcasing their work on Roosevelt Row.

Rosemarie Dombrowski got involved in the art scene of Roosevelt Row when she was a graduate student at ASU over a decade ago and is now helping current students get involved as well.

Dombrowski, a senior lecturer of English at ASU, said she wanted to focus on showcasing students' work in a lasting way, helping to impact the downtown community at the same time.

The seven students in her intermediate poetry workshop at the Downtown Phoenix campus, as well as an honors student from another class, will be creating a visual poetry project to be displayed at Lawn Gnome on Roosevelt Row during November's First Friday event.

"Each student will have an artist assigned to them, and they will work together to create their billboard," Dombrowski said.

Roosevelt Row is a trademark of Downtown Phoenix, and artists from around the area utilize it to address societal issues and let their artwork live on.

The students will be creating billboards to showcase a piece of original micropoetry that they compose during the semester, in 30 words or less. They will then work with their assigned artist to plan artwork to accompany the poetry on the board.

One of the most important parts of the project, to Dombrowski, is that they will be focusing on important issues.

"I am encouraging the students to focus on issues in the downtown community," she said. "How can we make a change?"

Although she said she is nervous to see how the project ends up, Dombrowski is excited for her students.

"The best part of being a teacher is seeing my students succeed and exceed my experiences at that age," she said.

Daniela Diaz, communications senior, said she is looking forward to the project even though she wasn't expecting it.

"We didn’t know we were getting into this, we just took the class," Diaz said. "Whenever we get together with (Dombrowski), it’s always reading aloud to people and it’s our own poetry. She’s a big proponent of poetry in the community, so she brought up doing a poetry project through her honors program, and we all just decided to go with it. This is the kind of thing she does, and we trust her."

Sawyer Elms, creative writing junior, said that he took Dombrowski's short stories class in the fall of 2015, then took her poetry class in the spring. He came back to take the intermediate poetry class this semester after falling in love with poetry in the spring.

"This project is exciting, cool and intimidating," Elms said. "I've never collaborated with someone else on an artistic project like this, so that will be a cool new challenge."

Elms said he is looking forward to the opportunity to showcase his work to people in a way that will last, rather than just a one-time showcase.

"Along with the art projects being viewed, there will also be a reading of the other pieces we write throughout the semester," he said. "This makes it more than just a Word document I'll save to my computer."

The students will meet with the artists in a few weeks, work on the projects all semester, and then unveil their work at First Friday in November.

Reach the reporter at or follow @alexisegeland on Twitter.

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