Among the many voices of street performers and artists at downtown Phoenix's First Friday, an ASU professor will hold a poetry reading that aims to educate audiences about the loss of love, death and other inevitabilities in life.
On Dec. 2, Rosemarie Dombrowski, a senior lecturer for ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, will be reading from her books "The Book of Emergencies" and "The Philosophy of Unclean Things."
Dombrowski began writing poetry in college but has loved it her whole life. She said her relationship with poetry began when her mother recited children’s poems to her.
“My mom used to read children’s nursery rhymes and poems to me when I was an infant, and I think I was memorizing them by the time I was 2,” Dombrowski said. “I’m guessing it was my mom’s love of lyrical writing that subconsciously instilled that in me.”
Dombrowski’s fascination with the written word and lyrical prose sparked a career in poetry writing. Her new book "The Philosophy of Unclean Things" is due to come out later this month. She said the book is a collection of poems that tackles the idea that fears have melded into everyday society.
“It deals with germaphobia, generalized phobias, superstitions, and cultural discombobulations,” she said. “It’s reflective and it’s also very universal in the sense that the poems are not just about me. They are about phobias that are generalized into the environment that we live in. ... Overall, the collection is about decay and loss and how there are absolutes in life that we can’t stave off.”
From the heavy topics discussed in her poems, Dombrowski said she wants her readers to know that nothing lasts forever and they will have to seek ways to cope with that harsh reality.
“It’s definitely about the things that we want to cling to as human beings,” she said. “We want to cling to love, we want to cling to things that are comforting, and those things have expiration dates like everything else.”
At the poetry reading, audiences will get to hear Dombrowski read excerpts from both of her books. Sally Ball, associate English professor in the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said that people benefit from hearing poetry aloud such as Dombrowski’s because it helps them better understand what the poem means and allows for meaningful connections with the works of art to be formed.
“I think when you go to hear somebody and you see that person standing up there in front of the crowd, you register that they want to communicate with you," Ball said. "Language that might seem foreign or strange really becomes accessible and you really hear the content of what they are trying to say.”
Poetry readings are regularly scheduled once a month at Changing Hands Bookstore. Pinna Joseph, community event coordinator for the bookstore, said that members of the community should come to Dombrowski’s reading, as well as other readings, for a chance to be exposed to a variety of poets and styles.
“We feature readers that are national and local,” she said. “They can listen to a wide range of poets at the poetry readings.”
In addition to seeing professional poets perform, audience members have the opportunity to read their poetry in front of a crowd.
“They can also come to read their own poetry. Usually, we have an open reading after the featured reader.”
The open readings are for everyone to enjoy, and there is no need to sign up, Joseph said.
Rosemarie Dombrowski will read at the West Camelback Road location of Changing Hands Bookstore on Dec. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m.
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