Phoenix Poet Laureate

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Meet Phoenix’s first Poet Laureate, Rosemarie Dombrowski, who will talk about her new role and her writing work.

TED SIMONS: THE UNITED STATES HAS A POET LAUREATE, THE STATE OF ARIZONA HAS ONE, TOO. AND NOW THE CITY OF PHOENIX HAS ITS OWN POET LAUREATE. WE RECENTLY SPOKE WITH ROSE-MARIE DOMBROWSKI ABOUT HER NEW ROLE. THANK YOU OH MUCH FOR JOINING US ON ARIZONA "HORIZON."

DOMBROWSKI: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IS A POET LAUREATE?

DOMBROWKSI: IT A POET WHO REPRESENTS THE STATE THROUGH EDUCATIONAL ENDEAVORS, OUTREACH EFFORTS, AND OF COURSE THE PROMOTION OF POETRY.

TED SIMONS: HOW DOES ONE BECOME A POET LAUREATE?

DOMBROWSKI: AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL YOU ARE NOMINATED AND I DON'T THINK I WAS QUITE READY FOR THAT SO WHEN THE OPPURTUNITY AROSE IN PHOENIX, PHOENIX PUT OUT A CALL FOR A POET LAUREATE A FEW MONTHS AGO, SOMEONE ALERTED ME TO THAT AND I DECIDED TO APPLY. SO ITS BY APPLICATION.

TED SIMONS: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO APPLY? WHY DID YOU PURSUE THIS?

DOMBROWSKI: PEOPLE PRESSURED ME FIRST OF ALL. AND OBVIOUSLY IT IS A DREAM COME TRUE FOR ME. WHEN YOU ARE A POET YOUR ASPIRATIONS ARE SOMEWHAT LIMITED. YOU THINK I WILL GET A COUPLE COLLECTIONS OUT THERE, TEACH SOME GREAT POETRY CLASSES, DO WORK IN THE COMMUNITY, SOMEBODY WILL INTERVIEW ME FOR THE NEW TIMES AND THAT IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS FOR A POET. WHEN YOU SEE SOMETHING LIKE A POET LAUREATESHIP AT THE CITY LEVEL, AND IT'S A CITY THAT YOU LOVE AND A CITY THAT YOU'RE INVESTED IN, YOU THINK MAYBE THIS IS MY BIGGER OPPORTUNITY.

TED SIMONS: INDEED. IT IS GREAT OPPORTUNITY. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU WERE SELECTED?

DOMBROWSKI: I HAVE SPENT MY ENTIRE CAREER WORKING TO GROW THE VISIBILITY AND RELATIVENESS OF POETRY BOTH IN THE CLASSROOM AND IN THE COMMUNITY AND I THINK MY VITA NICELY REPRESENTED THAT AND MY LETTER. I HAVE CERTAINLY WORKED WITH A VARIETY OF POPULATIONS BOTH AT ASU AND IN THE COMMUNITY AND ALL AGES, ALL PERSUASIONS ACROSS A VARIETY OF DEMOGRAPHICS. I THINK THAT A LOT OF THE PROGRAMS -- THAT -- I STARTED IN THE COMMUNITY HAVE HAD ENDURANCE AND BEEN SUCCESSFUL. I'VE ALSO SUCCESSFULLY EMBEDDED SOME PROGRAMS AT ASU OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS.

TED SIMONS: I WANT TO GET TO WHAT YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH BUT FIRST WHAT IS POETRY?

DOMBROWSKI: WHAT IS POETRY? POETRY IS HOME TO ME. POETRY IS THE MOST MALABLE GENRE. IT'S THE CONTAINER FOR EVERYTHING. IT'S THE CONTAINER FOR FACT, FICTION AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MEDICINE AND SCIENCE AND ILLNESS AND HEALING ANF SELF EXPRESSION. IT'S THE UBIQUITOUS CONTAINER.

TED SIMONS: AS THE UBIQUITOUS CONTAINER, IT WAS ONCE HUGE. IN THE RENAISSANCE IT WAS A BIG DEAL. IT IS NOT QUITE AS BIG OF A DEAL NOW. OR IS IT? HOW DO YOU GET POETRY BACK ON THE FRONT PAGES?

DOMBROWSKI: YOU ARE RIGHT. PEOPLE ARE NOT SITTING AROUND THE HEARTH READING POETRY ANYMORE WHICH WAS COMMON IN THE 19TH CENTURY AND I DON'T THINK THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE BUYING COLLECTIONS OF POETRY ANYMORE WHICH IS WHY I STARTED MY TINY PRESS CALLED RINKY DINK. IT IS A MICRO POETRY, MICRO PRESS SO WE DEAL ONLY IN MICRO POETRY IN MICROZINES. IT IS A TINY LITTLE TANGIBLE COLLECTION WE SELL FOR A $1 AND THAT CAN BE EASILY DISTRIBUTED AROUND THE COUNTRY. IT ALMOST SERVES AS LIKE AN APPETIZER TO A POET'S LENGTHIER WORK WHETHER THAT BE A CHAT BOOK OR A COMPLETE COLLECTION. I THINK ITS PALLETABLE TO THE MILLENIALS BECAUSE ZONES ARE HUGE IN SOCIETY IN GENERAL RIGHT NOW. AND ZINES ARE GENERALLY SEEN AS A FRINGE PUBLICATIONS. BUT ZINES ALSO REPRESENT THE MARGINALIZED FACTION AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE GRAVITATING TOWARD THIS AS A WAY OF EXPRESSING THEMSELVES AND AS A WAY TO READ AS WELL. I FEEL LIKE IF WE CAN SIT IN WITH THE ZINE COMMUNITY MAYBE WE CAN TRICK PEOPLE INTO THE READING POETRY AGAIN.

TED SIMONS: THAT IS AN INTERESTING WAY OF PUTTING IT. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH BESIDES TRICKING PEOPLE INTO THE POETRY? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THIS POSITION?

DOMBROSKI: YOU KNOW, I HAVE DONE A LOT OF READING ABOUT ARTS-BASED RESEARCH LATELY. I FEEL LIKE IF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES ARE ADVOCATING THE WRITING OF POETRY BY THE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS AND THE PEOPLE THEY ARE INTERVIEWING AND INVESTIGATING THERE IS CLEARLY A VALUE FOR THIS MEDIUM IN SOCIETY AT-LARGE. IT IS A MEDIUM THAT ASKS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS QUESTIONS. IT ALLOWS FOR SELF-EXPRESSION, IT ALLOWS FOR HEALING, IT BROACHES DIFFICULT SUBJECTS IN A CONTAINED LYRICAL, NOT NECESSARILY APOLITICAL WAY BUT CERTAINLY IN A POLISHED WAY. A WAY IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATIE EFFECTIVELY.

TED SIMONS: I MENTION METAPHORICALLY BECAUSE SO MUCH OF POETRY IS NOT TALKING ABOUT THE TREE WHEN YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THE TREE. HOW DO YOU GET THAT THROUGH TO A CULTURE WHEN EVERYBODY HAS A SMALL SCREEN TWO INCHES FROM THEIR FACE? IN THIS CULTURE, POETRY TAKES TIME. YOU HAVE TO READ IT MORE THAN ONCE OR TWICE TO GET WHAT IT IS TRYING TO DO. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

DOMBROWSKI: EVERYBODY ASKS QUESTIONS. EVERYBODY HAS QUESTIONS. I THINK THAT A POEM CAN OPEN WITH A QUESTION. A POEM CAN BE A PROCESS OF INQUIRY, A PROCESS OF INQUISITION, A PROCESS OF EXPLORATION. I THINK THAT IS SOMETHING WE WANT AS A SOCIETY. I THINK IT IS SOMETHING WE NEED AS A CULTURE, AS A PEOPLE. WE CONSTANTLY WANT TO KNOW WHY. I THINK CONTEMPORARY POETRY IN PARTICULARLY DOES A GREAT JOB OF EXPLORING THE WHY. I DON'T THINK IT HAS TO BE LONG. I SAID THIS SO MANY TIMES IN THE PAST IT IS NOT I AM NOT A PROPONENT OF THE THREE OR FOUR PAGE POEM BUT I'M A REAL PROPONENT OF MICRO POETRY. NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH TWITTER POETRY, BUT POEMS THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THE SPACE OF ABOUT 40 WORDS CERTAINTLY NOT MORE THAN 40 LINES.

TED SIMONS: AND POEMS THAT CAN BE UNDERSTOOD -- I THINK ANYONE WATCHING HAS BEEN IN A CLASS OF SOME KIND OR EXPOSED TO A POEM WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE A GRAND EXHIBIT OF LITERATURE AND YOU CAN'T MAKE HEADS OR TAILS OF IT, YOU CAN'T GET THROUGH IT, YOU CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT. THAT IS A PROBLEM, ISN'T IT?

DOMBROWSKI: IT IS A PROBLEM. THIS IS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO SING THE PRAISES OF BILLY COLLINS, WHO IS A POET LAUREATE. HE STARTED A WONDERFUL PROJECT CALLED POETRY 180 WHICH WAS A POEM A DAY FOR HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOMS. SOME IN THE LITERARY COMMUNITY DIDN'T WARM UP TO HIM QUICKLY TO BILLY COLLINS BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT HE WAS PROMOTING ACCESSIBLE POETRY AND THEY THOUGHT HE WAS PRODUCING ACCESSIBLE POETRY. I BOUGHT THAT FIRST ANTHOLOGY THE MONTH IT CAME OUT AND I BOUGHT THE SECOND ANTHOOGY 180 MORE THE MONTH THAT IT CAME OUT AND THAT IS WHAT ME AND MY STUDENTS ARE READING.

TED SIMONS: SO ACCESSIBILITY IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING. CCCONGRATULATIONS ON THIS. HOW LONG IS THE TERM?

DOMBROWSKI: IT'S TWO YEARS.

TED SIMONS: IT'S TWO YEARS? WELL GOOD FOR YOU AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU OUT IN THE COMMUNITY. YOU GOT A POEM OR SOMETHING ACCESSIBLE YOU CAN CLOSE US OUT WITH?

DOMBROSKI: I THINK I HAVE SOMETHING ACCESSIBLE MAYBE A LITTLE INFLAMED. IT IS CALLED ANTI CORRELATED FEM 'INISM AND ITS NOT IN ANY OF MY COLLECTIONS SO YOU CAN ONLY GET IT HERE. THE GOSPEL OF THE JOURNEY IS REALIZING THAT EATING IS A POLITICAL ACT. THAT THE WOODSTOCK OF THE MIND IS EVERYWHERE ON A TINY PLANET LIKE OURS. THAT THE INVENTORY OF THE BODY IS EQUIVALENT TO THE TRAUMA THAT COMES FROM CROP DUST IN OUR EYES CARCINOGENS IN THE CROTCHES OF OUR PANTIES BLACK WOMEN DOING THE MATH THAT PUT WHITE MEN ON THE MOON AND THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE QUESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION LIKE ADMITTING IT IS HARD TO TELL WHO IS SHOOTING WHILE WE ARE PRAYING WITH OUR EYES CLOSED.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON ARIZONA "HORIZON" AND CONGRATUALTIONS.
DOMBROWSKI: THANK YOU SO MUCH.
TED SIMONS: AND THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS THANK YOU FOR JOINING US,YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

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