By Christopher Fox Graham
Sedona Red Rock News
Sedona Red Rock News
Before the invention of musical instruments, people would gather to tell stories.
Once a month in Jerome, a group of 30 to 50 people gather at the Anderson–Mandette Art Gallery to listen to spoken word.
At each Poetry Tonight! event, three featured poets read 20 to 30 minutes of their own work, followed by a one–poem open mic.
"I love the community aspect of it," said , one of the gallery's owners. "It's a chance to hear poets put out a body of work."
Members of the audience are encouraged to sign up and read their work. The night's host rotates each month, letting a different member of the poetry community invite the featured poets, Anderson said. The rotation adds a diversity of voices.
Anderson, and his wife, Margo Mandette, have been holding a poetry reading for about three years at their gallery, in the old Mingus Union High School building. He estimates that roughly a hundred poets have featured at the event.
The featuring poets have come from all over and some from around the country. Recently, features have included poets from Houston and Boston.
"This was the first time, but it won't be the last," said David Ward about attending the event. Ward, of Sedona, is a senior at Sedona Red Rock High School and was one of Friday's featured poets.
Ward started writing in seventh grade, but became more interested in it during his freshman year of high school, he said, Ward has honed his work at the Poetry Salon, a weekly poetry workshop roundtable that has been gathering at Coffee Wednesday nights in West Sedona for over four years. Ward is now the author of his first chapbook, "Death of the Full Moon."
"When I started going to the Salon, I never thought I would have my own chapbook," Ward said. "I didn't even know what a chapbook was."
A chapbook is an inexpensive, self–published book. While some poets manufacture their own chapbooks at photocopy centers, many, like Ward's, are bankrolled by friends or patrons and sent to professional photocopy and graphic design companies.
The teacher that pushed Ward further into spoken word and poetry when he was in seventh grade was Karyl Goldsmith, of Sedona. She was the second poet to feature on Friday and teaches senior literature and advancement placement at Sedona Red Rock High School. Some of her students, including her daughter, Hannah, a junior at SRRHS, were in the crowd.
Though Goldsmith has been writing since she was a high school student, she said, this was one of her first chances to turn page poetry in to spoken word.
"This is one of the most exciting things to happen to poetry since – ever," Goldsmith said.
"Poetry used to be dead white men," she continued, "sometimes it still is. But now it's alive."
Poetry Tonight! and the Poetry Salon are two poetry and spoken word programs in Northern Arizona sponsored by the , a formal organization of poetry communities in Prescott, the Verde Valley, Flagstaff and smaller towns throughout Northern Arizona. The group, soon to be a nonprofit, promotes poetry, shares featured poets and promotional costs, runs a Web site, http://norazpoets.org, and toll–free hot line, listing poetry events across
"Without NORAZ, poetry in Northern Arizona would not be where it is today," Ward said. "The poetry scene in Sedona is exploding. "NORAZ came it at the right time and we're riding that wave."
Poets who discover one poetry event Northern Arizona can be quickly connected through the Web site and word–of–mouth network to other events which offer more avenues, such as the open mic or the salon workshop, with which poets can share and improve their work and help other poets do the same.
Six poets from around the Verde Valley, and the events host, Rebekah Crisp, of Sedona, read at the open mic.
Eric Brunet, of Flagstaff, was the third and final feature of Friday's event. Brunet, 34, lived in of a year and half before moving to Flagstaff.
Brunet published his first book, "Flee Now, Young Dog," in 1991 and is working on the manuscript for his second, "Ukulele Aikido."
Friday's event was his "first taste of the scene," he said, but he plans to get active. He was active in Tucson's poetry scene and is glad to see a scene in Northern Arizona.
"I'm jumping back into the water with both feet."
To attend 928–634–3438.
Contact Christopher Fox Graham