Phoenix Poetry Series Brings Poets Jack Evans and Jed Allen to Urban Beans Coffeehouse

Poetry readings can be all over the map -- and what's for you depends partly on whether you prefer listening or performing. The gamut runs from chancy-but-adventurous open mics to competitive slams to official, pre-planned literary events, like the three-year-old Phoenix Poetry Series, currently caressing our ears at Urban Beans.

The third Friday of each month, the PPS program, hosted by Rosemarie Jeana and Nadine Lockhart, goes off at 7 p.m. in the modern-yet-cozy space, which was mad packed last Friday, August 20, for readings by longtime local favorite Jack Evans and Phoenix College instructor Jed Allen.

(September's reading will feature Sean Nevin, who's the director of the Young Writer's Program at ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center, and Josh Rathkamp, coordinator of Mesa Community College's creative writing program.)

Check out our take on last week's show after the jump ...

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Evans started things off with his surface-quiet observations of everyday life, in clear, easy-to-follow sentences. His reading consisted of short poems that chased each other and left lasting phrases like "constellations stitched into the flesh of a northern sky."

After a quick break to schmooze, admire the way-cool art on the walls, and enjoy such heady concoctions as the Smash Me S'More (about which I have to quote Gerry Goffin by way of The Crystals and say, "He hit me and it felt like a kiss"), the crowd returned to their seats to welcome Jed Allen.

Allen's set was less mild-mannered and included some explanatory chatting, which came in handy when he and Lockhart embarked on an excerpt from a work in progress, an address by an ancient Greek poet to the people of an imaginary society called the Borborygmi (named for the sounds one's guts make).

Allen envisions the hypothetical final product as a weird-ass classical theater-type performance with a chorus. Whether or not that ever happens, the call-and-response recitation of Zen-like precepts for letting go of attachment (phrased in ultra-contemporary American vocabulary) was soothing and energizing at once.

Unlike some recurring events, this series doesn't set aside time for an open-mic-style set of readings from poets who sign up the night of. We dropped Jeana a note to ask how PPS chooses poets, and she wrote back:

". . .[I]nterested parties can contact us in advance . . . Our objective has historically been to showcase some of the best poets AZ has to offer. We support nascent writers via summer workshops and group readings, but the remainder of the year is reserved for seasoned, published poets who fellow writers, students, and other interested parties can glean something about craft and voice from -- ultimately, be inspired by."

You can find Phoenix Poetry Series on Facebook -- or, if you don't Face, stop by one of the monthly events and add yourself to their e-mail list.

Urban Beans' former pastry chef left these wire and bottle-top mini-sculptures by the cash register.
Urban Beans' former pastry chef left these wire and bottle-top mini-sculptures by the cash register.
Julie Peterson

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