Here Are 4 New Phoenix Poetry Collections You Should Read

Phoenix's literary community has seen some great poets develop their artistic writing. Writers including Alberto Rios and Norman Dubie have affected and inspired the emerging generation. And now, finding poetry — whether on a local stage or a bookstore shelf — is easier than ever.

During 2016, four Valley poets have released collections of their work. Rosemarie Dombrowski, Bill Campana, Patricia C. Murphy, and Josh Rathkamp shared with New Times the inspiration behind their collections and their advice for aspiring writers. Get ready to make room on your nightstand.

The Philosophy of Unclean Things
By Rosemarie Dombrowski

Inspired by a germaphobic environment and a fixation with rituals and avoidance, Dombrowski released her second collection of poetry, The Philosophy of Unclean Things, published by Finishing Line Press. Dombrowski is committed to keep the art form alive by “educating emerging poets” and pushing the evolution of poetry in society. Dombrowski is not only a poetry advocate in the Valley, she is also a senior lecturer at Arizona State University, founder of Rinky Dink Press (a publisher of micro-poetry in micro-zine form), co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, poetry editor for Four Chambers, and the host of the monthly literary salon at Valley Bar, Get Lit. She also holds degrees in anthropology and English, and a Ph.D. in American literature.

Her last book, The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), was a poetic memoir collection of her experiences with autism, particularly with her nonverbal autistic son, addressing the mystery of the disorder. Her new book addresses the objects of the germaphobe’s fear, dead birds, and admiration for other germaphobes. Dombrowski describes her new collection as “ecological, genealogical, uninhibited (weird), and lyrical.” Dombrowski’s favorite poem from her upcoming collection is “Infidelity,” an autobiographical piece that addresses — literally and metaphorically — the title of the book. “It’s also about our desire for permanence in both love and life, and the inevitable acceptance of the impermanence of both,” she says.

Dombrowski will be reading at Changing Hands Bookstore on Friday, December 2, with Bill Campana. The Philosophy of Unclean Things will be available through Finishing Line Press and Amazon.

Her writing philosophy and advice to aspiring writers is: “Read, write, delete, repeat.”

Poems from Deep South Scottsdale 
By Bill Campana

Bill Campana's witty personality has enchanted more than readers. The two-time National Poetry Slam semifinalist released his third collection of poetry, Poems from Deep South Scottsdale, through Four Chambers Press. He worked on the book from January 2014 to February 2015. “Seven of those months I was unemployed for the first time in 35 years and contemplated an early retirement,” he says. He describes this collection as, “wry, witty, observational, poignant, and unique.” Compared with his other two books, this one is broken into chapters, “subject matter is a little more personal, and explores different topics in greater detail than the first two books,” he says.

Campana abandoned writing for 20 years and came back to it in 1997 when he moved to Phoenix. “I had a real desire to express myself in some form,” he says. For Campana, to be a poet in Phoenix is an honor. He has been hosting weekly events over the years. Recently, he celebrated his 19th anniversary of reading his poetry in public. Campana hosts a poetry open mic, Caffeine Corridor, every month at {9} The gallery on Grand Avenue.

Campana will read with Dombrowski at Changing Hands on Friday, December 2. He will also read at his year-end “best of” closeout at the Caffeine Corridor on Friday, December 9. His book is available for purchase on the Four Chambers website. His earlier books, Said Beauty to the Blues and The Ragtime of Modern Living, (both published by Brick Cave Books) can be purchased on Amazon, through Brick Cave Media, and out of the trunk of his car. Campana is working on his fourth book and plans to write 100 poems in 2017.

His advice to aspiring writers is to “keep notes, observe your surroundings, and get into a rhythm. Don’t be afraid of a blank sheet of paper or a laptop screen. You’ve got to be better than emptiness.”

Read on for new works by the founder of the Superstition Review and a Virginia G. Piper writing fellow.

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Ofelia is originally from Mexico. She's writing her first novel, Almost a Pilgrim, and is a freelance writer and photographer.