Local Poetry Still Happens

     I can’t help but share my unadulterated enthusiasm for these kinds of community-centered poetry events. We can read National Book award winners, and Pushcart Prize winners – often some of the best poetry in the nation – and yet I always have a soft spot in my heart for local poets of little to no acclaim. Or those whose fame merely sounds in cafes and community college lecture halls. Yes, local poets are often publishing all over the country, but given the expansive diaspora of poetry mags, well, sometimes I miss them.

Check out: https://rockcanyonpoets.com/2020/11/13/call-for-utah-poets-krcl-90-0-fm-mini-features/

Rock Canyon Poets, in participation with KRCL 90.9 FM, is seeking Utah poets to feature for the ongoing Poetry Still Happens series. The series gives a platform to poets living and working in Utah to share audio of an original poem.


     That’s why I love the work Rock Canyon Poets is doing, since it helps me discover local poets. I’m looking forward to reading their newest anthology. One of my favorite books of all time is Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Verse. Which played a huge role in helping me feel connected during a lonely first year at Utah Valley University. I was delighted when I met Aaron Guile, who casually mentioned he had been published in Fire in the Pasture while looking over my poems at a poetry workshop. Later he edited a poem of mine for Touchstones, the literary mag at UVU. His editing was rigorous, but not uncomfortable. I suppose I had never been asked to justify my choices as a poet before, and at the time I hated the term “poet” since I thought I was unworthy of the title (talk about anxiety mixed with pretension, geeze). He talked excitedly about how he was writing “4 poems on sine waves”, and gave off a kind of classic “eccentric scholar” energy that made me like him instantly.

     MyWord is the end-of-semester shindig for literary mags on UVU campus. When I was first published in Touchstones, I was excited to meet all the other poets there. They had been writing in close proximity to myself. That made me feel connected to them, like we were all creating art in a shared context.

      Laura Hamblin had just retired, and left a trail of students who could not stop singing her praises. I kind of felt like I had missed something special – and when I found her work in Fire in the Pasture it was a wonderful moment where I got to experience both the art and the reputation she left behind.

     That’s also part of the magic of local poetry – it’s written by your neighbors, your fellow students, your teachers. I was heading down a stairwell at UVU once, and saw a former teacher, who probably didn’t remember me, and blurted out: “I’m a huge fan of your poetry!” He looked a little surprised, since I doubt people shout at him about poetry that much, and I scurried away.

     Some of the most touching pieces I have ever read have come from unassuming places – young people and old, tinkering on their poem, shy to share it with the world. Want to see some fresh metaphors or unique perspectives? Check out teen poetry, or even poetry written by children. As Ted Kooser said in his “Poetry Home Repair Manual” (a must-read for beginning poets, in my opinion):

I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay.

Rock Canyon Poets

Rock Canyon Poets, in participation with KRCL 90.9 FM, is seeking Utah poets to feature for the ongoing Poetry Still Happens series. The series gives a platform to poets living and working in Utah to share audio of an original poem.

Recordings are limited to 4 minutes in length and should include the following:

  • 1-minute introduction – provide your name, short bio, where to find you online (social media or web site), your most recent book and/or where the poem you will be reading was published (if applicable).
  • Reading of a single poem, up to 3 minutes

What we are looking for

  • Contemporary poetry
  • Spoken word/slam poetry
  • Poems focusing on current events and social justice issues are a plus!

How to record

Use your smartphone’s voice memo app or another digital recording device. An easy way to record audio using the built-in voice memo app on your smartphone. Be…

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