Downtown Devil

Great communities promote and embrace their artists—and celebrate all forms of the arts. That includes not only the visual and performing arts, but also the written word.

In Phoenix, we’re working to amplify local literary voices with a new, special appointment in our arts and culture department.

In October, the City of Phoenix began the search for our first ever poet laureate. I’m proud to report that I named arts and culture leader and ASU professor Rosemarie Dombrowski to the distinguished role.

Rosemarie is an excellent artist who is spreading the joy of the written word to the next generation. She’s a senior lecturer of English composition, creative writing and literature at ASU’s downtown campus, as well as co-founder and editor of the undergraduate writing journal, “Write on, Downtown.”

When she’s not in the classroom, Rosemarie is a writing machine: She edits an independent literary magazine and hosts of two monthly reading series, and she runs a local press that publishes micro-poetry in micro-zine form. Do yourself a favor and check out her 2013 Huffington Post essay “A Love Letter to Phoenix” for a taste of her infectious passion for our city.

During her term as our official ambassador of literacy and poetry, Rosemarie will give public readings and compose poems to mark special occasions.

Through her own understanding of the vital role the arts play in the health and well-being of our city, she will work hard to inspire our residents through written and spoken word.

Phoenix is overflowing with artistic talent and inspiration and our poet laureate will help channel that into great poetry.

We’re seeing a spike in new literary magazines and presses publishing the works of local writers, and nearly every night of the week there is a literary event taking place at an art gallery, café, bookstore or theater—from poetry and fiction readings to spoken word and storytelling performances.

We are so fortunate to name a writer who will not only inspire us, but also capture and evoke what makes our community special.

Rosemarie knows better than anyone that the best poetry opens up our eyes and let us see the world in different ways, and I can’t wait to read and listen to what she does next.

This is the poem Rosemarie shared with the audience the day she was named poet laureate; it deals with the loss of cognitive and physical abilities, and the things we turn to in the wake of those loses.


I’ve forgotten how to spread honey on toast,

how to finagle the medium-sized bowls into the racks.

I haven’t combed my hair in days.

I can’t remember if permanent

means indelible or its opposite.

I’m beginning to understand

the last days of Hemingway.

The porch is covered in yellowing weeds

and dried feathers. I grab an apple

from the bag of pink ladies

and realize there’s mold on the stem,

that everything’s approaching its expiration.  

I tell you not to visit me in the hospital.

In desperation, I ride a dinosaur on the playground.

I dream of roasting marshmallows

around the flame of a gas burner.

In the car, I hold a painting

of a hummingbird on my lap.

I’m wearing a phoenix around my neck

because I want to believe in resurrection.

As the car accelerates,

we talk about the meaning of e=mc2.

We decide that too much knowledge

is sometimes too much,

but we know there’s no going back.

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