For the literary scene in Flagstaff, the possibilities seem boundless. With several successful event series such as Flagstaff Poetry Slam, Barley Rhymes, Narrow Chimney Reading Series and Poet’s Den — as well as the resurrection of the Northern Arizona Book Festival and recent NonfictioNOW conference, the buzz has been strong and the growth undeniable.
A group of local poetry enthusiasts hope to build on that further with the SO LIT Poetry Festival, which kicks off its first year with several poetic happening this week. The lineup includes an opening reading Thursday at 6 p.m., the “Night of Mirth” gala Friday at 8 p.m. at Firecreek Coffee Company and the “One Night Stanza Poem Decathlon” Saturday at 8 p.m. at Firecreek.
Each event is a $5 suggested donation that benefits the Flagstaff Literary Center. A $15 “poetic license” provides access to all events. Get the full lineup by checking out the SO LIT Flagstaff Poetry Festival page on Facebook.
“The SO LIT Poetry Festival was conceived of by a few of us as a kind of yearly celebration to complement the Northern Arizona Bookfest in September, to keep momentum around the literary form in Flagstaff strong in the first half of the year,” noted one of the festival organizers, Lydia Paar. “Events are meant to be eclectic, gregarious, all-welcoming, often lightly competitive and specifically designed to engage and humor our participants.”
The events are mostly all-access, save for some age limitations at the two bar venues, Uptown Pubhouse and State Bar. And some of the happenings have participatory elements, though there is always the chance to spectate.
“We have a ‘One-Night-Stanza’ cluster of slam-style mini-events, including a haiku death-match,” Paar noted. “And we have collaborated with local institution events Barley Rhymes and PineStories for our finale day on Sunday.”
Paar and others see the Flagstaff Poetry Festival as another piece of the puzzle of what’s becoming an extensive and active literary scene and community. Organizers would like to see the fest become another annual anchor event, and one that builds off of the crowds and excitement of the weekly and monthly reading events that have cropped up in recent years.
“This town is definitely built on collaboration and we’ve been working with players from all of these events,” Paar said. “In fact, we couldn’t have pulled together anything nearly so rich and fun without each collaborator’s particular set of expertise, formula, and saavy.”
As for some of the names and talent affiliated with the different events, Paar said they’re all local, as opposed to bringing in outside poets.
“On a budget and timeline as tight as ours was here, we thought we could have more fun focusing on building on and celebrating what is already around,” she said. “The Northern Arizona Book Festival does a great job bringing outside talent anyway. Maybe we are the rowdy younger brother to the mature old sister in this aspect, at least for now.”