Starry, starry night (copy)

Clouds form a halo over the Peaks under a starry sky, courtesy of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition.

The night sky, our window to the universe, has been a source of inspiration for writers, musicians and artists of all backgrounds. Where social and political lines divide, the night sky unites us in awe.

“When the great earth, abandoning day, rolls up the deeps of the heavens and the universe, a new door opens for the human spirit, and there are few so clownish that some awareness of the mystery of being does not touch them as they gaze,” naturalist writer Henry Beston wrote in his 1928 novel, “The Outermost House.”

Flagstaff Dark Sky Coalition, an organization that aided in the designation of Flagstaff as the world’s first “International Dark Sky City,” has put out a call for submissions for its 2019 Celebration of the Night. The coalition is asking writers and poets to submit original prose and poetry to its new literary component, “Writers of the Night Skies.” The organization said in a press release, “Any theme relating positive human connection or inspiration arising from starry skies and the universe are welcome, though preference will be granted to submissions which are local specific (Flagstaff and northern Arizona).”

The chosen writers will be invited to read their submission at the performance event May 25 at the Coconino Center for the Arts.

Ky J. Dio, who co-hosts Juniper House Readings at Uptown Pubhouse, said the event will be similar to the weekly literary reading series in which writers read and perform new written works. Though this time there’s a theme.

“One of the main focuses is on celebrating the night. Sometimes, as a culture and in this society, we’re sort of made to be afraid of night. This is the other end of spectrum, celebrating our connection of night sky,” Dio said. “We’re really asking, ‘How does it bring you joy?’”

Dio is one of the juries of the submissions, along with Paul Bogard, associate professor of English at James Madison Univesity; Katie King, local writer, poet and Flagstaff Live! columnist; and Lance Diskan, author and founding member of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition. Dio said, for her, one of the reasons she moved to Flagstaff was because of an appreciation of its undisturbed night sky.

“I moved to Flagstaff partly because I loved how beautiful it was here,” she said. “I loved how on some nights you could go out and see the Milky Way, you can see all these beautiful things. It wasn’t like a bigger city where you wouldn’t be able to. Flagstaff is more environmentally conscious and more beautiful in that way.”

Submissions are due by March 31.

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