On Literary Readings, Crazy Art, & One Really Special Town in Arizona

by Gigi Griffis

So, here’s the thing about Flagstaff, Arizona:

It’s a small mountain town. You run into the same people when you walk downtown. People wave and know each other’s names. Sometimes you stand up from reading and there’s a deer standing just outside your window. There are ski runs and hiking trails and mountain bikers.

And in a place like this, you wouldn’t also expect there to be a surplus of culture. Of musical events and literary readings and art shows.

But you’d be wrong.

This was one of the most pleasant surprises about a stay full of pleasant surprises here.

It was only the first or second week of my stay that my roommate invited me to the Narrow Chimney Reading Series—a poised one-hour literary reading in the back of a billiard hall once a week. Every Monday night, two readers (an MFA student and an established local writer) share their work with a small group of nerdy people like me. The first reading I attended was gorgeous and I’ve gone almost every Monday since, laughing at songwriters’ sarcastic stories about visiting Wal Mart at midnight, feeling delighted by poems about being in love with a pen, and jotting notes about my own inspirations.

From Narrow Chimney, I learned about local storytelling slams and poetry readings and, even more unique and wonderful, a part-art, part-interactive, part-poetry project called the Telepoem Booth. It’s a vintage 70s telephone booth with a crazy twist. Enter, dial a number, and you’ll get to hear a local poet reading one of her or his poems. It’ll be unveiling here in Flagstaff this year and the creator is hoping to institute more of them in places like Chicago.

There are a lot of things I love about Flagstaff and this is one of them. The lovely little merger of wilderness, small town life, and a teeming community of artists, musicians, and writers, writers, writers.

Coming to Arizona? I’m working on an unconventional guidebook. Check it out and sign up to be the first to know when it hits a bookshelf near you.

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Emily March 10, 2016 - 8:01 am

Can’t say enough how happy I am that you’ve had so much fun here!!! :D

lee March 10, 2016 - 9:14 am

exploring small town America is a great adventure and sometimes can be as exciting as visiting a foreign country! You just must GET OUR OF YOUR CAR and treat each location as unique

you have found a very special treat in Flagstaff…………….

Wordy Joy: Two Months in a Writing Group | The Ramble April 12, 2017 - 4:28 am

[…] of the great joys of my four months in Flagstaff this year was that I very quickly found and was embraced by the literary community and found myself attending storytelling events on the weekends and literary readings every Monday […]


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