RISE! poetry and arts event aims to celebrate and showcase Phoenix’s diverse artists

Poet Joel Salcido performs at the first RISE! event last year. (Courtesy of Deborah Berman-Montaño)
Poet Joel Salcido performs at the first RISE! event last year. (Courtesy of Deborah Berman-Montaño)
Poet Joel Salcido performs at the first RISE! event last year. (Courtesy of Deborah Berman-Montaño)

The second annual RISE! Rediscovering the City through Intercultural Poetry and the Arts will celebrate diversity and Phoenix’s culture this Friday, Dec. 4.

The name RISE! aims to represent the ideals behind the event, said RISE! co-host, Deborah Berman-Montaño.

“RISE! is meant to encapsulate in a small, short space, a feeling of pride, a feeling of reaching, of progressing, of standing for something you believe in,” she said.

The first RISE! event, held in May 2014, was a night celebrating Hispanic poetry and art. Several performers from the first event went on to form a poetry workshop with other friends. This workshop became the organizing committee for the second annual RISE! poetry event.

For this year they decided to expand beyond the barriers of Hispanic artists to include other marginalized groups. A committee selected all the artists unanimously after a review of their work. The goal was to have a variety of extremely talented artists from many cultures.

Poet and committee member Rashaad Thomas stressed the importance of having an event that supported both Phoenix culture and the city’s diverse residents.

“It was important to be who we are without having to dilute our work or conform our work to a certain space according to where we were. We needed a space that embraced us,” Thomas said.

The artists will include Mexican-American poets Susanna Velarde Covarrubias, Joe Montaño III, Joel Salcido, and Marco Piña; Navajo poet Bojan Louis; African-American poets Rashaad Thomas and Tamika Lamb; Puerto Rican-American poet, writer, and LGBT activist Yovani Flores; Afro-Latina poet and spoken word performer Melissa Dunmore; and West African poet JC Koffy.

There will also be dance and musical performances from East Indian dancer Raji Ganesan and DJ Filiangel Morales. Edgar Fernandez will also do a live painting.

The array of cultures is meant to be representative of Phoenix.

“We’re trying to represent this area and give it a spin we don’t see a lot,” said poet and organizer Joel Salcido. “There’s not a lot of space of us as writers of color to express ourselves, platforms to talk about things that are more controversial.”

The poets’ works will all be personal and representative of their lives.

“They come from the human experience. They come from stories that we’re not hearing, getting, or listening to on the scale that we should,” Berman-Montaño explained. “There’s nothing but a positive component to this.”

Salcido is excited to not only share his views of the city, but also to hear from performers he does not know.

“Every poet is very, very different, different styles, different interpretations and different cultures,” Salcido said. “We think that spread of styles is something the audience will enjoy and that Phoenix needs.”

The event will be at the Great Arizona Puppet Theatre, on 302 W. Latham St, from 7-10 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and includes entry into a raffle that features paintings from local artists and items from local businesses.

Tickets can be purchased from brownpapertickets.com or with cash at the entrance. A portion of proceeds will go to Phoenix College‘s Adopt-A-Family Program.

Correction: Dec. 4, 2015

An editing error incorrectly labeled the Adopt-A-Family program the Rise! event supports as belonging to Salvation Army. It is at Phoenix College.

Contact the reporter at Kara.Carlson@asu.edu