Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Submitted by Hattie Hayes, journalism major, class of 2017

Coming from a small town in Missouri, I arrived in Phoenix thirsty for arts and culture, but more importantly, for a way to be involved in creative ventures.  And I found it, just a few blocks from Taylor Place: Lawn Gnome Publishing.  Nestled in the Roosevelt Row arts district of Downtown Phoenix, Lawn Gnome isn't just a purveyor of books, zines and Bill Murray stickers (all some of my favorite things), but also an outlet for creative expression in any way, shape or form.

Take Thursdays, for example.  Thursday nights are the highlight of my week.  Thursdays are poetry slam nights.  I host the poetry slam, incidentally, and that's an amazing, obscenely fun, insanely lucky opportunity for me, but the reason I like it so much is because I highlight the poets.  The poets, and the words they stitch together and then toss over the audience like a quilt made from pieces of their thoughts and their souls, are what make the poetry slam really incredible.  I see myself as very fortunate not only to watch these men and women perform, but also to encourage my friends to come be their audience, to gloss over lulls during score-tallying to keep up the high enthusiasm these performers deserve, and to be an advocate for artistic expression in general.  It's definitely more than I'd expected, moving here.

My involvement with Lawn Gnome came (almost accidentally) from mid-slam banter with Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, proprietor of Lawn Gnome Publishing and previous slam host.  Aaron had mentioned, during the very first slam I'd attended, that he was looking for a host, and I knew in my head that I wanted to be it.  I have nowhere near the amount of guts necessary to spill my poetic soul out onstage, so hosting seemed like the best non-slamming way to get involved.  And after a little bit of in-between-act banter with Aaron, him joking with the audience and me quipping right back, he said, "Hey, you should host!"

And I said, "Yes!  Please!  I'd planned on it!"

I think this, this real community involvement, is a direct side effect of being a Barrett student.  If I hadn't gone to Lawn Gnome on Barrett's Big Urban Bus Tour, if I hadn't seen posts about the venue and its events on the B-Town D-Town Facebook group and heard people talk about it--heck, if I hadn't had a group of equally-eager Barrett students to walk the few blocks to Lawn Gnome with me, I wonder: would I be sitting here, writing about Lawn Gnome, wondering what poems I'll hear this week, and planning my jokes and bits for this Thursday?

That question was mostly rhetorical, but I can guarantee you that if it weren't for Barrett Downtown and its focus on community involvement, I'd probably be spending my Thursday nights killing time in the 8th floor lounge instead of being an active member in my community.  As a new student in a new school in a new state, it's easy to want to get involved.  As a new student in Barrett, it's easy to see how you can get involved.  Choosing to be involved in my community, and Lawn Gnome specifically, may be the best decision I've made in college.

So far.

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