Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise Mckenzie.
Denise, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I came to LA, I had no idea where to get my poetry fix. I was brand new. I looked online for different open mics and organizations, but I was having a hard time finding something that was similar to my experiences in Chicago and NYC. I went to some events here and there but didn’t really find what I was looking for. I wanted to be apart of a community. I wanted to be involved with a group of people with similar aspirations, chasing similar dreams. I had hoped to find a place that would help me grow and vice versa.
Funny enough, a local artist friend of mine one day asked if I was going to the poetry night at our local watering-hole, Gravlax. What? What poetry night!? I had no idea! So I went to the first one I was able to attend. It was Philosopher’s Stone Poetry’s first book release party, I think in January of 2016. I bought a book and met Sergio and Chase. I thought to myself, could this be it? Could this be my poetry retreat every month? A chance for me to put myself out there and really get this writing career going? Why, yes. Yes, it could be.
Fast forwarding a bit, after I having been featured in the 2nd book published by pspoets, Chase and Sergio asked me to join the company. I jumped at the opportunity. That was over two years ago. Since then, I have helped release our 3rd compilation (which I helped edit), and have published a couple of other books. I have helped coordinate numerous community projects and events across LA. We have come a long way together, and who knows what will happen next. I am excited to see where we go, and I am so grateful to have such a supportive poetic center.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We have faced some challenges. The group began originally as a non-profit organization with the idea that it would be a community nurturing budding writers and poets. After struggling to officiate our status as a non-profit, we realized without the “profit” part, we also could not grow adequately. We decided to move our business in a different direction by establishing ourselves as an LLC, and to focus more on publishing, creating useful content for our website, and of course, hosting more diversified events. We started making these changes last summer, and things have been going very well.
Please tell us about pspoets.
Our founders, Chase Maser, and Sergio Cacciotti met while taking Mario Padilla’s creative writing class. They met Amanda Ortiz a year later and she’s been with us ever since as our amazing web designer. What started as a college club grew into poetry readings and book publishing.
Now we are a multi-faceted community that offers creative outlets and opportunities for up-and-coming poets and writers, as well as musicians. We have recently added Arlene Mateo to our team as a content creator. Primarily we are focused on growing in the Los Angeles area. But thanks to the wonderful world of social media, we have people contributing and participating from across the globe.
My official title is “Content Manager”, but I do a little bit of everything- graphic design, editing, content creation, social media planning, and event coordinating. I am a Jack of all trades, with a focus on content and being generally awesome (ha!).
Out of all the amazing poetry societies, clubs, and organizations that are out there, I have not found one that is quite like ours. I am grateful for our unique ability to remain diverse, humble, and open to new ideas and opportunities.
I think I am most proud of what we offer to brand new poets, especially the ones who have never performed in front of an audience before. I know that I was absolutely terrified the first time I shared my poetry in public back in Chicago. I had written for years, but I would barely read aloud my poems to close friends. Stage fright, much? Always! I was nervous the first time performing with pspoets but was welcomed with open arms. And we continue this tradition of encouragement, support, and positivity.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I can’t really say anything, aside from maybe diversifying our venues sooner than we did. But we are starting to do that now.
- Event Admission $5-10
- Books $15-20
- Typewriters $60-$200
- Other Retail Products (Coming soon!) $10-100
- Website: pspoets.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: pspoets
- Facebook: pspoets
- Twitter: pspoetsLA
- Other: pspoets (pinterest)
Sergio Cacciotti, Chase Maser, Denise Mckenzie