Monday, April 24, 2017

firefly bookstore's author pavilion at kutztown's annual block party.

yesterday, an annual block party in kutztown kept the streets in a good blur of people appreciating bubbles blowing in the air, free haircuts for kids, cotton candy, and plenty more. my favorite part involved a fellow playing johnny cash songs, and he even dressed the part. i am not positive but suspect from some light googling that a man named terry lee goffee may be this performer.

firefly bookstore, which recently relocated to a bigger shop (and it's gorgeously done, to boot) had a local authors' table with several rounds of us there throughout the afternoon. and they took care of us authors so well. we're lucky to have them in berks county.

i also left out and gave away copies of the key's spring 2017 issue, too, to let people know about the community poetry one picture at a time feature which i do, in hopes that we may have a few takers for the opportunity of the next prompt.

a poetry reading at berks history center during april: national poetry month.

berks history center hosted a poetry reading for this project in april as national poetry month. ed jastrzembski tested out his second round of being a special guest now since 2016 in sharing his memories about working at reading [truck] bodies and cartech before retiring. his wife, joan, also joined him again, since his jobs were such a big part of their family life's impacts.

my former french teacher from junior high joined the audience, and one particular point which she made served well to be said: that she once had a teachers' meeting maybe 10 or 20 years ago, where someone said most of our students as adults are going to have maybe 7 or so jobs in their lifetime, across different careers. and that's very different compared to some decades in our culture where people stayed in a single job for long stretches of time, and this was the case for ed, too. yet i realized i hadn't thought about that point in a while, and i've had more than 7 kinds of jobs, but some overlap. it says a lot about the need to be adaptable in surviving the economic landscape of life today.

and thank to alexis campbell of berks history center's staff for helping with the eye-scenes below.

a poetry reading at reading area community college during april: national poetry month.

in early april, i juggled conversations about the old world of berks county and our newer one with students at reading area community college. in a small group, we talked about the differences sometimes seen between those who were young and working decades ago and what they're like today with their personalities, values, and story-sharing, and then the difference of how young people live and labor today but also what they're like interacting with the people around them. it took on the shape of blending good and bad, much like light and dark in life's conversations. and it felt refreshing to notice students being aware of paying attention to the ways of people around them in our world today. communication and how we get along together is so much a part of how this or that pans out. taking the time to understand each other is everything.

zoe hudzik, who assisted with photography for this reading, so she isn't in the eye-scenes, unfortunately, shared how she loves hearing her grandparents' stories as well as just the way they put their thoughts out into the open, and she also feels similarly about seniors she worked with in the past at the highlands. her grandmother also used to work at narrow fabric in west reading, so there's a bit of hope that this woman in her 80s might be willing to be a poem-source for the third and final book in this project. we'll see.

and then we had a semi-official pizza-eating contest, which i won, totaling 5 slices devoured, with some crusts avoided only to eat more slices. a few of us remained for this savvy event.

Monday, February 13, 2017

shirley kohl's poem & story-stirring at the muhlenberg community library.

last monday, shirley kohl of muhlenberg township, born in 1930, kindly made herself available to be the special guest for a poetry reading in her own town's library, through this project. for her age, she's a very busy woman, volunteering at her church to prepare meals for those in need, and she also sometimes runs an exercise class for seniors, on top of now taking care of a fish which her grandson gave her as a recent gift. i'm sure she does a lot more than this, but these are samplings of just some of what she does, which initially meant it took a while to schedule a reading because her schedule is so full. but she admits that she knows that is good for someone her age.

tara ring, the senior library assistant and public relations coordinator helped to coordinate this reading featuring shirley at the muhlenberg community library. and heather moore who handles adult programming at the library assisted with photography, so all eye-scenes below are by her.

with a smaller audience at this poetry reading, plenty of thoughtful questions were aimed toward shirley, including ones like was it warm enough in the mills and factories in winter with the heating offered for workers; if she was a part of a union, what was like that, and how did it pan out later; what hours did she work when she had jobs, in consideration of how much time she spent with her kids as a young mother; and even a robbery of supplies came up as a discussion point to one inquiry or another.

below are heather moore's photographs of the poetry reading, followed by a long excerpt from shirley's poem in volume two from this project.


just for a few months between herbert’s welding jobs, i took
a gig at diener’s underwear mill in leesport. white gloves to fit
women’s hands were something i made at another place too
long ago and briefly for my fingertips to remember where. we
moved to tioga county to care for a herd of jersey cows, but
after that farmer’s wife died, things fell apart. we came back
home. before we left berks county, i’d worked at temple

apparel, inc. at first, herbert and i rented an apartment near
route 625, so sadie remp gave me a ride to our daylight hours
of constructing blouses in 1965. i did anything, everything.
but most of the time, i set sleeves, the collars already in place.
prepping the middles down, button holers and button setters
did their part with the front openings of the finished fabric,
which might have been pre-cut upon arrival. once we bought

our house, i could walk to work, 7/10 of a mile. on tuesdays
after our shift, sadie and i hit the smooth spill of highways
to explore the eatery scenes. at some restaurant on lancaster
avenue, one waitress would see us pull in, set down our drinks
on the table before we stepped foot in the front door—coffee
for sadie, a coke or pepsi for me. our blouse-making ended
by 1986. in not long, i had a job at t.g. faust, inc. in reading,

sewing together the kevlar-thick maps of bulletproof vests
for police officers, their trained dogs, the military. we worked
out of a barn where the horses for the city’s trolley were kept
in departed days; some of the names of the horses still stayed
in paint up on the walls there for a while—dick and sue were

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

a poetry reading at muhlenberg community library-- monday, february 6 @ 4 p.m.

shirley kohl will be the featured guest of a poetry reading in her township's own library on monday, february 6 @ 4 p.m. her textile mill and bulletproof vest factory days will be a part of the late afternoon event.

this poetry reading is kindly being hosted by the muhlenberg community library, which is located at 3612 kutztown road, laureldale, pa 19605.

anyone who can attend can RSVP to the library at 610.929.0589.

shirley is also on the cover of volume two of this poetry project, the left bottom corner.

Monday, January 2, 2017

a poetry reading at tel hai retirement community in honey brook, chester county, in late december.

during the last friday afternoon in december, i visited tel hai retirement community in honey brook, chester county, and and hosted a poetry reading for this project with a good handful of particularly smile-constant faces in the audience. and they were lovely to glimpse each time i'd finish reading a poem or sharing a detail about the people and the poetic usage in the lines.

many thanks go to barbara colacioppo and nancy salzman who assited with photography for the day.

i handed out copies of betty kunkel's poem for residents to read along with in large print font, and barbara also helped by making extra copies to ensure that there were enough for everyone. talk of the reminders of farm life ways, from the poem, are always a good point of nostalgia for audiences. 

manufacturing and literally making a shoe or a shirt are often tied to seniors, whether directly or through family, neighbors, or friends. and audiences like these certainly know how to appreciate conversational storytelling of old times, when they were the young ones running the world through their plentiful numbers across this region and the nation.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

a poetry reading at the wyomissing public library in december, featuring esther rolland & dick villforth.

the wyomissing public library hosted a poetry reading for the second year of this project in mid-december. two residents of country meadows, esther rolland and dick villforth, visited as special guests, as they live about 3 miles away from this particular library.

and like a poetry reading at their place of residence in november, we honored jim dalrymple who died in september at the age of 100 and was one of their neighbors in the same building.

esther liked that the afternoon meant visiting another library in her life, especially since it is hard for her to walk nowadays, so she sees less out in the world.

after dick no longer worked in berkshire knitting mills, he ended up going back to school for engineering and later worked in south korea in nuclear power plant settings. he lived and worked in a few other foreign countries, too, and even took his family to japan for a short time.

colleen stamm and jonathan moore who work at the library generously offered assistance with photography during the reading.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

poetry reading at the wyomissing public library-- monday, december 12 @ 1 p.m.

the next poetry reading for this project is scheduled for monday, december 12 @ 1 p.m. @ the wyomissing public library.

featured special guests dick villforth, kathryn beck, and esther rolland while honoring the late jim dalrymple.


RSVP to if you can attend.

or pass the proverbial word on to anyone else who may be interested in attending.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

a poetry reading at the berks encore senior center in wernersville in late november.

at the end of november, the berks encore senior center in wernersville hosted a poetry reading for this project. willie kramer from the first volume of poetry in 2015 visited as a featured guest, which he kindly did a number of times last year as well.

and like he's done before, he brought a lot of samples of different kinds of leather for different purposes, in addition to tools and upkeep supplies for them, from when he worked at garden state tanning in fleetwood for many decades in his life.

willie and his wife gerry are also members of berks community strollers, the wanderers of berks county, and the berks community hiking club. this is how i met them a few years ago, and while out on a trail, willie first told me about his tannery career.

during this particular reading, we ended up getting into conversations about other kinds of jobs which seniors in attendance had. one man used to drive tractor trailers up and down the east coast, sometimes to miami, and carried produce. he had a lot of stories about how people don't realize the difficulty in accurately and safely driving big rigs. he also had a horror movie-like recollection of a woman chasing a man behind a restaurant in the south with a butcher knife, when he stepped out of his truck and was looking for a place to get a meal. it unfortunately had to do with racism and segregation, at the time.

another man mentioned that he worked in the kitchen at the wernersville state hospital, which is the campus of where this senior center is located. and a man who lived in maryland for a long time worked behind the scenes in the newspaper industry in running the actual presses.

nancy speicher courteously offered assistance with most of the photography for the morning.