Saturday, April 30, 2016

"the pull of poems," a class in phoenixville.

in march and april, i taught a class called the pull of poems through the chester county night school at the phoenixville middle school. a small group of just three students, the class and its quaint feel worked very well because of the subject being poetry and how there is just so darn much that can be said about it when reflecting on a certain topic or poem across a few different people and their inquisitive, observer-oriented brains.

the class went so swimmingly that we all decided to continue meeting informally.

we first explored symbolism and the meaning behind all of our first names. some of the other subjects we navigated through poetry were identity-exploring and childhood memories.

we also adventurously made our way through examining interviewing to create poetry content, in addition to cultivating moon poems, river poems, and most recently list poems.

but during the class focusing on moon poems, we were fortunate enough to have a special guest who has a degree in creative writing and is also the vice chairman of the philadelphia unit of the herb society of america, holly cusumano. she is also an incredible encaustic artist, to describe her unique talent lightly. i interviewed her last year for an article about designing moon gardens. she shared a piece of her writing called "lunar landscape," which while written in full sentences, carried a lot of poetic snippets across and throughout its language. 

like the moon she admires so well, cusumano is pictured below, in a white sweater. it's nice to think of the moon wearing a white sweater, perhaps, in the tightly threaded look of its distant yet brightly illumined patches.

and while this poem below is not from the particular class above, but instead, the very first class we had, it's quite relevant to all of this moon-thinking talk, and i'm very grateful that this student didn't mind sharing it.


Kinship DNA
By Sam Traten

I bark at the moon
I am from a family of feral peasants
We love to squabble and spit
at one-another

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

manufacturing history poems from berks county at the i-lead charter school in february.

in february, i visited an i-lead charter school classroom in the city of reading to talk to students about my poetry project on the manufacturing history of berks county. this happened through a wednesday mentoring program where professionals from the community visit to work with students as a way to help expand their knowledge beyond normal curriculum brain-stretchings.

photography credits: marian wolbers

the students had some great questions about industries long ago, and they're so young that most of them never knew about or guessed about the kinds of products which were once made in the area, including candies and lots of chocolate but also many textiles and even bulletproof vests.

and they tested out reading the poems from the first volume within this project, too, as a way to practice the voices of those who helped to make our region's economic and cultural history what it was long ago, which filtered into what it is today, even if that's sometimes hard to see nowadays.

one of these students, darlin, even won a spanish and english translation poetry contest in the past, something he has a very good reason to be proud of within his curiosity with literature, i told him.

another student, maileysha, had a copy of 1999's perks of being a wallfower by stephen chbosky with her in a later class, which i visited where i taught identity-exploring poetry, and she excitedly told me about a poem inside this book. i had been meaning to read this book since high school because my best friend who moved to california adored it and recommended it. maileysha told me that i MUST read it. so i ordered it from within the county library system in the form of a CD so i could listen to it in my car while driving to and fro. i loved the simplicity and complexity of the main character (a kid named charlie) and his observations and speaking. the poem in it really hit home with deep kitchen reminder-filled emotion in understanding all of the teenagers in the book. if you have not read it, no matter what your age is, look for it. it's a good book to absorb.

Monday, April 25, 2016

poetry with jennifer hetrick begins.

welcome to this new blog of poetry with jennifer hetrick. if you swoon for words and line breaks, you might just want to hug the screen here for a moment and come back later to see more of the fun spilling its persuasion out all over this digital place.

scenes and sets of words from teaching poetry in southeastern pennsylvania across age groups of children all the way to seniors will continue to stir a little evolution through language and eye-scooping on the blog as well as the facebook page.

please also feel free to glimpse the poetry project which kickstarted a lot of this independent, community-reaching effort. it's called the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history in berks county and will involve three volumes. the first volume came out in septmber 2015, and copies are still available for purchase.

if you have any curiosity-weaving questions, please feel free to email me:, and if you have some positives to throw around, you are welcome to comment below or on the facebook page. and onward with poem-words.