Wednesday, August 31, 2016

poetry class at the schuylkill river in mont clare, montgomery county.

in mid-august, my traveling poetry class met at the schuylkill river in mont clare, montgomery county. we had a wonderful time, to put it lightly. it turned out to be such a beautiful set of life-minutes for us all that i think we felt like the luckiest people on earth, or close to it. and this goes to show that time spent alongside rivers (and even in them !) is just fully, completely good for the body and all of its insides. wholesome, heart-hugging balance is what happens when you are settling down to enjoy poetry class by your local river.

here are some videos which student sam traten took of moments during and after our lessons as we let ourselves get a little friendly with the water. and incidentally, thin sasquatch-like female instructors sometimes find their way out toward the middles of rivers on slippery patches of rocks.

we're working on a collaborative river poem, which is mid-editing, and i'll share it when it's ready. it will span across three voices.

also, spy a few glimpses of a blue heron below. this winged one hunted and swooped very close to us during class. we were fortunate to have cameras in-hand.

Friday, August 26, 2016

community classes & workshops in 2016: poetry & flash fiction.

please feel free to pass this on to anyone who you believe might be interested in signing up for one of my creative writing workshops or classes. information about offerings is below. links as the course titles will take you to the sign-up pages for each. feel free to reach out with any questions which you may have. onward with language-throwing.


nature poetry night
location: the education center @ nockamixon state park
description: children will have an opportunity to hear and then practice reading sample animal poems out loud, followed by creating their own unique pieces. guest speaker and local poetry guru, jennifer hetrick, will guide the children through the artistic process and show them new ways of seeing the natural world through the art of words. we encourage parents to get involved, too !
when: friday, september 30, 2016 from 6.00 to 7.00 p.m.
cost: free; pre-registration is required

the pull of poems
location: via chester county night school @ owen j. roberts middle school
description: this course will tie together some of the same themes as when it was offered in the spring semester, but it will also introduce a few new topics to test out in poetry. identity-exploring, childhood memories, rivers, letters to poems, lists as poems, exploring colors, the moon, and loss and death will be some focuses potentially weaved into this session, but students are also welcome to voice any other themes which they'd like to study and practice.
when: tuesdays, september 20 through november 1, 2016, 6.00 to 8.00 p.m.
cost: $82

flash fiction (in chester county)
location: via chester county night school @ phoenixville middle school
description: delve into the sub-genre of flash fiction in this new course. flash fiction paints out on the page as an often poetic form of prose and storytelling. sometimes flash fiction is 500 words or less, and it can even be barely a sentence or two. but it carries rich language in its brevity. sherrie flick, an author from pittsburgh, will be the main inspiration for this course, which includes workshopping of flash fiction by students.
when: mondays, september 19 through november 7, 2016, 6.00 to 8.00 p.m.
cost: $99

location: goggleworks in the city of reading
description: kids will have the opportunity to write several of their own poems in the style of dr. seuss and his playful, popping approach with language. a few samples of dr. seuss books will be read as a part of the first hour. this will encourage children to pick out existing words and create their own new ones. these words are intended to involve the especially fun literary device of onomatopoeia. afterward, kids will have newly crafted poems to take home with them, and they can use these as inspirations for future poems to write on their own.
when: saturday, october 8, 2016 from 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m.
cost: $27 for goggleworks members; $30 for non-members

river poems workshop
location: nolde forest state park
description: this three-hour workshop is open to the public but is also eligible for act 48 credits for public school teachers. we will delve into river language and also learn about the creatures which make homes of of local streams.
when: saturday, october 15, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
cost: $15 (to register, call environmental educator rachel baur @ 610.796.3699, or email her at rbaur at pa dot gov) 

location: goggleworks in the city of reading
description: this one-day workshop falls on the day of the full moon in october so that students are well-prepared to study, observe, spend time with, and learn from this night sky-gift afterward. students will use discussions, sample poems, and exercises in class to help them better appreciate time spent with the moon and its influences on us as those who live on earth, and not limited to this exact evening alone but in the future as well.
when: sunday, october 16, 2016 from 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m.
cost: $27 for goggleworks members; $30 for non-members

location: goggleworks in the city of reading
description: children will learn how to count syllables starting with their own names. then we'll discuss the fruit of summer and autumn before reading sample haiku about these sweets from nature. children will test out as many of their own fruit haiku as they can afterward. any children who are older than age 10 but are still interested in this class will be considered, too.
when: saturday, october 22, 2016 from 11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
cost: $27 for goggleworks members; $30 for non-members

location: goggleworks in the city of reading
description: teenagers will learn about exploring their own identity through poetry. sample poems will act as inspiration to help better see what details are unique in all of the students' lives. reminders of early childhood, family background, favorite things in life, and strong memories will be discussed across everyone in the class as a way to develop poetry content.
when: sunday, november 6, 2016 from 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m.
cost: $27 for goggleworks members; $30 for non-members

flash fiction (in berks county)
location: goggleworks in the city of reading
description: explore the lesser known genre of flash fiction. it is a very rich, brief form of fiction much like poetry in its feel. flash fiction is often less than 500 words but is sometimes only a few sentences long. a pittsburgh writer named sherrie flick is the main inspiration for this class, but we'll also examine other contemporary flash fiction. the class will incorporate workshopping original pieces written by all students, too.
when: wednesdays, september 28 through november 16, 2016, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m.
cost: $153 for goggleworks members; $170 for non-members

location: spanning berks, montgomery, and chester counties @ cafes, coffee shops, community parks, and different sections of the schuylkill river
description: suggestions for themes of focus are offered at the end of each class, but students are welcome to write about any subject which they would like to examine through poetry, and they're also welcome to take a break from writing poems for class, instead just offering observations and reflections about others' poetry, whenever preferred. experimenting with other kinds of creative writing besides poetry is also welcome, and we explore the poetic language in it. students may attend regularly or only once in a while, as makes sense for their schedules.
when: generally every other friday from 10.30 a.m to 12.30 p.m., but timing is flexible and set according to what jives well for the schedules of everyone involved.
cost: $20 per class

Monday, August 22, 2016

crow poems.

one of my traveling poetry class students and a also bird haiku writer friend recently wrote crow poems. rich with symbolism, crows and their glossy black wings are often looked at as connections with the magical and whimsically mysterious parts of life. they're also interpreted sometimes as messengers when we lose loved ones.

photograph courtesy of maryann neblock

below are these freshly feather-ready crow poems by maryann neblock and sam traten.


By Maryann Neblock (haiku love, once more)

Shiny black feathers
You “caw” to me while in flight
Heaven’s wings aloft


Eating Crow
By Sam Traten

It's fun to believe this story
from the war of 1812.
The taste of crow was said
to be foul, none would eat it.

A temporary cease fire was
called to celebrate a holiday.
An American soldier crossed
into British-held territory and

shot a crow down. Having
seen this a Redcoat officer
walked up, complimented him
on his marksmanship and asked
to see his sharp-shooting weapon.

Turning his own gun on the
hapless soldier, the duper ordered
the soldier to take a bite of crow.
Returning the man's rifle with a
smug smile, he turned away.

The Yankee said wait, now you
eat crow, and leveled the piece
at the Brit's heart. What's to be
done? The prankster took his bite.

200 years later, behind a truck
that with glancing blow struck
and killed a hapless crow, I
stopped to pick it up

Remembering the story, and
being a skeptic of old war stories,
I skinned the bird, sautéed it
in butter in an iron skillet, dressed
with salt & pepper.

It's not bad. Not Peking duck but
not too bad. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

a haiku & eye-scenes: a farm-to-table dinner evening in the orchards of frecon farms in boyertown, berks county.

frecon farms in the boyertown area of berks county hosted its first-ever farm-to-table dinner tonight up at the top of the hill of their orchards along powder mill hollow road. in addition to incorporating their freshly picked peaches and hard cider into the meal, they sourced artisan cheeses from valley milkhouse in oley as appetizers. head chef gracie skiadas of gracie's 21st century cafe & catering, not too far away in pine forge, led meal preparation for the evening, while head baker of frecon farms, holly haas, offered the final dessert. a peach mousse delighted us, one plate at a time.

how do you spell delicious ? the letters pan out in pictures across the sweeping beauty of a hillside brimming with trees of in-progress apples and people enjoying food and flora in the open air, all before a hint of a thunderstorm on a saturday night.

the frecon family hopes to start hosting monthly dinner events in different sections of the orchards in the future, based on which fruit crops are ready to be joined into seasonal menus.

below is a haiku which i whipped together for the evening, along with plenty of eye-scenes from the festivities. 

saturday night in the orchards
by jennifer hetrick

savoring bites, sips:
dinner amid apple trees,
peaches, hills, and sky