Friday, June 30, 2017

traveling poetry classes in july 2017 at a labyrinth in collegeville & the schuylkill river in mont claire.

for july, we'll be going to our first labyrinth, which i'm pretty darn excited about because they've been a major curiosity point for me for years, since i wrote a few articles on local ones. but the one we're visiting is not one i've written about before in regional newspapers. to explain more about them here, i've pasted an excerpt from my 2013 article about a labyrinth in leesport at the bottom of this blog post.

and we'll be heading back to the schuylkill river at the end of july, to lock 60 in mont clare, since we didn't get to go there in june but enjoyed a douglassville section by the water instead. it has more room for exploring and seeing, which is a nice part about mont clare's stretch along the river.

next classes–

when: sunday, july 16 @ 1 p.m. & sunday, july 30 @ 1 p.m.

where: for july 16, the labyrinth–the address of its location is ursinus college at 601 east main street, collegeville, pa 19426, but you will want to turn onto east 9th avenue next to the college, then turning right into the west parking lot. the labyrinth is right around the bend in the early part of the driveway of the parking lot. follow the lot left to park first; for july 30, lock 60 is located at 400 tow path road, mont clare, pa 19453, and this road is just across from produce junction outside of phoenixville off of bridge street–follow the driveway all the way back until there is no where else to go

optional themes of focus:

  • sunday, july 16– labyrinth poems
  • sunday, july 30– river poems at lock 60

if we have oddly inconvenient weather before or during set classes, i will update those who RSVPed to classes in advance to let them know if we are canceling or rescheduling.  

cost: $20 per student, per class (we usually meet for 2 hours or more)

if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at poetrywithjenniferhetrick at yahoo dot com. 

and if you know anyone who may be interested in our class, feel free to share this blog content onward.

also, if there is anyone who may want to join our class but lives in another area across berks, chester, and montgomery counties, we sometimes travel to a good variety of different places, so let us know, and we can see about planning classes closer to you.


a labyrinth is sometimes confused with a maze, which can be a stressful challenge for the brain; instead, a labyrinth is a set of paths usually in a circle, geared toward helping people find footfalls that relax and bring them to a more pensive yet peaceful place.

“it’s not a maze where the intention is to get you lost,” said dave bushnell, pastor of epler’s church of christ in leesport. “it leads you to a center point for meditation.”

and it doesn’t necessarily have to be precise meditation; those who venture to labyrinths can sit and have their own quiet and use the opportunity for time away in whatever way they need.

“you walk out the way you came in, but in reverse,” bushnell said. “it’s great to see children in it. and some people walk straight to the middle because they can’t walk the full length.”

bushnell noted that he’s seen regional nurses taking slow walks through the labyrinth as they are thinking caringly about their patients who can’t easily visit the reflective resource of a spot on their own.

and there is no right or wrong way to walk through a labyrinth. some will move at faster paces, but slower ones are usually helpful for the busier minds of so many today who never get much of a chance to slow down because of so much on their proverbial plates in life.

“as you follow the path to the center, you let go of things as you walk, and you’re leaving the world and entering a space,” he said.

this sense of letting go is a lot of why people who visit the labyrinth from across the berks county community find so much relief while inching their way to the benches at the center.

“it’s pretty countercultural to walk around in a circle,” bushnell pointed out about how this endeavor is out of the norm but a benefit to the heart and mind.

labyrinths are incredibly historical, too. they can be traced to more than 4,000 years ago; the most ancient one officially on record is a cretan classical seven-circuit labyrinth from more than 3,500 years ago.

a good number of the labyrinths that are searchable across the globe on (where labyrinths can be discovered by zip code) are modeled after this ancient labyrinth.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

farm-food café poetry in my traveling poetry class this june.

earlier in june, my traveling poetry class ventured to kutztown to check out the newly opened HIVE, a café supported meal ingredient-wise by local farmers and food producers, including from the land of the eatery's owners. finding farm-supported café poems for some of our inspiration, besides the scenery around us, was not easy. so we read a café poem and then a farm poem. and then we worked on making our own new, combined versions.

here are some eye-scenes from the visit, followed by a student's poem.

[Closed Caption Café]
By Sam Traten

[Bottle knocked off table, crashing sound --chatter nearby]
Overheard from an adjacent group, “She never liked me, said I was too forward.

“I’m friendly with everybody. Like, what’s she mean? Her
Boyfriend? So I changed my roommate to Alexa.” [Loudly]

[Café radio blares alternative music]
Our group strains to hear our spoken poems

read aloud in hushed tones, with as much expression
as conditions allow. Some words lost or misheard.

Confusion. [Outside a delivery van revs up]
But, look, our well-made lunch dishes arrive

and are expertly placed on the tall table.
Delicious! Small annoyances are swept away.

A new patron arrives and sits closely nearby.
(All tables are nearby)

Alone, she closely focuses on her laptop,
Perhaps working on a college class paper.

Pretends, or genuinely through concentration,
not to hear our offer of sauces from our table.

[More undecipherable chatter]
Were it not for the general exclamations of

“What?” “Would you repeat that?” “I’m sorry”
I would have felt my age has now moved me on to hearing impaired.

[Cash register rings. Chairs shuffle, footsteps to door, door opens, shuts]
Today’s horoscope reads: You don't expect people to be what they are not. Everyone is quirky. You

realize this and act accordingly.
[Cafes can be quirky, too. No matter]

haiku & photography—fried pickles haiku at dan’s deli via the visit boyertown site.

this is cross-posted to the visit boyertown site.


haiku & photography—fried pickles haiku at dan’s deli
by jennifer hetrick

haiku is a japanese form of poem which has three lines. the first and third lines use five syllables across their language-throwing, while the second line uses seven syllables in total.

haiku are often about the natural world and reflective feelings. and they are typically very imagery-driven. i find haiku to be a great way to promote not only poetry (which i teach) but also the good going on around us locally. so i pair haiku with photography and a little background information on businesses and community events as a route to bringing out the best in the life-minutes we share in boyertown and beyond.

i am thrilled to introduce the fried pickles of the longstanding dan’s deli at 1371 west philadelphia avenue as a first feature of haiku & photography. i hunt for fried pickles on any menu i see, and the ones at this family-owned and run restaurant are my go-to choice. i sometimes even call in an order for them by phone right before the deli closes so i can get this nom nom nommm-ish appetizer literally before it is too darn late. it helps that they serve a spicy ranch for dipping. i am a rare type who is wary of ranch dressing, but anytime hot sauce is involved, like with this sauce, i’m in. very much so innnn.

fried pickles haiku

fried pickles meet tongues
with a sour-bite persuasion:
crave-worthy, delish

Saturday, June 17, 2017

rescheduling the location of my sunday, june 25 traveling poetry class to a douglassville section of the schuylkill river.

due to canal day happening in mont clare on the same day when we planned to do river poems there in my traveling poetry class on sunday, june 25 at 1 p.m., i've relocated our meeting spot to ganshahawny park in douglassville. this is right along the schuylkill river.

ganshahawny park does not have its own address, but the closest address nearby, on the opposite side of the road, is 334 old philadelphia pike, douglassville, pa 19518. coming from the newly redone river bridge road, you'd see the big concrete overpass of highway above, just after the park entrance on the right. and here is some photography of how to find the park.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

un•whole•y•ness-- a poem by maryann neblock-- about living with crohn's disease daily.

i have been very much been looking forward to sharing this poem. it is by my good friend maryann neblock who lives in chester county, pennsylvania. she's been dealing with a severe form of crohn's disease for years, and i've learned a lot about life through her experiences.

i always want things to be better for her, for more to be discovered which will help her in ways maybe nobody in the medical field necessarily expected based on current research and knowledge. i want her to have a better quality of life, which she deserves, especially for how much she puts her heart out there for others in this world. 

as much as i get upset about her circumstances, she incidentally teaches me to be a little less typically american and instead more grateful for how my life and health are, even though i am usually wrapped up in my own stress and worry. it gives some bigger picture perspective to see and know even just some of what maryann experiences.

in the past year or two, i've been encouraging maryann to dive into poetry to work through the beautiful and the difficult in life. in a matter of months, she became the bird haiku writer of my days, stirred from her affinity for watching winged ones through the windows of her home and making sure they always have enough to nibble on in her yard.

here is an eye-scene of a tank top which maryann gave to me from her husband don's bicycling efforts in raising funds to help the crohn's and colitis foundation of american. i love this tank top oddly more than i like most clothing and have worn it quite a bit lately.

and here is maryann's poem which has been continually shared, and sometimes even requested for more sharing, across the communities of medical professionals and patients who know these unique digestive and life difficulties best. 

in early june, she heard the news that the oley foundation based in albany, new york, is featuring this poem in its july & august or september & october issue of what is called the lifeline letter newsletter. it is sent out to 15,000 recipients. i love that its value in helping others know they are not alone keeps growing across different sets of people.


By MaryAnn Neblock

I lie awake in bed at night
Hoping to fall asleep
To be whole
The soft whir of the pump
ka-chunk    ka-chunk
Moving liquid nutrients into my heart
And eventually into what’s left of my gut

How did I become this creature?
This artificial being in body
While still real and whole in mind and soul

How can the body fail so as to betray
the spirit that drives me?
And how do I go on from here
To fulfill my purpose with such distraction?

Tomorrow is another day
To push through the daily rituals
Until the whir of the pump once again
Lulls me to sleep..and I become whole


from what i have learned, feeling understood and knowing you are not alone is everything in life, sometimes, and this certainly fits probably at a very deep body and heart-level for those who know maryann's same struggles.

she recently received a letter about this poem making rounds across different sets of eyes within her medical community connections through penn medicine. it expresses gratitude for her poem's impact. here is a copy of the letter.

and here is a photograph of maryann and don in arizona during crohn's & colitis awareness week. it spanned from december 1 through 7, 2016, last year. the paper maryann is holding shows how many years she's been working through this condition in everyday life. because of her health situation, traveling is absolutely no simple or easy feat for maryann, so it'd be easy to take for granted a trip like this for anyone who doesn't know a life like hers and those who have similar medical and bodily circumstances.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

river haiku by arline christ.

in may, with weather finally warming up more kindly, at least by a pinch or two in terms of degree-thinking, my traveling poetry class ventured to the schuylkill river for the first time in 2017. and we were very ecstatic to be there, especially given how we were stuck inside all winter.

we enjoyed our beloved hideaway spot, the usual, in pottstown near the west campus of montgomery county community college.

arline christ, who over the past decade has painted several animals on the carousel at pottstown which debuted this winter, stringed some river haiku, which i'm letting extend across the page a bit broadly here so they can be best appreciated in extended form, joining together, although written separately, and moving like water downstream.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

traveling poetry classes in june 2017 @ hive cafe in kutztown & the schuylkill river in mont claire.

for june, we'll be venturing up north to kutztown to visit the newly opened HIVE (cafe), which is supplied with healthy eats of all kinds, including plenty of ingredients from local farms. and we'll be returning to the schuylkill river but in the *mont clare section in montgomery county very close to phoenixville, chester county.

next classes

when: sunday, june 11 @ 1 p.m. & sunday, june 25 @ 1 p.m.

where: 236 west sacony alley, kutztown, pa 19530 for june 11; *recently relocated to ganshahawny park in douglassville due to mont clare celebrating a likely very busy and canal day when we scheduled our class there; the closest address is 334 old philadelphia pike, douglassville, pa 19518, on the opposite side of the road (see this post for more info and pictures of nearby scenery to find the parking lot easily)

optional themes of focus:

  • sunday, june 11  cafe & local farm food poems
  • sunday, june 25 river poems

since HIVE has limited seating, the owners are asking for definite RSVPs so they can be sure to have a dedicated area for us. so definitely let me know if you can attend.

if we have oddly inconvenient weather before or during set classes, i will update those who RSVPed to classes in advance to let them know if we are canceling or rescheduling.  

cost: $20 per student, per class (we usually meet for 2 hours or more)

if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at poetrywithjenniferhetrick at yahoo dot com. 

and if you know anyone who may be interested in our class, feel free to share this blog content onward.

also, if there is anyone who may want to join our class but lives in another area across berks, chester, and montgomery counties, we sometimes travel to a good variety of different places, so let us know, and we can see about planning classes closer to you.

eye-scene above: courtesy of robyn jasko of HIVE