Poetry Thursdays

Open mic and featured performers:
Internet Cafe
at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore,
1302 North Third Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Phone: 717.236.1680

The Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel hosts
this community reading series,
every Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
Open to all who'd like to share
or listen to the many varieties
of spoken word


Spring is here in Harrisburg. Spread your petals and bloom.
Come flower your soul with some stomping stanzas at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore!
Our reading is FREE and open to the public
Bring yourself and a friend, or two, or three.

      THIS WEEK:
          April 17:

        7-9 PM -- Open Mic with Host Christian Thiede

This poetry event is hosted by the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel.

You can be part of an exciting time in literary history. 
Enjoy the verse with verve.
Spark your inner-kindling and share
by lighting it up on stage,
metaphorically speaking, that is.
Read your favorite poets,
or your own poetry and prose
Oh, mouth-watering tasty words,
how I love to eat thee!

Here's some background on upcoming features:

Keith Snow, featured April 24. 

Keith Snow has been writing and performing for 15 years. He has curated and hosted a poetry venue, was the poetry editor of online and print magazine Megaera, and currently leading the Living Writers group for his church, Living Water. He has been published in Shirazad, Fledgling Rag, and Experimental Forest to name a few. Snow says the world makes the most sense when he is on Stage. He is happy to lend his energy to the Cartel’s reading where he first read 15 years ago.

Femi the DriFish, featured May 1. 

Femi the DriFish is a British Born, Nigerian Native, Baltimore city resident, one half of the spoken word, duo THE 5th L, front man for the band called, The Out of Water eXperience, and has the best smile in the business. Femi has been a page to stage performer using his poetry meets hip-hop meets theater meets music orgy fusion, for over 10 years professionally, and giving birth to 7 full albums in various incarnations. Well known for witty wordplay, creative concepts, intense & animated performances and introspective content, The DriFish is always ready to take the stage to unleash dark matter from his mind. You can find him online at: www.AnArtKeyMusic.com

Le Hinton, featured May 15. 

Le Hinton is the author of five poetry collections including The God of Our Dreams (Iris G. Press, 2010) and The Language of Moisture and Light (Iris G. Press, 2014). His work has been published in Thethe, Gargoyle, Little Patuxent Review, Off the Coast, Unshod Quills, and Watershed. His poem, "No Doubt About It (I Gotta Get Another Hat)," will appear in The Best American Poetry 2014 later this year. His poem “Epidemic” was the winner of the Baltimore Review’s 2013 Winter Issue contest and in 2014 was selected by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's Public Poetry Project as one of four poems by Pennsylvania-connected poets that were made into posters and disseminated throughout the commonwealth. In 2012 his poem, “Our Ballpark,” was incorporated into Derek Parker’s sculpture Common Thread and permanently installed at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as part of the Poetry Paths project.

Michael Lear-Olimpi, featured May 22. 

Michael Lear-Olimpi credits e.e. cummings with teaching him (unfortunately, not in person) to love a precision of language that causes motion.

He seeks that effect in his prose and poetry.

A yeoman journalist who plied the trade through four decades, Lear-Olimpi’s written work has been widely published.

Though he has performed his poetry in myriad venues, he has no book of verse to sell.

Performance poetry,” he says. “I’ve been published enough.”

A member of The Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, Lear-Olimpi, with fellow poet Maurice Esworthy, was instrumental in reviving live spoken-word performance art in Central Pennsylvania through work at Harrisburg’s Paul Robeson Center for the Arts and the Doshi Gallery in the early 1980s.

“For you local history buffs: The name The Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel comes from us reading at the old Robeson Center, which was at Third and Union, just above Forster Street – almost uptown. We thought of ourselves as underground poets , under the radar, anyway, so I thought the word cartel in the name was cool when I came up with the title – in the first version of the group, in 1983.”

Lear-Olimpi’s poetry has been well honored, including being nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His journalism – writing and editing – has won citations from the Jesse H. Neal Awards for business journalism and from other organizations.

He is professor of communications at Central Penn College, where he is chair of the communications program.

Craig Czury, co-featured TBA. 

Craig Czury, 2008 graduate of Wilkes University’s MFA program, has lived in Berks County since 1991, creating poetry, poetry performances and multi-cultural poetry events in schools, community centers, juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, and mental hospitals. Currently, he is a part-time lecturer at Albright College, teaches Memoir & Poetry and Life-Writing & Healing workshops at community arts centers. He is a former Berks County’s Poet Laureate. Author of 20 books of poetry, many of which have been translated into several languages, Czury recently earned his M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, where he was awarded the Norris Church Mailer Fellowship. His most recent book is KITCHEN OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

While living as a poet and folklorist in old hotels throughout his home anthracite coal region, Czury developed a poetry that was “hard and dark like anthracite, masculine as rock drills and blasting caps, foreboding as sink holes and black lung.” His pioneering work and the profound sense of place that emerges in all of his poetry and workshops gained international recognition. He was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Summit of Mining Communities, held in Butte, Montana in 2009. Czury is the recipient of international awards for poetry, and has been presented the prestigious Laureateship and Honorary Membership of Ditët e Naimit (Days Of Naim) international Albanian poetry festival in Macedonia for his literary bridge-building between U.S. and Albanian cultures.

A poet in education through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and various national and international arts foundations, Czury spent a year with AmeriCorps* WritersCorps in Washington, D.C., conducting poetry workshops with inmate-patients at St. Elizabeths Psychiatric Hospital, and creating environmental multi-voice poetry performances with urban elementary students that were presented at the Library of Congress. An Americans For The Arts artist exchange fellow, Czury developed a series of poetry performances, through the Derry Playhouse, uniting Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland for BBC Radio Foyle. He has created a community documentary with poetry throughout Berks County with his National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored Berks Poetry. Czury’s intergenerational Scranton Poem Opera staged the varied voices of one community, winning him the Key to the City of Scranton. Avid blues harp and bocce player, Czury lives in Reading, Pa.

Since 2011, Czury has relocated to the Springville Schoolhouse Arts Studios, Springville, Pa., where he has developed a regional writing project, with Kim Glemboski, COMMON GROUND: A Community Conversation about Natural Gas and Northeastern PA. Recipient of the 2012 F. Lammot Belin Scholarship for Artists enabled Czury to continue to piece together my “Thumb Notes”—interviews collected while hitchhiking Rt. 29 between Tunkhannock and Montrose—into a long documentary poem that chronicles the voices of the people of and from outside the region who have told me their stories and views of their changing culture.

Heather Thomas, co-featured TBA. 

Heather Thomas’s latest book is “Blue Ruby” (FootHills Publishing). She has new poems online in the lit mags Interim, About Place, and Press 1; in the print anthologies Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets and Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology; and in three eastern European anthologies published in Bosnia, Macedonia, and Lithuania. Her recent talk, “My Dialect Is Poetry,” was presented at the Poetry Spring festival in Vilnius, Lithuania. Heather’s poems have been translated into Spanish, Lithuanian, Bosnian, and Albanian. She taught creative writing and modern poetry at Kutztown University for 25 years and lives in Reading, where she likes to read and write.


Poetry Thursdays' upcoming events:

Next up at Midtown Scholar Poetry Thursdays:

All Events are from 7-9 pm with an Open Reading from 7-8 pm
followed by an 8-9 pm Feature, or continued Open.
April 17 -- Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

April 24 -- Feature Keith Snow with Host Christian Thiede.
May 1 -- Feature Femi the DriFish with Host Christian Thiede.

May 8 -- Open Reading with Host Marty Esworthy.

May 15 -- Feature Le Hinton with Host Christian Thiede.

May 22 -- Feature Michael Lear-Olimpi with Host Christian Thiede.

May 29 -- Memorial Day Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.
June 5 -- TBA

June 12 -- TBA

June 19 -- TBA

June 26 -- TBA
July 3 -- Fourth of July Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

July 10 -- TBA

July 17 -- TBA

July 24 -- TBA

July 31 -- TBA
August 7 -- TBA

August 14 -- TBA

August 21 -- TBA

August 28 -- TBA
September 4 -- Labor Day Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

September 11 -- TBA

September 18 -- TBA

September 25 -- TBA
October 2 -- TBA

October 9 -- TBA

October 16 -- TBA

October 23 -- TBA

October 30 -- TBA
November 6 -- TBA

November 13 -- TBA

November 20 -- TBA

November 27 -- Thanksgiving Holiday--NO READING!
December 4 -- TBA

December 11 -- TBA

December 18 -- TBA

December 25 -- Christmas Holiday--NO READING!


  "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July"

           by Billy Collins
I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure—if it is a pleasure—
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one—
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table—
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

Billy Collins, “Fishing on the Susquehanna in July” from Picnic, Lightning. Copyright © 1998 by Billy Collins                 



          The Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, a true American
       institution, has been at Harrisburg's Midtown Scholar Bookstore's
       Internet Cafe since September 2012. 
But we've been taking care of 
business much longer than that.
Poetry Thursdays has met (almost) every Thursday 
since April 1999. 
                                Venues? Well, just to name a few:
                                      Sweet Passions, 3rd St, Harrisburg, 1999--2001
                       Sparky & Clarks, 2d St, Hbg. 2001--2002
                     Gamut Theater, Strawberry Sq. Hbg. 2003
                    Susquehanna Art Museum, Hbg. 2003--2007
                       Crimson Frog, Cedar Cliff Mall, Camp Hill, 2007--2008
 Midtown Cinema, Harrisburg, 2008--2012
                                    Midtown Scholar, Harrisburg, 2012--present