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


Summer is here in Harrisburg. Take off your words and fly with the birds.
Come sun 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:
          September 11:

        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: 

Melissa Carl, featured September 18. 

Melissa Carl has published her work in a variety of publications, including Amoskeag, And Love (anthology), Bigger Than They Appear (anthology), The Broken Plate Review, Blood Lotus Journal, Cellpoems, CircleShow, The Copperfield Review, Curio Poetry, The Freshwater Journal, Halfway Down the Stairs, In Posse Review, Off the Coast Magazine, Toad the Journal, and Waiting Room Reader II (anthology). In April 2013 she was one of 85 participants in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month Pulitzer Remix Project. She published her most recent full length collection, titled Whatever Form, in 2014.

Rick Kearns, featured September 25. 

Rick Kearns, aka Rick Kearns-Morales is a poet, freelance writer and musician of Puerto Rican (Spanish/Taino) and European background based in Harrisburg, Pa.   He was named Poet Laureate of the City of Harrisburg, Pa in 2014.

Kearns’ poems have appeared in the following anthologies: BULLYING Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions and Catharsis (Skyhorse Publishing, NY 2012); I Was Indian (before being Indian was cool) (Foothills Publishing, NY 2009);  El Coro/A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1997); In Defense of Mumia (Writers & Readers Press, Harlem, NY, 1996); and ALOUD; Voices from the Nuyorican Cafe (Henry Holt & Co., NY, 1994. Winner of the American Book Award.)  His work has appeared in literary reviews such as: The Massachusetts Review, Letras Salvajes (literary review from Puerto Rico), Letras (lit review of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, NY), Conversation Quarterly (UK), Painted Bride Quarterly, Chicago Review, Revival Literary Review (Ireland), ONTHEBUS, Poetry Motel, The Blue Guitar,  Drum Voices Revue (So. Illinois University Edwardsville), The Patterson Review, HEART Quarterly, Big Hammer, Palabra: A Journal of Chicano and Literary Art, Yellow Medicine Review, Fledgling Rag and others.

Kearns has given readings of his own poetry as the featured reader in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Baltimore, Camden (NJ) and other places since 1988, including colleges and universities such as Penn State University, Swarthmore College, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Rutgers University.   Much of his work deals with his Puerto Rican heritage and identity, including his Taino background.  He has performed his work with musical accompaniment on various occasions, including sessions with: tabla; flamenco guitar; Latin percussion-congas, timbales, etc.; jazz saxophone; upright bass; jazz quartet of trumpet & congas, upright bass, guitar, sax & clarinet - the Con Alma Quartet since 2010.

Rick Kearns and the Con Alma Quartet features the blending of Kearns' poetry with established jazz tunes that typically include improvised interactions between the poet and the musicians.  Since 2010 the group has performed at a variety of venues including: the Harrisburg Riverboat; the Central Pa Friends of Jazz Jazz Picnic; the Ware Center for the Arts, Lancaster, Pa; Open Stage Theater, Harrisburg, Pa; the Wildwood Writer's Festival, Harrisburg Area Community College; the Culture & Main TV show, WRCT, York, Pa; and the Yocum Institute for Arts Education, Wyomissing, Pa.

Rick Kearns and the Con Alma Quartet released a CD of their collaborations in December of 2013.

Recordings of Kearns reading his poems with the Con Alma Quarter can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/rickkearnsconalma.  He can be heard reading solo at: https://soundcloud.com/teodoro-maxwell.

Foothills Publishing just issued a collection of his poetry called Rufino's Secret in December 2011.  His poetry has also been published in three chapbooks and two full collections: Street of Knives (Warm Springs Press, 1993), Boricua In Between (1997), Jazz Poems (1997), Endtime Poems, (1998, Pacobooks), and in 2007 he published The Body of My Isla.  Red Pagoda Press has published five of his poems in brochure form since 2000.

After his poem “Crows and Bullets” was translated into Spanish, Kearns was interviewed and then read from his work on an Argentine internet radio show called “La Consorte”, hosted by poet Juan Daniel Perrotta; the show aired on Dec. 22, 2008.   Kearns translated his poem “The Geometry of Rage” into Spanish and it was used as part of a workshop on Psychological Extortion by Psychoanalyst Laura Blejer of Buenos Aires, Argentina in August of 2009.  His poem "A View of Fazenda Garcia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil" was translated into Portuguese and was read on a radio show in Salvador, Brazil in 2010.

In February of 2012, he was interviewed in Spanish in the online radio program called Denserio, hosted by the writer Esteban Charpentier and is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He also read a few of his poems involving Puerto Rican themes in Spanish and English on Denserio's July 4th show, 2013.

Three of his poems, “Aurelio’s Vengeance, Puerto Rico, 1901”, “Pasteles” and “The Body of My Isla” are included in the poetry section of http://www.virtualboricua.org (since 2005).

As a journalist Kearns has written for daily, weekly and monthly news publications since 1986. In the last decade his work has focused on Latino and Native American issues.  Since 2006 Kearns has written about indigenous Latin American issues for “Indian Country Today” which became "Indian Country Today Media Network" (www.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com) the nation’s largest Native American news publication, with special focus on stories from Ecuador, Columbia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico among others. By January of 2014, ICTMN had published well over 250 of his articles, several of which have been reprinted in over 50 online publications including a few in Latin America and Europe.  His article, “Native Environmental Hero” appeared in Native American Voices, a collection of poetry, prose and articles used in Native Studies courses in over 50 universities.  In 1998 he won Best Interview of the Year from the National Federation of Hispanic Owned Newspapers for his interview with Manuel Rodriguez Orellana, spokesman for the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Since 1999 his articles have appeared in national magazines and newspapers such as Hispanic, Native Peoples, Native Americas.

On Oct. 5, 2013 he published an eBook: Tainos in New York. Articles about Taino History and the Taino Cultural Restoration Movement.  This collection includes articles from regional and national publications covering the years 1997-2013.

Many of his articles dealing with the indigenous heritage of Puerto Rico were listed in a collection on the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink: www.centrelink.org.  The CAC was a scholarly project organized and managed by Anthropologist Dr. Maximilian Forte.

Kearns has also given a talk, “No Longer Waiting for Justice/The Rise and Return of Indigenous Latin America” at Millersville Univ. or Pa in November of 2008.

He received a B.A. in Spanish from Millersville University of Pa. (1984), and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism (1986). 

Yolanda Wisher, featured October 2. 

Yolanda Wisher is a Philadelphia-based poet, singer, musician, and educator. Wisher was born in the historic Germantown section of Philadelphia and raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where she was named the county's first poet laureate at the age of 23. She is a Cave Canem graduate and received an M.A. in Creative Writing/English from Temple University and a B.A. in English and Black Studies from Lafayette College. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Fence, Ploughshares, Gathering Ground, and The Ringing Ear, and she regularly performs her poetry in collaboration with musicians for audiences of all ages. In 2013, she co-edited the international anthology Peace is a Haiku Song with inaugural Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez. As a teacher, radio host, and founder/director of the Germantown Poetry Festival, Wisher has utilized poetry as a conduit for community-building and youth empowerment for over fifteen years. Wisher heads the Art Education department of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and is also a Founding Cultural Agent for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, a new citizen-powered initiative. She lives in Germantown with her husband Mark Palacio, a doublebassist, and their son Thelonious. Her first book of poetry, Monk Eats an Afro, was published by Hanging Loose Press in May 2014.

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. An 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.
July 3 -- Fourth of July Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

July 10 -- Feature Christine Lincoln with Host Christian Thiede.

July 17 -- Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

July 24 -- Features Sally Moffitt Zaino and Julie Moffitt with Host Christian Thiede.

July 31 --Open Reading with Host Christine O'Leary-Rockey.
August 7 -- Feature J Branch with Host Christian Thiede.

August 14 -- Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

August 21 -- Feature Dustin Nispel with Host Christian Thiede.

August 28 -- Open Reading with Special Guest Host Joslin Kearse.
September 4 -- Labor Day Open Reading with Host Anna Jane.

September 11 -- Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

September 18 -- Feature Melissa Carl with Host Christian Thiede.

September 25 -- Feature Rick Kearns with Host Christian Thiede.
October 2 -- Feature Yolanda Wisher with Host Christian Thiede.

October 9 -- Open Reading with Host Christian Thiede.

October 16 -- TBA

October 23 -- TBA

October 30 -- Open Reading with Special Guest Host TBA.
November 6 -- TBA

November 13 -- TBA

November 20 -- TBA

November 27 -- Thanksgiving Holiday--NO READING!
December 4 -- Feature Gettysburg Trio with Host Christian Thiede.

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