One of those Days

a poem by Mary Weingartener

Grey

like the rolling clouds and ominous fog that surrounded

the old ramshackle barn as I walked to class and started my day.

Fractured

A whole, well-maintained picture to an outsider, but slightly

amiss to those who are curious enough to dare take a second look.

Cold

as the old stone layered exterior

deterring others from getting too close.

Isolated

like the stand-alone building,

not comparable to others, for I know my own worth.

Surrounded

Like the trees to the barn,

never a moment alone.

Aged

Much as the broken siding and crumbling foundation,

a small piece of me breaks a little more every day.

Silent

like the wind blowing swiftly around each new obstacle along its path

taking note of those who have walked the journey beside me, unforgivingly.

Hopeful

when the sun slowly rises, shedding light across the darkness of the woods

that tomorrow will not be

One of those days.

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Place and its Effect on the Poets’ Craft

By Maria James-Thiawauvillar-performance

I am a cliché.

I admit it. The hours upon hours I would sit in cushy café chairs staring at Van Gogh prints or absorbing bebop, acoustic guitar or neo-soul over the sound of espresso beans in the grinder makes me that writer – the one feverishly finishing a manuscript in the corner of the neighborhood coffeehouse, imagining themselves the next JK Rowling.

It’s been done. The evenings wasted away talking with hipsters about all that’s hip, or snapping fingers to a favorite local wordsmith’s latest poetic rant are the moments I live for. They are a major source of inspiration, and yet, while hot mochas are indeed my muse, I still find that being a regular at the local coffee spot can get old after a while. The time comes when a poet needs to find inspiration elsewhere.

For me, that elsewhere has been France, where I took a VCCA poetry workshop in a beautiful and ancient town where you could touch, taste, and feel history everywhere.  The place was poetry, from every curved cobblestone to the floating cottonwood, the thick-hipped maternal sculptures, and the mix of smells emerging from the soap maker’s shop.  In 2015, after my second trip,  I wrote that place – its scent, its people, its food, and its influence on me, a mere visitor.

The experience moved me to ask other writers, contemporary American authors well known for their work, “In what ways does travel impact your writing?”

Here is what they said:

“I use traveling as a kind of self-exile. I’m never able to fully write about the place I live until I am away from it, trmarilyn-nelsonaveling to a place that’s new and unknown. Only then, with distance and even that little ache of homesickness in the heart, does a kind a clarity come to me. Only then do I permit myself the freedom to see what I could not see about my home/community/family, etc when I was in it. . .just one of the ways that traveling impacts my writing.” ~ Marilyn Nelson, award winning poet, translator and children’s book author.

carla-christopher-photo-credit-kate-penn-york-daily-record“Familiarity breeds apathy. Even something as simple as watching a couple walk down the street or having a cup of coffee watching the rain fall becomes a new experience when my surroundings change. Travel keeps me alive to the tiny miracles and the epic beauty of even small and simple things.” Carla Christopher, author, publisher and community activist; Former Poet Laureate of York, PA.

“I do not write overtly about the places I physically visit. And I rarely write about the places where I live. But I do know that when I am actually moving through space on a tetherless voyage, writing moves with me and in me and is touched of course by the whole of those places.” ~ Lucy Anderton, published author and spoken word artist living in France.

 “When I write on the road, I rarely write about my location. Most of my book YOU DON’T MISS YOUR WATER was written on the road, CA, Mexico and Italy, but the poems are grounded in my hometown of Rochester, NY, which is never mentioned.” ~ Cornelius Eady, prize winning poet, co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation.

marilynkallet“Travel is movement, and poetry is all about movement. I take dictation from the road, from the Garonne and the gulls. I listen for every new sound and transcribe new tastes. Travel is often lonely. My poetry is an ally and a friend, constant and porous. I’m in Paris now, alone with my notebook. It’s a consolation. My book, The Love That Moves Me, is all about being on the road, in the air.” ~ Marilyn Kallet, award winning poet, Director of Creative Writing at University of TN-Knoxville.

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Art and Activism Collide – a submission from Kellyn Ishman

Corporate Communication major, Kellyn Ishman, expresses her culture and values with images of freedom fighters in this original drawing she created in 2016. It is very timely considering today’s political climate and the tremendous success of the Women’s Marches earlier this month. The word “coexist” is spelled out in religious symbols, reminding us of our oneness, regardless of differences. Feminist leader Gloria Steinem and Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. are also celebrated in this drawing, which empowers us to speak our minds. Thank you for this timely and powerful submission, Kellyn!

American Culture Sketch_Ishman_Week 2

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Art & Activism: An Interview with Romeo Azondekon

By Daouda Bambaromeo-closeup

For IDS400 Topics in Multiculturalism,  I had the opportunity to interview an artist about art and social movements. You may know Romeo Azondekon as a college administrator, an advisor or the first director of Central Penn College’s Center for Cultural Diversity, but did you know that he is also a multi-talented artist?

His career at Central Penn College began six years ago and he has promoted diversity and inclusion through his many efforts and initiatives.  Romeo is the founder and advisor of the International Society Club, which is a diverse club with members from different countries such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Jamaica, Guinea, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Romeo is also an artist who paints, makes collages, does mixed media, and uses oils. Most of his art work focuses on texture.

He says,  “Art is like a signature to a social movement because it helps the movement leave a legacy behind for the next generation to view and reflect on the struggles their ancestors went through.”

He started painting in his early twenties. Romeo says that art in a social movement is very important because it is a way of expression. It is a powerful way to motivate people to join a movement because it unifies people and creates one unique voice. Almost every movement used art in some shape or form. Art can play a big role in a movement. Art can be in the form of music, poetry, painting, or even attire.

“I have always been passionate about art,” he says. For Romeo, like other activists, art is both identity and self-expression.

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The ADHD Brain and Listening Skills

By Jadon Buser

Reading or reciting your own creative work in public can be a daunting task when you first start out, especially if you’re audience doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to you. Adding vocal variety, keeping it brief and finding other ways to engage your audience can change your poetry reading into a powerful poetic performance. In this essay, Allied Health major Jadon Buser explains the art of listening with ADHD. ~ Prof. Maria Thiaw

jadon1-2Reflecting on my own listening skills, I like to think I do better than the average ADHD student. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. While everyone with ADHD is different, three major areas can be affected: Impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. These definitely get in the way when trying to be a good listener, however, I believe that my ADHD has actually assisted my information processing skills. Since I am unable to hold constant attention or retain much information, I have adapted certain coping mechanisms to compensate and my skills in organizing and filtering relevant information have improved.

With greater awareness of my “listener’s curve” during a presentation, I have conditioned myself to perk at attention to the subtler pauses and tonality changes that indicate that a person is moving on to the next point of their presentation. After I feel that I have processed the necessary information for that point, and the speaker begins to add a story of their own to demonstrate their point or give other supplemental information, I’ll typically “clock out” for the remainder of that point discussion, in order to conserve enough “attentive energy” – so to speak – to fully process the next point made.

This method is not as effective, however, when instructions are being given or when a long list of important details are being explained. That is when I have the most trouble retaining information, and effective note-taking becomes an absolute must.

Our culture seems to be built to exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, and I can immediately think of 3 ways that it does so:

  • Interruptive dialogue,
  • televised media, and
  • social media.

Interruptive dialogue is the norm of socializing in the United States. More often than not, socializing (not public speaking) typically can be broken down to one person making a statement, then the rest of the members of that conversation race to see who can give their response first or start a new topic first. This reduces listening ability because, in order to be the fastest, one must stop listening and be prepared to interject at a moment’s pause. Waiting till a person finishes their subject completely not only shows respect, but you may learn something from them that you wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

Televised media also discourages listening ability through its ADHD-like speed and rate of subject changes. If you ever pay close attention to the shows and commercials you watch, the speed at which they speak and introduce new ideas is faster and more intense than what the average person CAN speak, which turns your brain onto overdrive in order to keep up with it all. (Ever notice how you typically feel revved up rather than relaxed after watching TV, and that it can be harder to fall asleep right after a show?) The only solution to this that I know of is simply to reduce the amount of television that you watch, so that you can save your mental energy for more important things.

Social media is the last culprit that I’ll mention, and it may not be in the way that you think. While social media has done a great job of ruining dinner conversations and making speakers feel irrelevant, the core issue is the exacerbation of ADHD-like symptoms through overstimulation of the brain. If you look at social media – let’s say Facebook – you scroll through a wall of short, provocative statements that are all made to grab your attention. It’s no wonder that we subconsciously go to social media on our phones whenever we’re not being stimulated by our surroundings. The simple solution here – give Facebook a rest, because in reality you know that, in the last 30 seconds, you really haven’t missed anything.

Hope my spiel on listening skills from the mind of an ADHD college student gave you some food for thought!

 

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Yin Yang

A poem by Christine Fusselman, Class of 2016

 

Colorful leaves

radiate like fire’s glow.

As embers rise into the dark,

flaming foliage twists, turns,

descends from lofty limbs.

Tugged from their summer home

by autumn’s whistling winds.

Beautiful turns ugly,

falling to the ground.

Withering, rotting, burying itself

within an earthy mound.

yinyang

Yet, death nurtures life

in the calm, still winter.

Cold turns to warm.

Old becomes new.

Brilliant blooms spring from below

displacing winter’s hue.

Tender stems become strong trees

wrapping themselves in jackets of leaves –

bright, beautiful, colorful leaves.

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Professor Gadsden’s African American Storytellers Fest Brings History and Culture to the City of Harrisburg

By Norman Geary

On Sunday, October 16, the Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop had an African American Storytellers Festival at the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  This event was co-sponsored by Jump Street, Life Esteem Inc., Community Art Publishers, PA Council of the Arts, and Imani African Christian Church.

Nathaniel Gadsden's Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden, a professor of African American History at Central Penn College and the founder of the Writer’s Wordshop, hosted the event which featured many prominent artists and speakers including:  professional storyteller Denise Valentine, actress and author Lynn Blackston, professor and writer Ron Kipling, and performance poets Terri A. Durden and Carla Christopher.

The main focus of Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is to provide a platform for poets and spoken word artists to perform and to get published.   The festival is just one of the many cultural family events held by Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop at the State Museum throughout the year.  The Writers’ Wordshop gets creative individuals involved by giving them exposure while educating the audience about African American history, which includes a number of social topics affecting the African American culture as a whole.

The Wordshop helps performers, writers and poets find their voice and gain confidence to promote publication of their works.  Students of the Wordshop have become known for their works and are often looked upon and asked to perform and participate in events throughout the region.

Terri A. Durden, Founder/CEO of Community-4-Change, Inc. says, “I’ve been writing since 8th grade.  I started writing little love letters to my boyfriend…  I would take songs and blend them together and make a poem until I learned to create my own poetry. “  Now Terri is an award winning poet with a book published, I Will Remember You and one coming out –  Words, Sounds, Echoing.

The Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop meets at The Midtown Scholar Book Store, 3rd & Verbeke Street, Harrisburg, PA 1st , 2nd and 4th Fridays from 7-9 p.m.  Each meeting features a performer and an open reading. They are free to the public.  Everyone is welcome to join the Writers Wordshop.

For more information contact: Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden at nathanielgadsden@centralpenn.edu or 717-608-2312.


Norman Geary is a Corporate Communications major at Central Penn College, a member of the Media Club, and a regular contributor to The Knightly News.

 

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Knight Writers and Library Staff Bring Hogwartz to Central Penn College

On Saturday, October 22nd from 10 AM to 2 PM, join the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club and the library staff for a magical day of Harry Potter themed games and activities. Visitors of all ages can climb through a giant spider web, meet a fortune teller or get “beanboozled” by some “every flavor” jelly beans. There will be fun activities for all ages in the library, which will be transformed into Hogwartz School of Wizardry for Fall Harvest.

“I thought Harry Potter was a fun literary way to celebrate the season with students, alumni and families that visit for Fall Harvest,” says Maria Thiaw, advisor of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club.

Knight Writers helped decorate, make invitations and even created a game similar to PokemonGo for guests that arrive prepared with a smartphone. Expect a magical time! The event will be held from 10AM to 2PM in the Charles T. Jones Library at Central Penn College on Saturday, October 22nd. It is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to bring your Smartphone but remember – first years are not allowed to bring their own broom!  See you at Fall Harvest!

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It’s Dictionary Day!

Snip20140915_1Let me guess, you didn’t know that today, October 16th, is the day where avid dictionary-lovers cling to their dusty tomes and reminiscence about the days when students were taught how to decipher the pronunciation key and how to use catchwords as the ‘quick search’ feature before there were such things a ‘quick search’ features.  But don’t worry!  You don’t have to be a lexicographer to enjoy today.

noahDictionary Day shares its day with one of the celebrities of the dictionary world (the word celebrity, of course, is always relative: look it up!): Noah Webster, a man largely responsible for causing fights between family members when playing Scrabble (“What do you mean hollar isn’t in the dictionary?  It’s a word.  Like down in the hollar!”).

441820You probably don’t remember the days before Google or Dictionary.com when if you wanted to know how to spell something or needed to find its definition that you had to lug out the big red book with Merriam-Webster emblazoned in gold on the cover like the seal of some secret society whose sole mission was to protect words from an oncoming apocalypse where only cockroaches and antiquated words hither swithly avaunt into the sunset.

So, why should we continue to celebrate a piece of writing that is more likely to be used as a doorstop rather than be read?  Because, like most things, it’s not about the packaging: it’s about the contents.  Words!  Beautiful amazing words.  Webster devoted his entire professional career so that you could call your favorite professor’s voice sonorous; your least favorite cafeteria item odious; and the odd day when you get out of class five minutes early exhilarating.

And digital dictionaries have actually brought more people to these words than the printed loadstones that Webster had to work with.  You can now get a ‘word of the day‘ that will tell you divarication means on one day and flapdoodle means the next.  There are even ‘word of the day’ apps that will send fantastic words to your phone, so you can impress everyone you know by correctly using indemnify in a sentence.


Flapdoodle


There are no rules for celebrating Dictionary Day (none that I could find at least in my albeit very cursory internet search), and rather than tell you all to pick up your dictionary and start with aardvark, I would encourage you to find a couple of new favorite words and use them liberally: lascivious, masticate, garrulous, bellicose, egalitariancaveat.

So go on and engage in some word play!

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Submit a Poem by November 1!

Would you like a vibrant young audience to read your work? Then it’s time for you to submit a poem to the Poem for Your Pocket project! If you would like to submit a poem, send it in an email to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu with the subject line: Poem For Your Pocket. The deadline is November 1.
 
The Poem for Your PocKnight Writersket project is a collection of poetry written by students, faculty, staff and friends of Central Penn College. Published authors like Shaashawn Dial-Snowden and Maria James-Thiaw as well as student authors like past KW president Greg Jones have poems in the mix. This virtual poetry chapbook is a great way to have your work read by young readers while helping out student writers. Instead of a traditional chapbook with pages, ours is a gumball machine that is out at campus events like Fall Harvest and the annual Poetry Slam. Patrons pay 25 cents for a bit of your inspiration and a ring!
 
Make your poetry the prize! Submit a poem to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu today! For more information, contact Professor Maria Thiaw, 717-728-2524.

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