Category Archives: Poetry

Little Swahili Boy

by Emylee Ballo


For the first time, I saw someone

in two places at once.

His elementary legs four yards ahead of his mind

running away from the bullying stick-throwers

his brain longed to name friends.


The little boy didn’t resemble the others—

dirtier than the path he ran on

smaller than the single-portion meal he didn’t receive

But more joyful than the songs he clapped to

in the third-world classroom.


I didn’t know his name

but to him, I was “Teacher.”

I only wanted to help aide his time left on earth—

Just have him sit on the side a spare moment

and if he waited with his water

he would receive a double portion.

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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 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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From Page to Stage: Spring Contest Winners Get Ready for the Summer Slam

By Professor Maria Thiaw     Snip20150812_12

In honor of National Poetry Month, The Academy of American Poets sponsors a contest each year for undergraduate writers at colleges and universities throughout the country. This year, The Central Pen Poetry Prize’s panel of judges, a group of distinguished professors and writers, received numerous high quality entries. The competition was fierce, but in the end, three emerging wordsmiths rose to the surface. I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Central Pen Poetry Prize. They are:

Third Place:                       Story of a Dark Skin Beauty by Nautica Chance

In the words of one distinguished judge: “It’s a powerful and emotional narrative about a pain that is all too real.”

Nautica performed this poignant poem at Central Penn College’s first Kwanzaa celebration last December, and its power resonates whether one hears it on the stage or reads it on the page. Nautica will receive $25.


Second Place:                   I Am Black History by Teta GayeTeta5

“Potent imagery,” commented one judge, “[Teta] delivers a strong sense of self and place with an appreciation of self and history and the connections in between. Strong and eloquent.”

Teta, president of the Knight Writers’ Creative Writing Club, speaks out in the spirit of ancestral pride in this cultural anthem.  She will receive $50.00.


First Place:                         One of Those Days by Mary Weingartner

Mary’s poem began as a writing prompt in her ENG300 Creative Writing class. A blend of ekphrastic writing (writing inspired by art) and emotionalism, this well-formed free verse poem is a vivid word-painting. One of the judges said, “This poem has a strong emotional impact…the ending is amazing!”

Mary will receive $100.00 and a year’s membership in the Academy of American Poets as well as the chance to be entered into the Academy’s national prize that will award the winning student $1,000.

On behalf of The Central Pen staff, the distinguished judges and the Dean of Humanities and Sciences, special thanks go out to all of the students that worked hard to polish their poems and submit them. As stated previously, the competition was fierce. All of these budding artists created beautiful and thought provoking work.  Continue writing because you are all incredibly talented!

Keep your eye on updates from The Central Pen. The Summer Poetry Slam, a spoken word poetry competition is Wednesday, September 7th at 7pm in the Capital BlueCross Theatre! We want to hear your voices.

To enter the slam or to get more information about The Knight Writers Creative Writing Club or The Central Pen, contact or see me, Professor Maria Thiaw in Bollinger 46.

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by | August 9, 2016 · 7:21 pm

2016 Poetry Contest!

Poetry Contest 2016The Central Pen Literary E-zine and The Academy of American Poets is proud to present the 2016 Poetry Contest!  All current Central Penn College students are invited to participate.  The first place winner will receive a $100 prize, a one-year subscription to the Academy of American Poets, and publication in the e-zine.  Second place will receive $50 and publication in the e-zine.  Third place will receive $25 and publication in the e-zine.  Submit to before April 29, 2016 to be considered!

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by | March 30, 2016 · 1:14 pm

An Exquisite Corpse Comes to Club Fair!

Knight WritersThanks to all of the students that participated in the Knight Writers’ “Exquisite Corpse” story building game at the Winter Club fair! The Exquisite Corpse was a party game played by surrealist French artists and poets in the early 20th century. One person would write a phrase or create an image, then fold the paper over to conceal part of it. They would then pass it to the next person, who would add their contribution. This collaborative and creative effort often has amazing results!

If you enjoy playing with language, writing poetry, stories, rap, drama or creative nonfiction, come to the Knight Writers’ Creative Writing Club kickoff meeting in the library’s leadership room at 2:30 on Wednesday, January 20th. You will learn what the club is all about and have the opportunity to join. Help build our story! For more information contact us at or visit our Facebook page.

Here is what we came up with on Wednesday, January 6th at the Club Fair in the Capital BlueCross Theatre. Can you add the next line?


Once the new year began, Joe decided to make some changes in his life…

And then suddenly life slapped him in the face!

And justice was served…

In walked Bill.

Bill was tall. His skin was leathery…

His hair was black as night…

His eyes were coal….

Much to Joe’s surprise, when he confronted him…

he was very soft spoken…

However, he carried a big stick…

And then suddenly, he threw it in the river!

He found a dog swimming to land…

And then he took it home…

And then he went to sleep…

not realizing that the new canine friend he had found was really…


The story continues…


Leave a comment to add another line or two to our story! Join us for refreshments at 2:30, Wednesday, January 20th in the library to continue the saga and hear the final results!

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Topics in Multiculturalism Class Explores the Voices From The Land

ChristineZeidersA few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an amazing training weekend for teachers from the EIRC’s Monarch Teacher Network. It was called “Voices from the Land. ” The project blended lessons in the principles and elements of design, the elements of poetry, writing and environmental science as well as multiculturalism and multimedia.  We were informed by the beautiful and inspiring work of environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, and wrote and published poetry based on our own environmental creations. I was thrilled for the opportunity to introduce this project to Central Penn College students in the Topics in Multiculturalism class on Earth Day, 2015.

The Voices From the Land project allows students to go outside and become one with nature, then allow nature to speak to them and through them. After several weeks of discussing how different cultural groups used art to promote social protest movements, students were open to imbuing their own thoughts and beliefs into this project using natural elements around them. After creating and photographing their artwork, they wrote poetry about them. Christine Zeiders sculpted natural elements to create the photograph you see on the left. Below are a few more photos and poems from my Spring 2015 class.  These students weren’t art or creative writing majors but they put a lot of effort into these projects and did a fabulous job.

JenaiaOnly She Knows

by Jenaia Everett

Only she knows what lies behind the center of her joy.

Fear, uncertainty, change and

hope encompasses her soul like the circle of life,

like the eye of a storm, who’s power swallows her emotions deep within.

Only she knows what lies behind the center of her joy.

The sky cries like the tears streaming down her face,

shedding darkness and dismay.

From the death of past hurt and pain, rises color,

happiness and light.

But only she knows what lies behind the center of her joy.

A new beginning, a new circle, a new life.

The calm and quiet well after the storm.

But only she knows what lies behind the center of her joy.


Sun Moon Star

by Matthew C. McCottryMatthew

Sun meets tree

high on the hill

Tree s t r e t c h e s

and leaves dance in

fading shadows


beneath the trees

Smooth, fluffy cotton surrounds the

opaque moon

Moon reveals its scars to a world

of dreamers

Night owls sing to the starlight above

stories of galaxies

framed in black

Sun, Moon, Star,  together eternal.


SarahYoung HollyRamsey:

Left: Sarah Young ;  Right: Holly Ramsey

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Slam Poets: Tell Us How To Throw Down!

Maria James-Thiaw asked the local slam community advice on how to throw down at a slam contest.  This is what they told us!


“Practice. Some practice is better than none.”–Marilyn Kallet

“Winning the slam will never help you win yourself. Win who you are, your purpose.That will always remain in your hands.  So always carry your purpose to the stage with you. ” –Slangston Hughes


“Romance the mic and believe that no one else can do that better than you! If you focus on your own performance, there will be no room for comparing yourself to anyone else (which is a BIG wagging, shake-a-finger NO NO!).” –Quill Reed

“…Just like entering the hundred yard dash or a boxing match, you go in to win, connect and show them what you’re really made of figuratively.”–Femi Drifish


“Don’t be self-conscious about your performance — don’t even think about it as a performance, but as you speaking your heart to friends. Everyone supports one another in these. Go!”–Michael Lear-Olimpi

“Slam because you have a story to tell. A poem you have to share. An experience someone else might need to hear on any given Tuesday.” —Dawn Saylor


…and of course, don’t forget to sign up for the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam.  Get the details here.

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$100.00 to go to Poetry Slam Champion – Sign-Up Today!

The 3rd Annual Poetry Slam will be held on Thursday, September 3rd in the Capital BlueCross Theatre on Central Penn College’s Summerdale campus. This event will be hosted by the Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s Contemporary American Writer’s Of Color class. The first place slam-master will walk away with a cool $100.00. There are second and third place prizes as well.


The Slam will be judged by students, faculty and Baltimore spoken word powerhouse, Ladi Glori. Central Penn alumna, Shonyah Hawkins will M.C. the free event.  Performers must be students or alumni of Central Penn College and can sign up by emailing no later than August 15. Spots are limited, so don’t delay.

What’s a Poetry Slam?

A poetry slam is a contest in which poets are judged by both their writing style and performance ability. Poets don’t merely ‘read’ their original work, but they deliver it with dramatic flair. Since no one sees the work on paper, slam poets don’t have to worry about being grammatically correct or holding to a traditional form. Poetry slams are a national pastime that has brought the art of poetry off the page and out of the classroom for regular people to enjoy.

Are there rules?

Although the rules of grammar and form are relaxed in a slam, wordsmiths must remember these tips for success:

No props but the poem and the mic!

The first rule of a poetry slam is that there are no props allowed. You can’t talk to an empty chair, hold a dummy, or throw a paper airplane. It is just you, the word and the mic.   For this particular slam you are allowed to have your poem on paper, however most slam champions memorize their pieces and perform them with power.

No disclaimers!

Do not explain your inspiration, apologize, or give a soliloquy about the piece you are about to perform. You only have 3 minutes and the timer starts when you open your mouth.

Respect the Mic!

Although a vast array of once taboo subjects are welcomed in poetry slams, hatred, misogyny and homophobia are not. Please stay away from racial slurs, anti-gay rhetoric or religion bashing. This is a multicultural event. Let’s celebrate the art of the spoken word together!

How Can I Be Down?

So you want to watch the slam? Show up to the Capital BlueCross Theatre in the Underground on the Summerdale campus on Thursday, September 3 at 7 pm to support your friends. Give them lots of love, snaps and claps when they’re on stage.

Oh, you want to walk away with $100.00 and some Central Penn swag? Sign up to perform by sending an email to by August 15. Send us your name, contact information and the name of your poem.

Got Any Tips?



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Apparition by Dezmyn Edmond

I haven’t talked to or seen my dad in years

Is that weird? A ghost of my past that brings me tears?

One of my greatest fears is crying in front of people,

But who’s going to hear me when I’m a spirit, is that believable?

The life of a ghost, I got it genetically from my dad

If I told my mom that, she’d say “it’s just a fad”

She’s a nonbeliever, she doesn’t believe in ghosts

Not believing me or my dad, what a host

Can you be an apparition, but still be afraid of them?

Why am I not normal like the rest of them?

Ghosts scare people, but I’m alienated

I feel the hatred. Not because I’m a ghost, but because I’m a friendly one

Now isn’t that fun? I’m weightless but I feel like I weigh a ton

Like an automaton, an android, a robot

Feel like the world relies on me to save it, like an Autobot

I can now see through my eyelids, so I don’t sleep a wink

Surprised with the lack of sleep that I’m not a psychofink

Why bother try to sleep? It’s irrelevant to me now

I forgot the ability to sleep, so I don’t know how

If you were in my shoes would you feel the same way?

Probably not since I’m a ghost so I don’t wear them anyway

I’m just a shadowy figure lingering in the dark

Trying to make people see me to make my mark

People perform séances just to talk to me

And they always think my services are for free

Because I’m a friendly ghost, but I’m not Casper,

But I’m never happy so I’m not gay, like Family Guy’s Jasper

I can say whatever I want because who listens to what I say?

People noticing I exist? That’ll be the day

I’ll disappear forever into the shadows where I belong

Consumed by hatred and darkness, I knew it all along.

Amani_ZDezmyn Edmond is an accounting major from Toms River, NJ who enjoys writing and performing.  He is an active member of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club and gave a moving reading of their prize winning poems at the Knight Writer’s “Take a Stand” event in June..

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# Rep your city

My city is known as the city of brotherly love

Yet we watch anxiously

As our brothers put guns to innocent temples and pull the trigger

Releasing their rights to freedom


Let us not forget the whips that were cracked against our brother’s bare black skin

The flesh that has been torn open at the expense

Of us

The generation that would save us all

Because after all we are the future.


But yet we are a disgrace in the eyes of our ancestors.

Can you picture it?

Emmett till spitting out our names in shame

Harriet Tubman turning her face disowning us.

Martin Luther king pulling the “I have a dream speech” from underneath our muddy undeserving feet.

Can you see it?

We are being stripped of our culture the more we embrace this city that’s not of brotherly love

But a city filled with brothers that embrace self hate.

Philadelphia native, Ayana Addison has been writing poetry for years and studied under JusGreg (aka Greg Corbin,) the award-winning spoken word artist and teacher from HBO’s Brave New Voices.  She is an active member of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club.  “#Rep your city” won second prize in Central Penn College’s 6th Annual Poetry Contest in 2015 sponsored by the Academy of American Poets.

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