"Place, with a trace of humanity" Photography/Photo of the Day/Pittsburgh


Historic South Side Presbyterian Hosted Poetry Reading

What is so rare as a day in June?

Friday June 10th


Poets Mike James, Roberta Hatcher and Timons Esaias

IMG_0257Book signing after the reading

Note:  Roberta Hatcher’s book cover of French Lessons is shown in postcard form above- Watch for information about upcoming Book Release Party  Finishing Line Press

Mike James drove up from Chapel Hill to read and he has a new book, Peddler’s Blues forthcoming (August) preorder at Main Street Rag Press

Timons Esaias    2015 Louis Award winner  On Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, get your autographed copy of the book directly from Timons at In Your Write Mind, Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA. or click his name to buy from Amazon link. Published by Concrete Wolf

IMG_0268Poets  Michael Wurster mentor, poet, teacher, Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange founder,  (front right)


Michael Wurster and host Pastor Kathy Hamilton-Vargo


Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.38.23 PM.pngThe Poetry Reading was Sponsored by The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange and hosted by South Side Presbyterian Church.


The Satisfaction of Sock Knitting


A Handknit Sock

There’s a math to it. The cast on. Count
the multiples of four.
Last year it was hats and cowls.
This year, socks.
I want to try the fish lips kiss heel.

It’s a simple thing. How a sock is knit.
You start with yarn.
Needles as slim as toothpicks.
Terms like toe and gusset and cuff.
My friend says, "it’s too much work."

There’s a rhythm in the repetition.
The making. Clockwise circles.
Some throw, some pick.
Row after row after row.
In time you get length and warmth.

There’s the calm you long for,
around and around and around.
Turn heel for a path to Zen.
You think of those you love.
The grandmother who taught you.

The wet squeezed out,
pairs hang to dry. Later fold
their softness, admire the colors,
ignore imperfections.
Find comfort, hidden in shoes.
My squishy hand knit socks.

Poem in Your Pocket Day – April 30th

My sister wrote to remind me that April 30th (tomorrow) is Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Don’t have a poem?

You can download one from the American Academy of Poets site right here

When I taught in a K-8 school, I had a basket of poems for the office counter with a sign, TAKE ONE.

I read a poem a day over the PA for the K-2 morning announcements for the month of April, National Poetry Month.

Sometimes the poem taker would put back the poem they selected in search of one that spoke to them.

Tonight I printed out The Pasture by Robert Frost. Put it in my denim blazer pocket.

When I was in the third grade (1960) I had to memorize and recite it at the end of the year “stepping up” ceremony.

Mary is going to have one of our mother’s favorite- Walt Whitman’s Elegy- When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed

What poem will you have in your pocket to read and share?






Typewriter Poet at the Wedding

The typewriter is a 1941 model.

The typewriter poet, Dylan Laine, creates a custom poem for the bride and groom in 5 minutes or less.

The poems were hung on a rose laden trellis that will be incorporated in a book for Josh and Sara.

I just thought it was the coolest thing I’ve seen at a wedding lately…. so I asked her if it would be okay to blog her and she agreed.  Thanks Typewriter Poet.






Here Dylan Laine, Typewriter Poet, jots down a few words to create the poem for the bride and groom.




The typewriter poet explains how it works. IMG_9297




The custom poem she created with my words.






Scottish Bard’s 256th Birthday Anniversary – Just before sunset in the snow

Steve said it was Robbie Burns birthday today.  Born January 25, 1759.

We missed the fancy fundraiser for the museum last week, the Haggis and men decked out in kilts of their clan.

We missed the “not your grandfather’s ” Robert Burns birthday party in Lawrenceville and the one on the South Side with all kinds of scotch at Piper’s pub.

But we got to pay homage to the Scottish poet, just before dusk.  The end of a January gloomy Sunday.

We headed out to Schenley Park to the Robert Burns statue (by Scottish sculptor J. Massey Rhind)  and it started to snow.

Burns statue with snow front

Right next to Phipps Conservatory.

Burns statue with snow

Burns statue with plow

Burns Pedestal

Mrs. Peacock sounds like a game of clue but here is  a snippet of the article in the Mary 3, 1914 Post-Gazette.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 10.48.20 PM

For a list of Robert Burns memorials around the world, click here


“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley.
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

(To A Mouse)”
― Robert Burns, The Works of Robert Burns

                                                                                          My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

                                                                                          My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

                                                                                          A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

                                                                                          My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.” 

                                                                                                                                  ― Robert Burns

from Tam o’Shanter

But pleasures are like poppies spread—

You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river—

A moment white—then melts forever.
Line 59

“And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!”
― Robert Burns

My Conversation With God – Guest Blog


My conversation with God 7/13/13

I don’t want to talk about the Treyvon Benjamin Martin story

Because it’s been told before        because I know how it ends

black boy      dead boy        no boy wins.

And you,

you were supposed to be watching

keeping him from harm.

His mother prayed and prayed    and

you said you would       she believed

you could

he was the one in the hood

and you just didn’t.

Maybe you looked away for a second

got distracted,

heard thousands calling your name

so much you couldn’t hear him

couldn’t decipher it from the voices

the noises,

maybe you confused it with a cheer

when the field goal was good,

or a hymn        that was really loud

maybe you didn’t like what he had to say

all young and un-educated like.

but really,

how long would it have taken,

how long did it take

for you to call

for him to leave,

join you,

be rewarded

such a short time

in your care.

Was it just too dark that night?  Was he just too dark that night?

They say he looked like all the others, “all the other punks that get away”.


 — a poem by Cj Coleman

Cj teaches in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, is a Western Pennsylvania Writing Project Fellow (U of Pittsburgh) and a member of Madwomen in the Attic (Carlow University)

Cj emailed me this poem and I found this photograph in my archives to accompany her words.

Hoodie Day March 30, 2012

 Hoodie Day March 30, 2012                 Pittsburgh Public Schools

Listen to Garrison Keillor Read Liane Ellison Norman’s Poem Today

Saturday morning I went to a wonderful poetry reading at Calvary Episcopal Church on Shady Avenue (in Pittsburgh). It was a grand crowd of friends, fellow poets and family. Jan Beatty gave a marvelous introduction and then Liane read poems from her book.   They had to get extra chairs! Afterwards there was lots of hot coffee and croissants, raspberries and blueberries and other delicious pastries. Her grandson helped sell the books and make change.

Liane Ellison Norman’s new poetry book is Breathing the West: Great Basin Poems.

On Monday December 3rd, one of her poems will be read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.  How cool is that?

Here’s the link so you can listen to the reading of Tree by Liane Ellison Norman.

Poet Liane Ellison Norman and her husband Bob

Poet Liane Ellison Norman and her husband Bob


DVD Screening Monday Night- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Many of you know my next career is filmmaker!   And on Monday 11/15 my second film will be screened.  The first one was Dorothy Holley: Quart Jar Poet. The doors open at 7.  The screening starts at 7:30 and the film is one hour in length.  Michael Wurster: The City Books Session. Simmons Hall (which is the basement)  Fifth Ave at Shady Avenue.  Light Refreshments. Free and open to the public. Filmed and edited by me.  A little shameless self-promotion.  Michael Wurster was one of the original founders of the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange and many people have taken classes from him.  He taught at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts for 18 years.  I filmed it over 4 years ago and am very glad to have completed the film.  You will hear him read a few of his poems and be interviewed by me.  If you are a former student you might want a copy of the DVD which will be on sale for $10. Michael is bringing copies of his latest book as well.  The British Detective.  Excellent music brings the film to life. Used with permission from songwriter Christopher Jones from his Heartland Variations CD.  Hope you can come.

Michael Wurster crossing 12th St at Carson on the South Side on the way to City Books for the interview.

Tribute Reading & Reception 9-18-10/Scroll Down for Information

Celebration of the Life of Christina Murdock

Tess created this bouquet for Joan when she hosted Book Club. Christina was a member of Book Club, too.

Christina Murdock

Christina Murdock was awarded the 2006 Sara Henderson Hay Prize from The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online, and her writing has been published in The 10th Floor Review, Collision, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Voices from the Attic and Pittsburgh CityPaper. She died in April just one week before her 30th birthday and is survived by her husband, Terry, and daughter, Sophia. A  tribute reading of her work will be held at 1:00-3:00  p.m. on Sept. 18 at Kresge Theater, Carlow University. Free and open to the public.   Sales of her book, Burying the Body,($12.95)  will benefit a scholarship fund for her daughter. Sponsored by Madwomen in the Attic, a creative writing group for women @ Carlow University.  If you would like to order a book let me know.

Night Light in Harmony, PA

Poetry Reading Bottlebrush Gallery Friday night.  The gallery has a special function on the Third Fridays. Thirty miles north of Pittsburgh, on the Washington Trail is Harmony PA. Timons Esaias and Ziggy Edwards members of Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange were two of the readers after the music.   Platters of  fancy cheese, salami & pickles, cranberry bread, Yuengling and Yellow Tail.  A full list of artists and craftspeople on the site- blown glass plates and Raku bowls, hanks of handspun /handdyed wool, jewelry , felted items, gorgeous shawls. art dolls. Furniture made from a walnut slab.  Hand dipped beeswax candles.  Maintain single lane. The Harmony Museum in the white brick after the gallery.

Available Light  small town  rural town. Harmony PA.  Washington went through this town

Bottlebrush Gallery & Shop The Harmony Museum just beyond on right, National Historic Landmark