Monday, March 30, 2020

Jayne Relaford Brown Poetry Reading Online On Zoom!

Join Us For A Virtual Poetry Reading!

April 2020 marks 22 years of Berks Bards' commitment to fostering poetry in Berks County! Annually in April, we celebrate National Poetry Month by holding Bard Fest, a series of poetry performances, open mics, workshops, and more! This year, we'd love to continue the tradition of celebrating Bard Fest in a new and modern way. In support of efforts to diminish the spread of COVID-19, we'll be hosting and sharing poetry virtually.
Join us on Zoom on April 9th, 2020 at 6 PM EST for a poetry reading by Berks County's Poet Laureate, Jayne Relaford Brown.

Jayne Relaford Brown is the author of My First Real Tree, a book of poems from FootHills Publications. Her poems have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies including BluelineCider Press Review and Alligator Juniper, and All We Know of Pleasure, and as the title poem in I Am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted. Her poem, “Finding Her Here,” has been widely distributed as a poster, translated into Mandarin and Russian, and was commissioned as a choral work by Anna Crusis Women’s Chorus.  Her poem “Ode to Hip-Hop” recently became a national finalist for the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize. Brown received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Poetry from San Diego State University, and taught college-level creative writing and composition full time until retiring from Penn State Berks in 2018. She is the current Poet Laureate of Berks County, Pennsylvania, and will hold the post until 2021.

Read a sample poem below:

All that longing caught between my knees—
to hold with my whole body, and release
the deep unspeakable of joy and grief,
not a lark transcending life in double-octave flight
toward a sound so high we strain to hear,
but here on earth, rib on ribs, the wood and flesh
vibrato of a rougher chest voice waking up the heart,
a trembling call for all that’s cavernous to hum.

All I want is one long note, to pull the bow across
the tautened nerve sustained enough to touch
a tenor deeper than my puny words can reach.
And even with my heavy hand that makes the strung hairs
growl like guttered clearing of the throat, even the ragged tremolo
of clumsy fingers struggling on heavy strings
is part of saying, “Here, here’s the hollow place,
the pulsing emptiness from which the beauty pours.”

Published in Alligator Juniper

Here's how to join us & Jayne Relaford Brown online on April 9th:
  • Go to
  •  If required, please enter the Meeting ID 759 062 6042
  • You may download Zoom on your mobile device, or join from your browser on your laptop/computer
  • As a courtesy, please mute your microphone when not speaking.
Thank you for your continued support of Berks Bards! We hope to see you there!

Your friends at Berks Bards

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Sunday, March 29 — A Reflective Poetry Workshop: Hindsight is 2020 at Barrio Alegría.

Through Pen Street: City of Poems, a community project funded by the Berks County Community Foundation, Barrio Alegría is offering a reflective poetry workshop in late March.

Hindsight is 2020: A Poetry Workshop 
Taught by Joshua Surita

Date & Time: Sunday, March 29 from 4-6 pm
Location: Barrio Alegría @ 140 North 5th Street, 2nd Floor, Reading, PA 19601
Details: Open to all ages; free with donations welcome

See more information about this event on Facebook. Also, see Barrio Alegría on Instagram.