Wordsmiths Poetry Series


Courtesy of Bucks.edu

Jeff Tuffner

A tradition will continue on Friday Sept. 24, when the Wordsmiths Poetry Series event takes place at Bucks County Community College’s Newtown campus, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Tyler Hall, 142.
This event will take place in-person this year for the first time since 2019. In the event of the pandemic, last year’s event was conducted virtually. If those interested in attending are unable to be there in person or are hesitant about jumping back into the in-person world, there is no need to worry; the event will also be streamed via Zoom (registration link is in poster at right), assuring everyone can take part.
The history of the Wordsmiths Poetry Series and Bucks is longstanding, stemming all the way back to the 1960s. According to Ethel Rackin, a professor at Bucks and the director of the Wordsmiths Reading Series and Poet Laureate Program, the early years of the event have featured an abundance of notable names including Allen Ginsberg, the writer of famous works like “Howl” and “Kaddish,” and Nikki Giovanni, the writer of “VOTE.”
In the ‘70s, names like Gary Snyder, who wrote “Regarding Wave,” and Adrienne Rich, the creator of the “The Will to Change” poetry collection, had presence at the event.
If these original poets’ names don’t ring a bell, then some who’ve been featured most recently might. Those include Mark Doty, who wrote the “My Alexandria” collection of poems, and Jericho Brown, the writer of “The Tradition” poetry collection.
At this year’s proceeding, two poets will be on hand; Mary Jo LoBello Jerome, a 2019 Bucks County Poet Laureate, as well as Felicia Zamora, an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Cincinnati.
LoBello Jerome, a writer of many short stories and poems, has had work appear in Poets Reading the News, Literary North, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and other publications. She also has written for The New York Times. Educationally, she has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College. At this moment, LoBello Jerome is “working on her first full-length poetry collection,” Rackin mentions.
Zamora, an experienced poet herself, has written six different poetry stories. The various stories written by Zamora have led to many awards and recognitions. Some of those include the 2020 Iowa Poetry Prize for “I Always Carry My Bones” and the 2020 C.P. Cavafy Prize awarded from Poetry International, according to her professional biography on Frontier Poetry.
When asked about what the event itself will entail and how the proceedings will occur, Rackin said “The reading will run for about an hour and will include a question and answer session. It will be followed by a book signing where you can meet and interact with the authors.”
To take part, being an expert or avid reader of poetry isn’t required. Whether you live and breathe poetry or have never read a poem in your life, the Wordsmiths Poetry Series event is open to all people.
“Students are sometimes wary about attending these events, especially if they haven’t been to a poetry reading before, but they are surprised at how relaxing and fun the events actually are. There’s no pressure to do anything other than kick-back and enjoy the performance,” Rackin said when encouraging those unaware or skeptical to consider attending.