Bucks’ Wordsmiths: The Work of Tsering Wangmo and Julie Cooper Fratrik


Photo courtesy of Hannah Boscola

Hannah Boscola, Centurion staff

Oct. 21, – Bucks’ historic Tyler Hall filled with quiet excitement as the public gathered to share their passion for poetry, welcoming a former poet laureate back to the stage.

Bucks students, past and present poets laureate, and literature enthusiasts stirred inside the mansion, escaping the cold Oct. chill in anticipation for Bucks County Community College’s longstanding tradition, the Wordsmiths Series.

The atmosphere turned warm as people kindly greeted one another, shuffling off their coats in the process. Established Wordsmiths host and Bucks Literature Professor Ethel Rackin took to the microphone to welcome new and familiar faces to the reading.

The crowd welcomed professor and author, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, and former Bucks County Poet Laureate, Julie Cooper Fratrik, who both shared several readings of poetry.

Fratrik, winner of an Achievement Grant from The Leeway Center in Philadelphia and of the first Robert Fraser Poetry Award, commenced the event with her piece “Universal Poem.”

Fratrik’s poetry takes listeners on a romp through a garden of “holistic, earthy, and other worldly delights,” Rackin mused. Fratrik takes inspiration from her own life when writing, referencing the daily wonders that come from living and the plenitude of nature.

Fratrik, who says she loves Bucks, read award winning poems, “Jars with pollen from buttercup, dandelion, pine (2), moss”, “Milkstone”, and “Six ships in beeswax, wood construction.”

Fratrik’s books include The Space of Appearances, Breathing Lessons, and Further Lovely Lettuce Lore. She has published book chapters in Tupelo Press Quarterly and Under the Sun, and poems in Fourth Genre, Rhino, The American Poetry Review, and many more acclaimed institutions.

Following up Fratrik’s performance, Dhompa then shared several pieces. These included works from her poetry books “My Rice Tastes Like the Lake” and “In the Absent Everyday”, as well as her unnamed on-going project.

Dhompa’s poetry “quietly and confidently carves out a space for questioning, contemplation, mediation, and wisdom,” said Rackin.

Born in India, Dhompa was raised in the Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal. She currently teaches in the English Department at Villanova University.

Dhompa’s first non-fiction book, “Coming Home to Tibet”, was published in the US by Shambhala Publications in 2016 and by Penguin, India in 2014.

Dhompa brought the readings to a successful conclusion, sharing “the edges of the wound shrink over time around a scar, that, like maps, tell an incomplete story.”

Guests chatted with the two visionary poets during the book-signing and the dessert reception that followed.

“The Wordsmiths series places Bucks County Community College at the center of the region’s literary life,” says the Language and Literature Department at Bucks.

The next Wordsmith Series will be held on Nov. 13 at Bucks County Community College in Newtown featuring Bucks County 2022 Poet Laureate Tom Mallouk. The event is free, and no registration is needed.