Chapel Reading and Old PUP Friends

Shikallemy lookout, view of Northumberland where the North Branch of the Susquehanna meets the West Branch
A view of Northumberland, PA. Image credit: John Helwig

No, “old PUP friends” does not refer to some sort of senior citizen’s collar-and-leash fetish society. It’s a reference to a poetry reading series I used to attend in Lewisburg, PA at Faustina’s Art Gallery. Poetry Under the Paintings is the name of the group, and it perfectly describes what they do. They still gather every second Thursday to read poems, new and old, often original pieces, but frequently favorites by other poets whose work they adore.

This week they will collectively be the “guest reader” at another central Pennsylvania poetry group in Bloomsburg. The River Poets, who usually meet at the Bloomsburg Public Library on the first Thursday of each month, will be hosting the PUPs, and that always winds up being a wonderful evening. If you’re anywhere within driving distance you should go! More info on the River Poets at their site,  And you can follow my peeps, I mean PUPs, on Facebook by clicking here.

More about the PUPs in a moment. If you missed my last post about all the poetry events that I am involved with from the end of May to the end of June, you know that Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library has launched its spring/summer edition for 2018. It’s the 15th since 2009 and the 5th that I have been involved in. Since my new job takes up more of my time these days, I’ll be stepping back into more of an advisory role, but I must say that I have been deeply honored and incredibly lucky to have been at the helm these last two years and to have seen that magazine blossom into something national and global in scope, all the while maintaining its local/regional heart. Check out info about the new issue, and order your copy of Word Fountain here.

Next on the poetry-reading agenda is my visit tomorrow to the historic Joseph Priestley Memorial Chapel in Northumberland, PA. Now, I’m not a religious guy, and my divinity school days are decades behind me, but not to worry, this is not a religious service. The first Sunday of each month the chapel holds a secular service of music and the spoken word. They host a musician and a writer, usually a poet, with local/regional connections. And even though I now live two hours away, they have once again kindly asked me to be the featured poet for June. So I’ll be waking up dull and blurry (as apposed to bright and early) to be there for the reading at 9:30 am.

Front view of historic Joseph Priestly Memorial Chapel, Northumberland, PA
This little chapel is over 200 years old.

The reason I brought up the Poetry Under the Paintings group is that there is a significant overlap in the Unitarian Universalist congregation members who help maintain the separate historic chapel, and the crowd of poets who read at the Lewisburg art gallery about 15 minutes down the road. And gosh, I miss those people! In many ways I still see the Lewisburg/Northumberland area as my home. Around sixteen or seventeen years of my adult life were spent in that region, and I love going back. I’ll get to see some of the familiar faces from the videos below while I am there.

Beneath the PUP video, you’ll see a clip from my reading at the chapel in 2012, where I shared a poem that has now been published in Moons, Roads, and Rivers, my chapbook from December, published by Finishing Line Press. And I am hoping against hope to receive in the mail today my first batch of author copies of my new chapbook Angels & Adultery, just released from Seven Kitchens Press. I know I will have some kind, supporting buyers tomorrow. I’ll be reading from both chaps in any case.

I’ll also be reading a couple of selections from the book that Micah and I are working on. Micah is my youngest son and we are doing a joint project that you’ll be hearing more about in coming months. And he’ll be reading with me at the end of June in Poems at the Pub. More info on that in the previous post also.

Finally, here are some clips and good memories from my community at the chapel and the art gallery. And yes, that’s my beautiful and brilliant partner Brian at the keyboard. Bonus clip at the end of Brian playing piano at the chapel four years ago.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Dean Powers says:

    “Crossroads Song” is wonderful, and wonderfully read as usual.

    What a blessing it must be to have an accomplished pianist in your life. I’m thinking: poet + musician = songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! If only I were good at writing lyrics. 😦 But yes, I am a bit spoiled. Live music in our home all the time, and I end up taking it for granted. It’s good to remember how lucky I am.


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