Hill School’s Erik Mortenson publishes award-winning poetry chapbook

Because April is “National Poetry Month,” Hill’s own  published, award-winning  poet Erik Mortenson is celebrating by sharing a poem a day with The Hill community, something he did last year and is continuing this year.

Courtesy of The Hill School
Courtesy of The Hill School

Erik recently published an award-winning chapbook, The Fifteenth Station (Accents Publishing.) All proceeds from the book will go toward supporting Rwandan women and children with HIV/AIDS.

The Hill’s website describes Erik’s poetry project and the inspiration for it in more detail here, but here are some snippets to whet your literary appetite:

“Mortenson has published a chapbook of poems that share the wrenching sadness, isolation, and physical suffering experienced by an impoverished young African woman with AIDS. The structure for the 15 poems, collectively titled The Fifteenth Station, mirrors the 14 Stations of the Cross that appear in Roman Catholic churches to commemorate the final hours of Jesus Christ.

“Mortenson – who writes as E.K. Mortenson – began conducting extensive research for this project in 2009, delving into religious imagery, medical reports from the World Health Service, and cultural background, all of which he synthesized into poems written in several different voices, primarily that of the woman with AIDS. Each poem (or “station”) advances and flows into the next….

“Late last summer, when The Fifteenth Station won the Judge’s Choice award in the Accents 2012 Poetry Chapbook Contest, Mortenson donated his modest prize money to Partners in Health and pledged to also donate every penny of his chapbook sales profits. To his delight, his publisher, Accents Publishing, has agreed to match his prize money and contribute 50 percent of its own profits from the chapbook sales to Partners in Health.

“‘In the small poetry press world — where presses operate on, at best, a shoestring budget — this is virtually unheard of,’ Mortenson says. ‘This is a most gracious gift.’

“Furthermore, Zachary Lehman, Headmaster of The Hill School, promised to match Mortenson’s prize money on behalf of the School. His offer ties in well with the theme established for students for The Hill’s 2012-13 school year, “What can I do?”

“‘Although the contributions themselves are small, I am hoping to create a groundswell of concern,” Mortenson says. “The book is $5. That’s like, what? A large cup of coffee at Starbuck’s? Now half of that money will go to women and children who need it most.'”

Congratulations to Erik for getting his work published and using his poetry to educate and inspire compassion for others!

WPAZ hosts “A Night for Japan”


On Saturday, March 26th WPAZ will be part of a multi-station donation drive to benefit the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and aftermath in Japan. The show runs from 4pm-12 midnight Eastern at 1370AM and STREAMING LIVE at http://www.wpazradio.com/. You can see details at A Night for Japan Facebook page.

Other stations participating will be:
— Woody Radio http://www.woodyradio.com/ (out of Canada) 1pm – 1am Eastern
— Pop Garden Radio http://www.popgardenradio.com/ (AM1300 WMEL, out of Cocoa, FL) 8pm – Midnight Eastern
— The Time Machine http://www.manaoradio.com/ (out of Maui, HI) 8pm – 11pm Eastern
— Twirl Radio http://twirlradio.com/ (out of Sacramento, CA) 7pm – 9pm eastern

WPAZ will be urging listeners to donate to a number of different charities. A full list of charities will be posted before the show airs, and you can donate either online or via telephone.

They will have local musicians and poets submit music and poetry, and have a few live performances as well. Many of these artists have recorded songs just for this program. Everyone is welcome to contribute music, thoughts, and prayers to the evening. Call 610.326.4000 or email wpaz@wpazradio.com

You can email or call during the show to let them know that you’ve donated, and they’ll read your name on the air. WPAZ is a REAL COMMUNITY RADIO for the WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY, helping our neighbors in need!

On Tap This Weekend

If you’re looking for something entertaining and uplifting to do this weekend, here are some arts and cultural happenings in Pottstown to check out.

Celebrating Sondheim runs this weekend only at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center. In celebration of the incomparable American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, Village Productions invites you to a Valentine’s Weekend performance of favorite songs featuring Sondheim’s unique take on romance and relationships. Shows take place Friday & Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets range from $13-$17 and are available here. (Parental guidance suggested due to themes about relationships.)

The Winter Member Show at The Gallery on High is running now through March 19. The Gallery’s hours are Tuesday-Friday 10am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am-3pm (closed Sunday and Monday.) The Gallery is located at 254 E. High Street in a fully restored Victorian building in the center of Pottstown’s historical district. The Gallery offers contrasting styles of media for even the most discriminating collector and represents local and national artists with established reputations and new and upcoming artists. Please call 610-326-2506 or email info@galleryonhigh for more information.

Saturday night at 7 pm, check out poet Ray Brown in the Otherwise-Poetry series at Churchill Artisan Baker & Chocolatier, 137 E. High Street (484-941-5100). The evening is hosted by Glenn McLaughlin. Ray Brown’s poetry will be followed by an open mic. Get your verse on!

On Sunday, Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., Emmanuel Lutheran will be the venue for a Valentines-themed concert presented by wonderful professional ensemble called “CANTATICA”. The concert is entitled “Love Songs: A Valentines Celebration”, and will feature choral and vocal works from many different styles including: classical, celtic, latin, opera, folk, and jazz. One of the featured soloists is Toni Marie Palmertree (soprano) who lives right here in Pottstown. Tickets: $14 Adults; $12 seniors; $6 students. Tickets available at the door. Info. info@cantatica.org; 484-951-5113

And if you want to support Boy Scout Troop 129 before you go out on Saturday night, Feb. 12, they’re holding an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner from 4-7 pm at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Hanover & Walnut Streets. MENU INCLUDES: Spaghetti in Sauce, Meatballs, Salad, Coffee, Tea, Milk and Dessert. Adults – $7.00; Seniors/Kids (7-13) – $5.00; Children 6 and under – FREE; Tickets Sold at Door.

Dirge for Two Veterans by Walt Whitman

Dirge for Two Veterans
(from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman)

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.


I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.


For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;
(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)


O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.


The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Walt Whitman was an American poet, who has been called the “Poet of Democracy” and “America’s Shakespeare.” He lived from 1819-1892. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote several editions of the poetry collection Leaves of Grass. It is personal as well as political, reflecting the growth of the nation.

I admire Whitman not only for his poetry, but for his empathetic nature and the way he acted on his convictions. During the Civil War, when he heard that his brother was injured, he went to Washington, D.C. to look for him. When he saw the number of suffering and wounded, he stayed on, serving as a volunteer nurse, making over 600 visits to military hospitals to care for them. To learn more about him, click here. Sometimes you have to put down the pen, or push away from the keyboard, and get out in the world and do what needs to be done.

To hear “Taps,” click here.

Everybody’s working for the weekend…

It’s Friday and that tune and lyrics from the 1980s Canadian band Loverboy are stuck in my head, and now you, too, can sing (or suffer) along with me!

Here’s some of what’s on tap for the weekend. If anyone’s got more, feel free to add to the list.

Oh, I also have to make a plug for the YWCA Women’s Festival of the Arts, which ends tomorrow at The Gallery on High. I was at the opening last weekend, and it was packed. I got three small, beautiful paintings done by local artist Fay Talley. I hope to track her down for an interview. I’ll pick up my paintings this weekend and post some photos in a couple days. A portion of all sales benefits the YWCA; maybe there’s something there that your mom will enjoy? Stop by to take a look around before it’s too late! The show ends tomorrow!


April 30-May 8YWCA Women’s Festival of the Arts
Location: The Gallery on High, 254 E. High St.
Opening Reception: 6-8pm, Friday, April 30

May7-9Melange Contemporary Dance: So You Think You Can Dance!
Location: Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street
Time: Friday & Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 3 pm
Cost: Adult $17; Senior/Student $15; Child (12 & under) $13

May 7Camp Hill Fundraiser Dinner Dance – Tennis Ball
Location: Sunnybrook Ballroom
Time: 6:30 pm
Band: Jump City Jazz Orchestra

May 8 Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company 2010-2011 Season Auditions
Location: Pottstown Dance Theater
Time: 12-3 pm
For further information: thesvrdc@yahoo.com or 484.941.0683

May 8Otherwise-Poetry at Churchill’s featuring Jules Gibbs & Bruce Smith
Location: Churchill Artisan Baker & Chocolatier, 137 High Street
Time: 7 pm
Host: Glenn McLaughlin (featured readings followed by open mic)


Wow. I had the sense that there was plenty going on, but until I tried to put together a calendar, I didn’t realize just how much.

Maintaining a calendar & putting in all the links is – um – kind of a lot of work. I don’t know if I have the stamina for it… but WAIT!

The Pottstown Arts & Cultural Alliance is going to be unveiling its new website in the very near future, and they’re going to have a calendar, so maybe the calendar here can just serve as a temporary clearinghouse until the PACA page comes along? For now, here you go…

April 22-25A Night of David Ives One-Acts
Location: Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street
Times & Tickets:
Friday, Apr. 23 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, Apr. 24 – 8:00 pm
Sunday, Apr. 25 – 3:00 pm
ADULT: Thurs $15; Fri, Sat & Sun $17
STUDENT/SENIOR(65+): Thurs $13; Fri, Sat, Sun $15
CHILD (12 & under): Thurs $11; Fri, Sat & Sun $13
$2 off per ticket for groups of 10 or more!

April 23 – DJ Bruce Miller, dance to sounds of 50s, 60s, 70s
Location: Sunnybrook Ballroom, Colonial Room
Time: 8-11pm, doors open 7:45 pm
Cover: $5
Age: Over 21

April 24Rian Wallace 4th Annual Goals Over Obstacles Football Clinic
Location: PHS Grigg Memorial Field, 750 N. Washington St.
Time: 10 am – 4 pm
Cost: Free
Register: GoalsOverObstacles@gmail.com

April 24Wondabubba and the Big Splash
Location: Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street
Time: 11 am and 3 pm
Tickets: ADULT: $8, Children: $5, Senior/Student: $8
Age: Recommended for grades K-3

April 24Singer Songwriter Showcase
Location: Churchill Artisan Baker & Chocolatier, 137 High Street
Time: Every Saturday, see schedule & performers here

April 25Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Co. Fundraiser
Location: Limerick Bowl
Time: 2-4 pm
Cover: $15 (includes shoes, ball, raffle ticket)

April 30-May 8YWCA Women’s Festival of the Arts
Location: The Gallery on High, 254 E. High St.
Opening Reception: 6-8pm, Friday, April 30

April 30Emily’s Toy Box
Location: The Brick House, 152 E High Street
Time:10 p.m.

May 1Pottstown’s First Saturday
Location: Smith Family Plaza, 100 High Street
Time: 10 am – 2 pm

Children’s activities, vendors, flea market, live entertainment
10-11– SwingKat swing & salsa demonstration
11-12 – High Street Music Showcase
12-2 – Gene Galligan

Be a part of “Car-Art” and help paint a 1949 Buick!

Compete in “Project Art-cycle” alone or bring a team. Register for this event by April 28th. You bring art supplies. On May 1st, you’ll be given a kit of recycled materials to use in your sculpture, plus an optional bonus item. Work from 10am-1pm, then let the judges do their job! Register at info@galleryonhigh.com

May 2 – Polka Gala featuring the Polka Family Band and Ray Jay & the Carousels
Location: Sunnybrook Ballroom
Time: noon-8 pm
Cover: $15 in advance; $20 at the door

May 2 Sunday in the Park Music Series featuring Neighbor Poem
Location: Riverfront Park amphitheater, College Drive, Pottstown
Time: 2-4 pm
Cover: Free.

May 2Kinnara Choral Ensemble
Location: Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Time: 7:30 pm
Cover: Free. (A free-will offering will be collected.)

May 5Wine After Five Celebrates Cinco de Mayo
Location: Gallery School, 254 E. High St.
Time: 6:30 pm
Cover: $45, fundraiser. Must purchase tix before April 30.

May 8Otherwise-Poetry at Churchill’s featuring Jules Gibbs & Bruce Smith
Location: Churchill Artisan Baker & Chocolatier
137 High Street
Time: 7 pm
Host: Glenn McLaughlin (featured readings followed by open mic)

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