Poetry served in heaping portions at Greencastle coffee shop

October 30, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A dozen area residents gathered around for the love of poetry on a recent Friday evening.

They listened to and discussed works by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mary Oliver, as well as their own poetry, while sipping hot drinks at Cup O' Joe, a warm, homey coffee shop in Greencastle.

With its sofa, ice cream parlor-style tables and chairs, hardwood floor and the aroma of specialty coffee, Cup O' Joe seems an ideal setting for the every-other-month gatherings.

The theme for Friday's meeting was peace, although some of the poems pertained to the season.

John and Suzanne Gamble of Greencastle, who founded the Greencastle Council for the Arts 20 years ago, led the meeting. The readings are a function of the Arts Council, and are free and open to all.


John Gamble, a retired art teacher, said that sometimes Cup O' Joe is so full for the poetry readings that people sit on the floor.

"We never know who's going to read what," he said. "But there will be some interesting connections before the evening is over, it always happens.

"We run the gamut from ridiculous to sublime," he added.

Not everyone in the "poetry crowd" writes poetry; some read works by other poets, and some just listen. What they have in common is a love for language and an appreciation of the sound of poetry and the skill necessary to create it.

Suzanne Gamble writes poetry, and said she is often surprised how many people read their original poetry at the meetings.

People sometimes come in for a cup of coffee, then hang around and listen, she added.

Bob and Jean Davis of Chambersburg, Pa., with children Cory, 11, and Becky, 16, attended for the first time.

Cory Davis read two original poems, a tongue twister called "Peaceful People," and a poem "Peaceful," which detailed the things that give him peace, such as petting his rabbit and riding in the car.

Becky Davis also read two poems about peace, one untitled, and one called "Angel's Tears," which employs powerful imagery.

Both Davis children are home-schooled. Becky said she has been writing poetry since she was 8, and works in spurts. She said it's a matter of getting the idea and using the right words. She started "Angel's Tears" as a haiku, then changed it to its present format.

Jean Davis said her daughter "disappeared into the bedroom and came back out with that. It's one of the best ones she's ever done."

Regulars Eliane Ambrose of Waynesboro, Pa., and Becky Dietrich of Mont Alto, Pa., read selections from their own works. Ambrose shared a poem she wrote to help her deal with her "most painful day" which occurred in June when her 39-year-old son-in-law collapsed and died, and she had a heart attack.

Dietrich read a poem she wrote to keep awake while on a trip to the Midwest with her family in 1957. Her poetry is highly visual, and employs precise description. But then, she's an artist, as are Ambrose and John Gamble.

Suzanne Gamble read one she had written a few days ago, on the Beatification of Mother Teresa. To tie in with Halloween, she then read Poe's "The Conqueror Worm," which was probably frightening when it was written in 1843, but "by today's standards is not too gross," she said.

Steve and Jodi Carbaugh purchased Cup O' Joe this past August, and said of hosting the poetry readings: "It's great. We love it."

The next poetry reading will be Friday, Jan. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cup O' Joe, 21 E. Baltimore St.

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