paths i have walkedpoetry reading

Recurring Themes, “Paths I Have Walked”, and My First Poetry Reading

paths i have walkedpoetry reading

Post card for “Paths I Have Walked”

This poetry reading was my first ever, held at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall (ACFL&MH). It was combined with an art exhibit in the same room that helped, literally, to illustrate the theme.

Paths I Have Walked

The Poetry and Art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Thursday, February 1, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Andrew Carnegie Free Library Reception Hall, Carnegie

ON THE POST CARD (above): Dusk in the Woods, pastel, 2006, a scene in the woods near the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township, PA.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ve probably seen that “Paths I Have Walked” theme in other events, a painting, my poetry book, and throughout my “Seasons of the Panhandle Trail” exhibits. If you subscribe to my quarterly nature and wildlife newsletter you may also recognize the design of the header in the design of this post card.

And you’ve certainly seen plenty of “Dusk in the Woods”. I had painted it just the year before, it was the natural choice to accompany this poetry reading, and that was what gave me the idea to include an art exhibit with my poetry reading.

The program, “Paths I Have Walked: the Poetry and Art of Bernadette Kazmarski” featured selected poetry and paintings inspired by and depicting the beauty of the local landscapes of Carnegie and the trails and byways along Chartiers Creek and throughout the Chartiers Valley, paths I’ve been literally walking since I began to walk, both on land and in my creative life.

Carnegie Park Dawn, pastel, 6 x 6, 2004 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers. Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania and Dogwoods were those two poems and they were included in this poetry reading.

I divided my poetry into three categories: Purely Descriptive, In the Moment, and Metaphor. It seemed fitting to have a brand new poem to introduce at this poetry reading, and that too began a tradition, with Wild Apples.

Wild Apples

At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Stands trailside,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.

From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Months before,
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.

Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.

"Paths I Have Walked" poetry book.

“Paths I Have Walked” poetry book.

This show was the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year for the next four years I was invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork, and then several times after that, but the content of those first four poetry readings inspired me to self-publish the readings in a book, Paths I Have Walked, of course, also available on this site, though I’m currently reprinting it. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

Building the sites for each of my early poetry readings was also a big deal for me. I designed many websites years ago, and I really enjoyed it, though not so much the maintenance, but I was happy to create portfolio pieces for my own promotion. Click on the image below to read all the poems and see a selection of the artwork included.

A screenshot of the Paths I Have Walked site.

Other items with the same art or design To find all items on this site with the same art or design, use the search box for the name of the artwork and you'll find all that's available.

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