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"Life is poetry. I didn't know that until I stepped into this class."  G.O., a writer of Being Heard

Being Heard is a poetry writing program that honors the voices and imaginations of central Pennsylvania’s low-income older adults. Participants write collaboratively, share stories, study poetry together, and put their minds to everything from farmhouses, chickadees, city streets, and the night sky to questions about heaven and death, immigration and American identity, disability and deity, art and love.

Each program culminates with a poetry chapbook, colorful poetry posters, and with a public reading and celebration. Being Heard was selected as one of four “Best of the Best” projects in the commonwealth from among the 1,175 projects funded by the PA Council on the Arts between 2013-2016. 



By The Being Heard Writer’s Group at Salem Hill Haven

Spring Mills, PA 2017

In the afternoon I watched

six or eight wild turkeys. They were

very perceptive—they watched, they sensed

that they’re hunted. They were the color

of dreary weather. They had their own language—

gobble, gobble, gobble—a world

of their own. The males had long feather beards.

Strutting, they hopped along.

They nest in the trees at night. When they get scared,

they scatter. To get together again,

the male calls them—perk, perk, perk.

When they flew away, it was like a light thunder.


By the Being Heard Writer's Group at Centre Crest

Bellefonte, PA 2016

Irises bright

delicate purple and white

ugly pods

Smooth, with a jagged

top, the shell is hollow, brown,

with shades of purple.

Summer morning—

leg bone, teeth

marks, lying in the field.

End of May, irises, I’m

sitting in a wheelchair. Had

an explosion in my brain.

Spring morning—

purple and white irises

delicately blowing in the breeze

older adults write poetry in central PA


By Jim McKinley, Steve Fink, & Keith Dowdy

The Being Heard Writer's Group at Centre Crest

Bellefonte, PA 2017

Is the title of one of Edward Hopper’s

paintings. Hopper could have called it,

“Edward Hopper’s First Painting,” for it’s full

of mistakes, like an old western

with an airplane flying by. Or maybe

he was just trying to Twilight Zone us

with the unlined bricks which are too red

and the green road, with the light

that’s coming from every direction.

If you don’t see the people, it looks like a fireplace

with a fire going out. There should be

no black like that—you should either be able

to see a reflection or see

clearly through.

Three men wearing hats, one

in a soda jerk’s uniform

fixing coffee. One read-headed

woman in a pink dress who looks

like a floozy. Why are they out

so late? When I close my eyes, I see her going home

with one of them. I see

the soda jerk cleaning up. I see him turning

off the lights. I feel the cool

late night autumn air, and then

the slow sun, turning the street orange.

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Being Heard is supported in part by the PA Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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