HOWARD – The fascinating history of 19th century local women will come to life in March with presentations from Ridgelines Language Arts “What the Gaps Reveal” an afternoon poetry workshop and evening reading led by poet Julie Swarstad Johnson on March 27 at the historic Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village in Howard.
Along with Women’s History Month, these two events are part of Ridgelines’ ongoing Roots and Blooms series that serves the creative needs of female-identifying, non-binary writers in central Pennsylvania. Registration is required for the afternoon workshop which runs from 2-4 p.m. and can be found at ridgelineslanguagearts.org/events.
Poetry reading starts at 6 p.m. The reading is open to the public and invites listeners curious about central Pennsylvania’s history as a steel region and those who enjoy listening to the words of women.
Guest poet Julie Swarstad Johnson is a former resident of central Pennsylvania who earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Penn State University. She currently works as an archivist at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Johnson will teach and read from “Pennsylvania Furnace”, his first book of poems based on extensive research conducted in the woods and historical archives of central Pennsylvania.
Johnson explains that during the afternoon workshop, “we will practice listening to the many voices that tell us about the history of a particular place: the little pages of a woman’s diary, the wooden-soled shoes of a workman, the stones of a furnace and the earth itself. Participants will travel the field and learn about the experiences of women in 19th century ironmaking communities, and write in response to what we encounter. No prior knowledge of local history or writing is necessary; we will learn and explore together during this generative workshop with pen and paper in hand.”
Philip Ruth, board member of the Roland Curtin Foundation, explains that, “The history of Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village is so long and rich that our tour guides have their hands full trying to convey essential information about the founding and evolution of the site. There is usually no time to delve deeply into the life stories and experiences of the hundreds of men, women and children who have lived and worked here for over a century. In this workshop and reading, Julie will give us the opportunity to hear voices and imagine scenes from the past on a more personal and intimate basis, conveyed even more powerfully through poetic sensitivity and expression.
Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village are currently going through a difficult transition, as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recently determined that it should divest itself of the site, along with its administrative and maintenance funding.
One of the ways Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village can move forward and be assured for the future is through support, expressed through event attendance, tours and financial contributions.
Ridgelines Language Arts is proud to support this important local historic site through this Roots and Blooms event. Roots and Blooms is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in part by the Center Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Ridgelines provides specialized language arts training to those whose voices are heard in the ridges and valleys of central Pennsylvania. Through courses, readings, publications, and radio podcasts, they empower new language artists and ensure that the language arts in our region are strong with many voices, experiences, and imaginations.