Poetry First Fridays at the Ragged Edge in Gettysburg
When I hear the word “quaint,” I think—small town, ton of store fronts, traffic circle, outdoor restaurants, history, families, dogs. I think—Gettysburg. And when I think Gettysburg, I don’t always think of poetry. But at the Ragged Edge Coffee House, poetry readings have been happening just about every first Friday since 2005.
The Ragged Edge is not just a coffee shop, but a true coffee house. There are three dining areas, a beautiful back garden, an art gallery, and an upstairs stage complete with comfy chairs and couches—perfect for monthly poetry readings.
The team that currently runs the Ragged Edge reading series, Gary Ciocco, Katy Giebenhain, and Marty Malone, decided to take July and August off, but they’re back on the 5th of September with featured poet Dan Vera. A few months ago Tyler and I saw Vera feature at the Lancaster Poetry Exchange, where he proved himself to be personable and touching, performing poems filled with the curiosities of growing up in a bilingual household.
Like any good reading, the Ragged Edge series is regular, dependable, and thrives with newcomers. The readings are always on a Friday and always start at 7. We dropped by back in June to check things out, read our work during the open mic, and felt incredibly welcome—like we’d been regular attendees for years.
We caught up with the three poets working to keep the series alive in Gettysburg to ask a few quick questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- Why is community important?
- What benefits do regular, free, open readings have for a community of writers?
“It is a chance to bring poets to the community to share their work here and, in turn, to have the poets experience Ragged Edge hospitality and to know that the spoken word is alive in Gettysburg. We also like that it a free, public event and that it happens downtown on First Friday as part of other arts offerings.”
“I’d say that we all believe (I think) that poetry is something that needs to be heard as well as seen. Good poems work on the ear not just the eye, and poets need the opportunity to hear how their work sounds. It is important to provide a venue for poets to share their work with an interested public and communities are enriched by having these kinds of programs where the spoken word can be enjoyed in an informal, friendly, and encouraging environment. More and more people are writing and reading poetry and it is valuable for all of us to get to meet and enjoy each other’s work.”
“I love poetry and loved the informal setting of the Ragged Edge, coupled with the great poetry I usually heard there as a regular from 2005 to 2013. So I jumped at the chance to be a part of hosting it last year. The events have always been eclectic, open, and egalitarian. We are trying to be both local and regional in our scope of features, and want everyone to know that they can express themselves there. We love our place in Gettysburg, and also relish the opportunities, especially as a trio of hosts, to connect with other groups, venues, and poets in PA and beyond.
Dana Larkin Sauers, Hanover’s second Poet Laureate had a few thoughts to share as well, as the series began in 2005 during her tenure:
“The Hanover poet Michael Hoover was already facilitating an impressively attended reading at Reader’s Cafe in Hanover, and I wanted to expand the venues in South Central PA. It was a delightful start as my son, watercolorist Adrian Sauers was the art director at RE. I would run the readings upstairs, and he would exhibit visual arts downstairs. We shared the wine, enthusiasm and other goodies. The venue existed from 2005-2014 non-stop under my direction except for six months of repairs due to the shop’s second fire. I then turned it over to my dear friends and ardent supporters Katie, Gary and Marty. As a life long educator and former PL, my desire and accomplishment was to create a safe space for all people to assemble and share their creative selves. I was always pleased with the diversity of age, experience, education and style that were represented.”
Don’t miss the next Ragged Edge Poetry Reading, featuring Dan Vera, on September 5th from 7-9 PM. The event is free with an open mic from 7-8 PM. Hope to see you there (110 Chambersburg St, Gettysburg, PA 17325)!
Katy Giebenhain is Associate Director of Communications at Gettysburg Seminary. Her MPhil in creative writing is from University of South Wales (Glamorgan). Poems and prose have appeared in The London Magazine, Tokens for the Foundlings, Bordercrossing Berlin, Saint Katherine Review, Appalachian Journal, Water ̃Stone Review, Little Patuxent Review, Bellevue Literary Review and elsewhere. She lives in Gettysburg.
Gary Ciocco teaches philosophy and political science at Gettysburg College, HACC and other colleges. He has had poems published in several journals, including Seminary Ridge Review, Shadowtrain, National Catholic Reporter and Backbone Mountain Review. He lives with his family in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and regularly travels near and far to hear and read the spoken word.
Martin Malone teaches at Mount Saint Mary’s University. His poems have appeared in Dream International Quarterly, Lighted Corners, The Monocacy Valley Review, Scribble and The Seminary Ridge Review. He lives in Gettysburg, PA. with his wife Jane.