Germantown Poetry Project

This page offers a chance to look back at the work that was created as a part of Network's Germantown Poetry Project. Below you can find audio and video from our April concerts, new poems by Trapeta B. Mayson and Frank Sherlock, as well as community-devised poems from our fall 2016 workshops. Performances feature the Network Ensemble and guest artists Maren Montalbano - mezzo-soprano | Randall Scarlata - baritone.

Network Ensemble:

Jan Krzywicki - Conductor
Matthew Levy - Saxophone
Diane Monroe - Violin
Brent Edmondson - Bass
Eric Derr - Drums/Percussion


April 8, 2017
Parkway Central Library, Philadelphia, PA

April 9, 2017
Joseph E. Coleman NW Regional Library, Philadelphia, PA



Fall 2016 Workshops

Joseph E. Coleman NW Regional LIbrary

Poetry written for Concert Music

Collaboration between community members and poets

My Town, Germantown - Trapeta B. Mayson
G-Town Love - Trapeta B. Mayson
Remember & Imagine Need Not Be Two Separate Actions - Frank Sherlock
Here & In Our Smaller Buildings - Frank Sherlock


Workshop Poetry

Fall In Germantown

written by participants on 11/20 with Trapeta B. Mayson

The seasons are changing as you can see
The pine cones and falling leaves on Maplewood Mall
The visual cornucopia of it all
the cold, rustled, breezy wind pushing us back so hard
we look like ducks trying to go up a mountain
Shades of cranberry, mustard, rust and mandarin
Autumn's magnificent super moon - so colorful

Wilting leaves usher in thanks and giving across our nation
Scarlet flamingo socks warm our feet and seat
So too does the warmth of the many people we meet

Fall in Germantown reminds me of sunshine
The star shines bright
There's a sparkle in the air
The leaves fall faster than I can sweep
I am covered in it from head to toe
As the wind whistles, I hear a roar
A welcome bellow - telling me
I am home for Thanksgiving

Neighborhood News

written by participants on 11/15 with Frank Sherlock

Autumn has fallen with leaves from trees
Is Germantown dying like
the demise of Germantown High?
The new supermarket is more
upscale than the customers are
Cold is approaching

Panic is a stage of grief but
we still take refuge in music
A student has forgotten her bow
She needs to know that I'm starting
my life as a human shield
I grab a broom and rake the leaves

Remember/Imagine II

written by participants on 11/13 with Frank Sherlock

All windows open
breathe that city air
The clanging bell from the
new G-Town trolley announces
my arrival to my professor's house
with Starbucks and pie
Languid summer hi-hat
strolling in the park
Empty lot? Why not a garden
or a forest with a pool
in the middle to float
through the days we have


Germantown Stew

written by participants on 11/8 with Trapeta B. Mayson

I am a clarified glaze, steeped and
steamed, folded and dissolved

The beat slowly transforms from
computer dust, to an aroma
only the ears can sense

The searing sizzle of a steamy
afternoon in Vernon Park

Germantown, battered in brotherly love,
peeled out as hope, roasted in history

Folded into the drizzle of life,
each different, alive, whipped,
sweet zesty, stuff of life, food

that's what life is all about YOU
A mixture of all the things you do

I like to drizzle liquid on clothes

I love the blend of jazz and vocals
Enjoying the Love and Poetry
of Germantown locals

Marinate the noodles with a
rich creamy sauce -
What a delightful aroma

The swift smell flowing thru

Flying home with my baby
while eating cobbler baked brown

I want to bring a roux of love to you

I'm from...

written by participants on 11/6 with Trapeta B. Mayson

I'm from: Eugene + Freddy Boy

From southern Sunday dinners
with Aunt Jamill + potato salad
and cornbread

From neighborhood games of
Kick the can

From the joyous sounds of youngsters
in the schoolyard across the street

I am open to all this earth and I
hug it with all my heart

I am from jazzy guitars and sassy voices

I am from birds singing in the trees

...from crickets chirping and trains whistling

...from a world I wish would be at peace

...from my aunts who care about me

I am intelligent and generous yet passionate of greed

I am from self-value and independence

I am from firefighters blowing their horns

The Neighbors

written by participants on 11/1 with Frank Sherlock

Jay asked everyone
to set up a groove... G-Town G-Town
& I get nostalgic about
the street sweeper I
Fell in love with in 1987

Busy memories wrap the bus
driver in eccentricity but, Hackman
why does your loyalty outstretch
that of the 23?
Block captains remember when you
knew everyone on your block

A guerilla gardener plants when
you are looking elsewhere&
my heart blossoms as a
rambunctious yarn bomber



I Remember, I Imagine

written by participants on 10/30 with Trapeta B. Mayson

I never took the time to observe the beauty of this spot
From then to now dealings of our last
The 15-minute bus ride for voice lessons at Settlement
Waiting for the 23 bus, eating butter rolls
from the farmers market, and running up the marble stairs

I remember the speeches given and the thoughts withheld
But unfortunately, dressed in white, no diversity, no fight
I imagine the future unknown.
Black, whites walk together, but don't socialize

I imagine colonial times, the 1770s
Bustling businesses, buying selling
Button notions in brown paper sacks
Vibrancy in the faces young + old
Children playing, running, yelling:
Look both ways!

I imagine looking at the supersized
people painted on that 70's sign
I remember drawing past that mural
trying to figure out what was happening in it
I remember kids playing hide + seek
I can remember two squirrels chasing
each other like a fun game of tag

I imagine happiness for the long story
I remember when my brother Sabari got his haircut
I imagine the cars passing by
I imagine the lives of those who lived here 200 years ago

G-Town Home

written by participants on 10/25 with Frank Sherlock

The rattle from the trolley may be disappeared
But under the church bells the smell of jerk chicken keeps us here.
The scampering of mice from the musty basement
is like jazz in my old house.
Even the blowing trash down broken sidewalks
is a rhythmic melody when it sings with the old trees.
I sit on this porch listening to Home.

A poem inspired by the Johnson House

Written by the 10/9/16 workshop participants with Frank Sherlock

Wissahickon schist can build a house that has many uses
Hearts beating fast, fearful wooden shutters conceal the sound
Out of the fire and into the cast iron skillet
Cover the windows - don't let them see us
The creaky floorboard almost gave away the fleeing of my feet
where hope of freedom needed sound to be more discreet
Creaky floorboards betray the silent strong feet about them
The ghosts in this house are older than we are
With this old home there is a lot of history, war and kindness in the walls
Paintings remain as witnesses to those who passed through
Wissahickon schist shelters all
The forgotten, wind-whipped wooden shutters unhinged, gently slapping the
red brick wall surprised by the gentle rain in the night
Out of slavery into another, nothing ended only changed
Freedom beneath the squeaky floorboard

Ode to Germantown

started by Trapeta B. Mayson - Completed by the 10/4/16 workshop participants

oh Germantown
home of the Belgian blocks, bricks
and sidewalk cracks
secret gardens and corner stores
violets pushing through fences
neighbors despite differences
my place, my home
I am your biggest cheerleader
hyping the crowd
we're your G-Town squad
walking these streets
pom-poms waving - chanting Germantown!

I see Good oozing down your streets
I hear green and green and green and more green
I feel at home
I see wild purple morning glories taking over everything
I smell culinary diversity
I hear birds, bells, and drums in the air
I touch my mom in spirit
I touch your spirit, your legacy,
your unconditional love, and I welcome all of you

Even though it may be hidden
I know there is love in every heart
I smell fresh flowers blossoming
I feel colorful leaves falling
and rustling under my feet
I tough the morning dew in the
early morn while G-Town sleeps

I feel GREAT!

This project paired a team of poets and musicians with teens and adults from the Germantown community to create new poetry and to later use this poetry to create four new pieces of music. The Network Ensemble will be joined by special guests: Maren Montalbano - mezzo-soprano | Randall Scarlata - baritone.

Joseph E. Coleman NW Regional Library
68 W Chelten Ave, Philadelphia

Network Ensemble:

Jan Krzywicki - Conductor
Matthew Levy - Saxophone
Diane Monroe - Violin
Brent Edmondson - Bass
Eric Derr - Drums/Percussion

Check out our team of artists who lead these workshops!


 Trapeta B. Mayson

Poet; Executive Director, Historic Germantown; 2002 Pew Fellow; Co-facilitator, Germantown Poetry Studio.



Frank Sherlock

Poet; 2014-15 Philadelphia Poet Laureate; 2013 Pew Fellow; developer of city-wide “Write Your Block”, supported by the Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; author of several volumes of poetry.



Jay Fluellen

Composer; singer; pianist; educator with School District of Philadelphia (teaches music and technology, co-wrote music curriculum); workshop leader; organist/choir director, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.


Eric Moe

Composer; Guggenheim Fellowship winner; pianist; workshop leader; Andrew Mellon Professor of Music at U. Pittsburgh.



This project was funded by The William Penn Foundation as part of their New Audiences/New Places initiative.