Carnegie poet and artist pays tribute to hometown

Published Feb 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm (Updated Feb 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm)

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall will host a poetry reading and art exhibit at 7 p.m. March 6 in its Reception Hall. “In this Valley” features the poetry and paintings of Carnegie writer and artist Bernadette Kazmarski. The program is scheduled to coincide with Carnegie Borough’s 120th Anniversary – on March 1, 1894, the boroughs of Chartiers and Mansfield legally merged to become Carnegie.

“The Library & Music Hall was Andrew Carnegie’s rather lavish thank you present to the borough that became his namesake,” said executive director Maggie Forbes. “A poetry reading by a writer so deeply shaped by this community seems a fitting way to mark the borough’s milestone anniversary.”

This is Kazmarski’s sixth poetry reading at the ACFL&MH. The Carnegie Carnegie’s “Poet Laureate” grew up in adjacent Scott Township. However, both of her parents were from Carnegie, she went to grade school at St. Luke’s School, and she has lived in the borough since she graduated from college in 1983. “Growing up, going downtown – or ‘going down street’ – meant going to Carnegie. Those trips were daily. The much less frequent trips we always described as ‘going to Pittsburgh,’” Kazmarski recalled.

As both a writer and a visual artist, she finds the beauty and rhythms of Carnegie’s local landscapes, Chartiers Creek and surrounding environs a source of ongoing inspiration. This includes not only her encounters with flora and fauna on her beloved Panhandle Trail, but also her every day experiences in her own backyard, her Cubbage Hill neighborhood and on Carnegie’s picturesque Main Street. “I don’t need to go far for inspiration,” Kazmarski said. “I believe in exploring the details of where I am and getting to know them deeply.”

Forbes conjectures that because she is an accomplished visual artist, Kazmarski conjures images that resonate on emotional as well as linguistic levels. “There is nothing florid about her writing. It is just deeply evocative, beautiful and true.”

Kazmarski’s poetry reading will be complemented by an exhibit of her paintings and photographs of Carnegie and nearby places: Carnegie’s Memorial Day parade; its distinctive onion dome churches; quirky, unexpected vistas; laundry in a neighbor’s yard; Main Street abloom with pear blossoms and the Library & Music Hall among them. Prints, note cards and a few original paintings will be for sale.

The poetry reading, free and open to the public, is followed by a reception.

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