Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: The Art in Poetry

“Knack, knack” (no I am not a typo).

“Who’s there?”

(A cup of) “Joe and Holly…or so the story goes.”

The couple knocking, Joe and Holly O’Connor (pictured), have quite a knack and came home last week to share it. The long-time Harrisburg residents were a team for 20-plus years and continue to be even more than that today.

Holly O’Connor, through her passion for teas and coffees, from an out-of-the-back-of-her-truck business grew that dream to a grand and ever-growing coffee and tea emporium. Deciding to retire after more than two decades, she sold the business, which went from One Good Woman to two good women, Michele Koch and Mechelle Webster, who purchased OGW almost five years ago.

The ladies were gracious hosts on Thursday night, opening their doors for a very special event. They threw the long-time Camp Hill icons quite a party. It turns out that Joe’s knack is writing poetry, and his recently published book, “Why Poetry,” has gone on the road with the O’Connors for a late fall book tour.

Starting in Pittsburgh and working its way east, the tour—following an extraordinary evening the previous night at Saint Vincent College—came home to roost for a special reading at One Good Woman.

The new owners and the patrons of OGW feel tremendous appreciation for the O’Connors. So, it was no big surprise that Joe read to a standing-room-only crowd for almost a solid hour as he waxed lyrical with his poetry and doubled down in the best way imaginable, to the delight of the audience. He gave the reasons for poetry existing in the first place. In fact, that very question is posited as the preface to his book and its title.

The thought that poetry says, “Look at my less, and find in this less, more; more beautiful, more bountiful, more elated, ecstatic, and exhilarated.” Not your average Joe, that’s for sure. After all these years, Joe found his passion for life and the written word in his poetry, and his reading made for a memorable evening for all gathered there.

The holiday season takes the O’Connors back to their retirement home (no, not that kind of home) but their newly adopted headquarters in the quaint and charming hamlet of Chestertown, Md. The tour will resume again in the spring, with the first stop at the Book Place, Chestertown’s own. Other stops along the way will include Berlin, Md., and, if last week’s crowd request a repeat performance, it would not surprise me to see Joe and Holly return to their roots for a second reading at OGW. Either way, the O’Connors proved legendary writer Tom Wolfe wrong—you can go home again, even if only for an evening.

There is great art in poetry. Beauty is captured, as are unvarnished truths; inner strengths are arrived at, and wisdom once lost is found. Poetry is painting in words. It finds itself in rarefied air. The power of the written word lingers on the wind, gets swept away by a breeze, whispers in your ear, and holds you close when you dream.

To learn more about Joe O’Connor’s poetry and to purchase his books, visit his page at Eulalia Books.

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