the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history of berks county by jennifer hetrick – volume 2

the labors of our fingertips--poems from manufacturing  history of berks county, volume two - COVER

By Philip Terman

in this digital age of factory closings, jennifer hetrick’s unique and admirable project to interview these workers and craft—in their own voices—stories about their labor and lives is an absolutely essential document, squarely in the tradition of walt whitman’s experiment to sing the “living and buried speech” that is “always vibrating here.” the poems are acts of preservation, but they are also more. these belt-sewers and barstool-makers and brick-stackers tell us the stories of their lives: betty kunkel recalling “jigging to that fiddle-sound, / our fast-footed steps carving out / cowboy and cowgirl sugar memories” or the way leroy fretz, whose life was “calculated in bricks” can say, “at the end of the day, you were tired.” in poem after poem, hetrick reminds us that poetry is everywhere, if we care enough to listen. most impressive is her invaluable ability and wisdom to really hear the spirits inside each of these speakers and to alchemize their voices into a poetry which becomes a history still alive now, here, at our fingertips.


You can find the book here:


Philip Terman’s most recent books of poetry are Our Portion: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House Press) and Like a Bird Entering a Window and Leaving Through Another Window, a hand-sewn collaboration with an artist and bookbinder. A selection of his poems, My Dear Friend Kafka, has been translated into Arabic and published by Ninawa Press. His poems have appeared widely. He teaches at Clarion University, is co-director of The Chautauqua Writers Festival, and directs the Bridge Literary Arts Center in Franklin, PA.


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