Unitarian Universalist Minister named Berks County, PA Poet Laurate

By Sandra Fees

Rev. Sandra Fees

Rev. Sandra Fees, Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County in Reading, Pennsylvania was selected to be the 2016 Poet Laurate for Berks County PA. “Poetry and literary arts inform my work as a minister. I often use quotations from poets as a springboard for sermons and include poems in services,” said Rev. Fees, speaking of the integration of her artistic practice into congregational life. “Another way this has come into church life is through a monthly spiritual writing group I facilitated a year and a half ago. We wrote to the monthly themes using prompts that I developed.”

When asked about the congregation’s reaction to the award, Rev. Fees replied “The congregation is not only supportive but also enthusiastic. They are proud of me and proud to have a minister receiving this honor. I was truly touched to have about 15 members come to the ceremony.” Rev. Fees shared that poetry was her first calling, having written since childhood. However, it was in college that she began to take herself as a serous writer. “Poetry makes me a better minister, and ministry makes me a better poet”. Through UU Ministry Coaching with Rev. Mark Hoelter, Rev. Fees has sought to integrate the callings of poetry and ministry more fully. “My hope and vision is that being Berks County's Poet Laureate will help me bring these two passions into a more open and robust conversation.”

By Subtraction

Rev. Sandra Fees

Three animals in one year
come in snow to die. Here. Why?

Sirens invade the housing project
across the bridge.

The sky turns pale pink,
the way it does when it snows. Light pollution.

A lone rabbit, more scared than me,
loses the familiar earth-scent

can’t get comfortable
in winter’s skin.

Mother’s final message replays:
I just called to see if you’re all snowed in,

her voice tripping a little over the words snowed in
as if telling a half-joke.

Before that, I thought I knew what I wanted to say.
Now it’s her voice I hear.

Some people believe when a person dies
they take part of you with them. But it isn’t true.

They leave part behind
and what they leave isn’t yours to keep.

By subtraction, you’ll leave still more,
each moment another shade of white.

Congratulations to Rev. Fees on this great honor and to her congregation for their support.