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McBean performs poetry reading and concert at campus bookstore

Hannah McBean reading poetry.
Hannah Hattie McBean reads poetry from her book, "Silence Speaks: Sounds from Within."
4/23/2012 —

Hannah Hattie McBean wants to reach people of all ages with her poetry.

She had the chance to do that last week with a poetry reading at the Penn State New Kensington campus bookstore, where she read from her book, Silence Speaks: Sounds from Within.

McBean, an adult student and sophomore organizational leadership major at Penn State New Kensington, also sang and shared stories in between reading her inspirational works.

“I was totally excited because 35 students came and they flooded the bookstore. It was awesome,” she said. “I was very surprised and just so happy with the turnout I had.”

The campus’s jazz ensemble accompanied the 32-year old New Kensington resident and Vandergrift native.

She claims music as her first love, but finds poetry to be a powerful outlet, too.

“It’s like a way for me to vent and kind of pour out my emotions, the struggles in life and the victories. That’s where the poetry comes from,” she said.

Her book includes 68 poems divided into three chapters, “The Struggle”, “The Mountain Top”, and “The Awakening”. An audio book featuring McBean reading a number of her poems is available for free online.

In addition to crafting her own creative work, McBean also endeavors to help others, especially young people, do the same. With her company, “She’s Purely Defined”, McBean goes to churches, middle schools and colleges to share her love of poetry.

But those efforts are about more than what can be put down on paper.

“We do a lot of outreach, trying to build children emotionally,” she said.

McBean has plans to bring poetry programs to elementary schools. A program at the local YMCA is in the works too.

And with her degree from Penn State, she intends to expand her efforts into more youth programs that focus on tutoring and job training for low income students.

“I just want to reach as many youth as possible,” she said. “Life is short.”

While she’s been singing for years and her poetry book is now in its second edition, McBean wasn’t sure want to expect when performing in front of her classmates. In class, the mother of six said, she may often seem smiling but quiet and ready to get down to business.

Sharing her work provided the chance to share a different side of herself, like when she read a poem about commanding respect or when she “poured her heart out” in the introduction to another, called “Weight Watchers”.

“It was kind of hilarious at the beginning,” she said. “They laughed because they knew where I was coming from.”

Later, on campus, McBean said, she could see the impact her reading had on fellow students, when even those she doesn’t know well saw her and smiled.

“So it was definitely a good experience,” she said. “I definitely connected with them.”

To find out more about Hannah Hattie McBean and her work, check out the following sites:

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