A single serving conversation changed the perspective in which I viewed my great Aunt Bette for a life time. I was visiting a friend in Santa Barbara, California who recently moved from New Jersey. The first stop on his presentation of the west coast lifestyle was a trendy Mexican eatery. He explained the recent staple in his diet which dominates his friends and the entire beach culture, was the, “flour tortilla wrapped burrito of heaven” located only at this eatery. The choices on the menu were endless and I was completely overwhelmed. Among the sand/sun crusted surfers was a couple, in their late 60’s ahead of us in line. I decided to make friends and ask them what was good on the menu. I introduced myself as a visitor from the east coast looking for some sound Cali advice. When I told them where I was from, I was stopped dead in my tracks. “Manasquan”! The women replied. “We absolutely love that quaint sea side borough”. “What an attractive place, you know there is a woman there that writes poetry and puts it on her steps”. “We have gone back just to see her new poem”.
That woman who writes poetry on wood planks gently set on her front step is my great Aunt Bette June. Bette June is a lifelong resident of Manasquan New Jersey and a beloved seaside philosopher. She grew up on the beach with a love of art, literature, and fun in the sun. For the last twenty years she has brought joy to the jersey shore by displaying decorative boards of singsongy poetry for all beach goers to see. A reporter from the Asbury Park Press, Shannon Mullen once wrote, “Bette June Worth is to poetry what, say, John Grisham is to literature. Light, breezy, meant for the masses-in short, ideal summer reading.”
Bette June has written many different types of poetry and prose. She has been featured in different publications throughout the years with national circulation. Big or small, she is most known for her poetic porch.
Why she does what she does is still a bit of a mystery. It may at first appear to be a self centered form of expression. That would be an easy explanation; however she is shy by nature. Most of her published pieces are under pseudonym. Not because they are edgy resistance declarations, because she’s not looking for the attention. She does what she does, to make you smile. Here is her first poem in 1991;
Step by step this Rhyme may reach
Into your Hearts from Manasquan Beach
Inlet, Jetty, Cove and Sand
Ocean shores of just bought land.
Resident poet – born and raised
Truly a clam digger – glad I’ve stayed
After years of people knocking on the door to meet the person behind the porch and countless letters from fans, I finally convinced her to let me make her a trial website. So she wrote a poem about it in 2005;
Twinkle, Twinkle little stair
Shining bright with words to share
Wish I may, wish I might
Have my very own web site
Visit these steps you’ve come upon
The website ran for a year and received modest traffic. We kept the domain parked until 2010 when I decided to bring it back with a new idea. Global smiles J . If it makes a visitor headed to the beach smile, why not a person at home, work, or in a café. I also loved the concept of blogging, the idea of sharing individual commentary, descriptions of events, but most of all visitor interaction and user submission. This is the direction I intend http://www.poemsofworth.com to take. A digital community of artistic expression brought to you by decorative boards of singsongy poetry. Visit http://www.poemsofworth.com to share in the fun.
By Alex J. Worth