Pitman Manor’s Poet Laureate Helps Celebrate National Poetry Month in the Borough of Pitman
Chances are if you visit the town of Pitman during the month of April you will see poems written by local school children, residents and community leaders on display in the windows of specially selected businesses as part of The Pitman Poems on Parade. Among those poems on display is one written by Pitman Manor resident Dorothy Davis Bills. Bills discovered poetry as an 11-year-old growing up in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. After she happened upon a book of poems by well-known writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, she read it from cover to cover, and then, sat down with pen in hand to write her first poem, The Starbird. She showed her creation to her Sunday school teacher at the Cumberland Street Methodist Church who suggested Dorothy submit it to a magazine published exclusively for youngsters called Junior Weekly. “Imagine my surprise when an envelope came for me a few months later with a copy of my published poem and a brand new one dollar bill. I kept that dollar for years and still have the original magazine,” reflected Bills, now 92-years-young. Bills, a retired secretary and mother of three used poetry to express her creativity, faith, emotions and insight into the world around her. With a love for reading and traveling, exotic destinations have served as the backdrop for more than a few of her poems. Over the last 80 years, she estimates she has written over 300 diversely-titled poems such as Who packed your parachutes?, Angels, Castles in the Air, Walking at the Mall, and At the Dollar Store. The poem subjects include love, loss and life as well as everything in between. Recently she was “commissioned” to write a poem for a Pitman Manor associate to read at a friend’s funeral. “I did not know the deceased so I sat down with the young lady and we talked a longtime about her friend — until I felt like I knew him too. She was very happy with what I wrote and proudly read it at his memorial services,” said Bills. “Dorothy is quiet and unassuming lady with a dry sense of humor. When she first moved to Pitman Manor I asked her how she was? Dorothy’s response came in the form of a poem she had not only written and memorized, but also, listed all her daily aches, pains and ailments. I have since learned to reword that question when asking about her day,” said K.C. Duffield, the receptionist with a smile. Bills’ granddaughter is now in the process of typing all of her grandmother’s poems and putting them together in a bound journal. “I never felt the desire to be a professional writer but as long as I am able, I intend to keep writing poetry, if only for me to read,” declared Bills. Visitors are encouraged to stop by Pitman Manor, which is located at 535 North Oak Avenue and read the more than a dozen poems written by Borough residents on display until April 30th. Dorothy Bills will also be featured in Engage, a United Methodist Communities publication due out in mid-May. Stop by and pick up your free copy.