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New Drexel Writing Festival Held on Campus

May 01, 2017

Writing Festival

For the last 10 years, Drexel University faculty, staff and students have convened to read, write and celebrate the myriad forms of expression during the annual Week of Writing — the brainchild of English faculty members Scott Stein and Painted Bride Quarterly co-editor Kathy Volk Miller.  

This year, the signature spring event hosted by the Department of English and Philosophy has been reimagined and renamed to the Drexel Writing Festival — 16 festive writing events packed into just three days, from May 9–11.

“Students will be integrally involved — participating in workshops, multimedia presentations and discussions with artists,” said this year’s event organizer Henry Israeli, an associate teaching professor and associate director of the Certificate in Writing and Publishing in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Held in the spring quarter just like the Week of Writing, the Drexel Writing Festival will feature live music, two film screenings, multimedia presentations and, of course, workshops and readings.

Joe Genaro, guitarist and vocalist of the seminal local punk band The Dead Milkmen, will hold a lyric workshop and live performance sponsored by MAD Dragon Media in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The next day, Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, a professor in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management and editor of six books, will lead a workshop in food writing and Richard Abowitz, director of the Pennoni Honor College’s Center for Cultural Outreach and a former Rolling Stone reporter, will host a screening of “Almost Famous,” with a talk about music journalism afterwards.

Continuing in the spirit of the Week of Writing, we wanted to involve as many other departments as we could to help foster the idea that writing is not limited to the English department,” said Israeli. “There are so many students in many other departments who are heavily involved in writing and invested in it as a career choice. They are an important part of Drexel's writing culture.”

Major Jackson.

The Drexel Writing Festival will also mark the arrival of Major Jackson, an esteemed Philadelphia poet coming to campus as the first visiting writer of Writers Room, a College of Arts and Sciences initiative in which Drexel students and their neighbors from Mantua and Powelton Village come together to write, read, and share their work at the University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Besides holding a public poetry reading for the Drexel Writing Festival, Jackson will also visit and hold one-on-one sessions with students and community members in a side-by-side Drexel English class, as well as meet with young writers in the West Philadelphia Mighty Writers after-school program.

“Major Jackson was absolutely the right person to launch this series at Writers Room,” said Rachel Wenrick, an associate teaching professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “He’s a great example of an incredible artist who proves you can be who you are and go anywhere. We’re happy to bring him not just our campus, but to our neighborhood.”

Here’s a list of all of the events in the Drexel Writing Festival, which are free and open to the public. They will take place in the Pearlstein Gallery at 3401 Filbert St. in Philadelphia unless otherwise noted.

May 9

3 p.m.

The Writing on the Wall: How to Evaluate Good Writing hosted by the Pennoni Honors College
Participants TBA

5 p.m.

Poetry reading by Major Jackson
Major Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry: "Roll Deep", "Holding Company", and "Hoops", finalist for an NAACP Image Award, and "Leaving Saturn", winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

This event will be held at the Dornsife Center (3509 Spring Garden St.)

7 p.m.

Lyric Workshop and Live Performance sponsored by MAD Dragon Media
Join Joe Genaro of punk band The Dead Milkmen and MAD Dragon's Johnny Popcorn band for a lyric writing workshop followed by a live performance.

May 10

12 p.m.

Listening to Food: A Culinary Writing Workshop with Jonathan Deutsch
Jonathan Deutsch, professor in the Center for Hospitality & Sport Management and editor of six books including "Barbecue: A Global History" (with Megan Elias), "Culinary Improvisation" and "Gastropolis: Food and Culture in New York City" (with Annie Hauck-Lawson), leads a workshop in writing about food. Limited space!

1 p.m.

Henna Rituals, Secret Codes, and Sacred Jewish Heritage with novelist Nomi Eve and henna tattoo Artist Payal Gupta (free henna tattoos!)
Nomi Eve, an assistant teaching professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the author of "Henna House" and "The Family Orchard", a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection also nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She will give a multimedia presentation of the sources that inspired her. The talk will be followed by henna tattoo artist Payal Gupta, who will be giving free henna tattoos.

2 p.m.

Arab and Muslim Voices in America with activist Zainab Al-Suwaij and poet Ahmad Almallah
Zainab Al-Suwaij, Iraqi-American activist and the co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress, will speak on the importance of religious rights and interfaith understanding. Poet and scholar Ahmad Almallah will follow with a bilingual poetry reading.

3 p.m.

War on Facts: Journalism in the Age of Trump with Journalist Dick Polman
Dick Polman, national political columnist at WHYY/NewsWorks will give a multimedia presentation trying to make sense of the current political climate and its effect on journalists.

4 p.m.

Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slam Bam: An Improv Writing Competition
A recurring hit event for lovers of poetry who want to share the power of their words. All welcome to participate!

5 p.m.

MAYA Magazine’s Launch Reading
Drexel’s undergraduate literary magazine hosts their annual launch reading.

6:30 p.m.

Screening of "Almost Famous" followed by a discussion of music journalism by Richard Abowitz
Watch the classic film and then join ex-Rolling Stone music journalist Richard Abowitz for what promises to be an exciting discussion.

May 11

12 p.m.

Moving Target: A Movement and Writing Workshop with Kirsten Kaschock
Kirsten Kaschock, PhD, an assistant teaching professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and author of four books of poetry and one novel, will lead a workshop in movement and writing.

1 p.m.

Making It Up: An Improv and Writing Workshop with Fred Siegel
Fred Siegel, PhD, director of the First-Year Writing Program and teaching professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, will lead a workshop in improv and writing.

2:30 p.m.

The Planet Bronx Effect: Queer Comic Books with Ivan Velez Jr.
Ivan Velez Jr., known for his work with Milestone Media and for creating "Tales of the Closet,” one of the first comics to depict the everyday lives of LGBT youth, will present a multimedia presentation on Queer Comic Books, followed by a Q&A.

4 p.m.

Readings by Drexel English Department Award Winners followed by Award Ceremony

7 p.m.

Screening of "Buffalo 66" followed by a discussion with Screenwriter Allison Bagnal (co-writer of "Buffalo 66")
Join Alison Bagnall, a visiting professor in the Westphal College of Arts & Media and co-writer of the classic film "Buffalo 66" for a screening and discussion of screenwriting.

For more information about the Drexel Writing Festival, contact Henry Israeli at