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Drexel Writing Festival

April 10 to May 15, 2024

Save the date: The Drexel Writing Festival's multi-day experience runs from April 10 to May 8, 2024

In 2024, the Drexel Writing Festival will feature celebrated authors, contemporary poets, distinguished editors and leading academics who take us on a deep, reflective dive. This multi-day, in-person series offers something for everyone – we invite you to explore writing that connects us to and grounds us in shared human experiences. Join us for lively discussions and hands-on workshops across genres and topics.

Since 2011, the Drexel Writing Festival has explored rock music, ritual, play, hunger and empowerment. Guests represent esteemed authors and editors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, news media and comic books. The event has also spotlighted Young Adult (YA) novels, screenwriting, music, food and essays. In addition, the festival hosts popular workshops for local high schools and presents readings from Drexel's Creative Writing MFA degree students.

Henry Israeli

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend — our scheduled events are always free and open to the public.

Sponsors include the Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences, in partnership with the Department of English and Philosophy, the Gender and Sexuality Studies program and the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Questions? Email festival director Henry Israeli at

Schedule of Events

Reading and Discussion with poet and essayist Heather Lanier

April 10, 7–8:30pm | Location: MacAlister Hall, Room 5051B

Heather Lanier

Heather Lanier is a poet, essayist, teacher, speaker, and thrift-store shopper. An assistant professor of creative writing at Rowan University, Lanier is the author of the memoir, Raising a Rare Girl (Penguin Press, July 2020), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, along with two award-winning poetry chapbooks, The Story You Tell Yourself, and Heart-Shaped Bed in Hiroshima. She received a Vermont Creation Grant and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Her full-length poetry collection, Psalms of Unknowing, is forthcoming from Monkfish Publishing. Heather will be joined by Stacey E. Ake, PhD, PhD, Drexel Teaching Professor of Philosophy.

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Reading and Discussion with Iván Monalisa Ojeda, trans essayist, poet, and performer

April 15, 3:30–4:50pm | Location: Rush Building, Room 209

Iván Monalisa Ojeda was born in the late sixties in southern Chile and grew up on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. He/she studied theater at the University of Chile, in Santiago, and when he/she got his/her degree, Iván Monalisa settled in New York, where he/she currently lives. He/she published an essay collection, La Misma Nota, Forever (Sangria Publishers, 2014) and has written articles for magazines and plays. In addition to being a writer, he/she is a performer and is at work on a novel. Iván Monalisa's pronouns are he/she, his/hers, him/her because he/she considers him/herself to be both genders.

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Discussion and Workshop with Mark McBeth, author of Queer Literacies: Discourses and Discontents

April 30, 11am–12:20pm | Location: Rush Building, Room 213

Mark McBeth teaches undergraduates in the English Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and PhD candidates at The Graduate Center, CUNY. McBeth specializes in composition and rhetoric at the intersections of literacy studies and Queer theory. His recent book Queer Literacies: Discourses & Discontents examines the homophobic discourses of the 20th century and celebrates the advanced literacy labors –reading, writing, research, and critical response– that Queer literates undertook to upend heteronormative constructions and worldviews. McBeth's former work has looked at Victorian teacher training at Cambridge, UK. In addition, he has published on writing program administration, pedagogy, and similar issues. Mark will be joined by Liz Kimball, PhD, Drexel Assistant Professor of English.

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Novelist John Vercher reads from his newest book, Devil is Fine

May 7, 3–4:00pm | Location: The Study at University City – Drafting Room

John Vercher’s debut novel, Three-Fifths, was named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune and Booklist. It was nominated for the Edgar and Strand Magazine Critics’ Awards for Best First Novel. His second novel, After the Lights Go Out, called “shrewd and explosive” by The New York Times, was named a Best Book of Summer 2022 by BookRiot and Publishers Weekly, and named a Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book of 2022. His third book, Devil is Fine, publishes June 18, 2024 from Celadon Books. John is an Assistant Teaching Professor of English in the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel.

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Meet Barbara Jones, Literary Agent

May 8, 3:30–4:30pm | Location: The Study at University City – Drafting Room

Barbara Jones is an agent with the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, where she represents writers of upmarket fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on voices from previously underrepresented communities and on durable talents and stories. Jones' clients include Kate Axelrod, Charles Bock, Rafael Frumkin, Danielle Lazarin, Isaac Oliver, and The Swans of Harlem. Previously, she spent several decades as an editor. First, at magazines, including Harper’s Magazine, Vogue and Real Simple, then in book publishing, where she edited award winning and bestselling novels and nonfiction by writers such as Paul Auster, Susan Choi, Sebastian Faulks, Lauren Groff, Katherine Howe, Rachel Khong, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Coretta Scott King, Lillian Li, Julie Lythcott-Haims, Jacqueline Novogratz, Christa Parravani and Carl Safina.

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Discussion of English Accents in Blockbuster TV and Movies

May 15, 9am–10am | Location: Drexel Plaza Room 34

Rachel Reynolds is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Drexel, where she directs the Minor in Linguistics and also serves as graduate faculty in Communication, Culture & Media graduate programs.  Lately, she has been conducting research on television and social movements, especially around the portrayal of gendered violence.  In 2024, she will be conducting research in the UK on masculinity in British television. Rachel will be joined by Maria Volynsky, Drexel Associate Teaching Professor of English.

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High School Workshops – April 12 and April 19, from 9:00am to 3:45pm

Everyone’s a writer – Yes, that means you!

Our popular High School Workshops offer high-intensity, interactive writing sessions that get participants thinking and creating in a variety of forms. Held on Drexel University’s campus, this day of writing workshops is a fantastic opportunity for students to put their creativity to the test and hone their skills in a variety of different literary genres. High school students will work closely with Drexel facilitators to begin crafting writing in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry, all while gaining valuable feedback and guidance.

We can welcome a limited number of school groups of up to 20 students. While there is no minimum level of writing or English skills required, past groups have been comprised of junior or senior-level Honors and AP English and Literature classes. Clubs and organizations, such as student newspapers, literary groups, and drama clubs may also find these workshops worthwhile. Each team must have a group leader from their institution who can register the team here.

The Drexel Writing Festival offers workshops for local high schools

 Space is limited – we encourage you to register early.

Questions? Please email Janine Guerra,

Both Workshops At Capacity – Please Join Our Waiting List


  • Jon Hobratsch – Drexel Assistant Teaching Professor of English
  • Harriet Millan – Drexel Associate Teaching Professor of English
  • Jill Moses – Drexel Associate Teaching Professor of English and Assistant Director of First-Year Writing Program
  • Von Wise – Drexel Adjunct Instructor of English


  • Mansi Bhagwate – Drexel Creative Writing MFA Student, 2025 (April 19 only)
  • Matthew Smith – Drexel Assistant Teaching Professor of English
  • Monique Clark – Drexel Creative Writing MFA Alumni, 2023
  • Lynn Levin – Drexel Adjunct Associate Professor of English
  • Rylee Cella – Drexel Creative Writing MFA Alumni, 2023
  • Matthew Smith – Drexel Assistant Teaching Professor of English (April 12 only)