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Drexel Writing Festival

May 8-12, 2023

Save the date: Drexel Writing Festival, week of May 8 to 12, 2023

In 2023, the writing festival will explore the theme, “em|power,” an idea that encapsulates both power dynamics and the drive for empowerment, particularly for those who have previously been powerless. This year’s featured guests include fiction writer Molly Antepol, author of The Unamericans; Moncho Alvarado, a Cihuayollotl, trans woman Xicanx poet; Kim Kelly, the author of Fight Like Hell: the untold story of American labor; and Helen Ubiñas, a Philadelphia Inquirer journalist who writes about the impact of gun violence. In addition, Drexel faculty members will speak on race, gender, state discipline, repression and policing.

Since 2011, the Drexel Writing Festival has attracted celebrated authors, contemporary poets, distinguished editors and leading academics who take us on a deep, reflective dive into a central theme. The festival draws more than 500 attendees, hosts mentored workshops for Central High School students and presents readings from Drexel's Creative Writing MFA degree students.

Henry Israeli

Everyone is welcome 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 Communication, the Laurie Wagman Initiative in Jewish Studies, the Women's and Gender Studies program and the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Questions? Email Henry Israeli, Drexel Writing Festival director, at

Banner photo: DCErica via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Schedule of Events

All events —with the exception of the awards ceremony on May 12— will take place in the Stern Room located on the third floor of the Drexel University Hagerty Library. All events are free and open to the public.

May 8

Poetry Reading by Trans Xicanx Poet Moncho Alvarado | Noon-12:50 p.m.

Poetry Workshop with Moncho Alvarado | 1:00-1:50 p.m.

On Unruly Power(s): De-criminalizing Untimely Black Action | 2:00-2:50 p.m.

May 9

A Discussion with Israeli Memoirist Ilana Blumberg | 12:30-1:50 p.m.

A Reading and Workshop with Author Molly Antopol | 3:30-5:00 p.m.

May 10

Using Public Platforms to Empower Community | 11:00 a.m.-Noon

Fight Like Hell: the Untold Story of American Labor | Noon-12:50 p.m.

Creative Nonfiction Workshop Led by Kim Kelly | 1:00-1:50 p.m.

Creative Writing MFA Program Reading Led by Nomi Eve | 2:00-3:50 p.m.

May 11

The Power of Writing: Stories from the Liberation Struggle | 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

War. Day 441: A Poetic Diary from Ukraine | 2:00-3:20 p.m.

Workshop: Approaches to Structuring the Short Story | 3:30-4:50 p.m.

May 12

Readings, Awards Ceremony and Reception in Behrakis Hall| 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Special Guests

Moncho Alverado

Moncho Alvarado

Moncho Alvarado aka @moncholapoet is a sister in residence in air, a Cihuayollotl trans Xicanx poet, translator, visual artist, and educator. She is the author of Greyhound Americans (Saturnalia Books 2022), which was the winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Book Prize, selected by Diane Seuss. She has been published in Hayden Ferry Review, Foglifter,, and other publications. She has fellowships and residencies from LAMBDA Literary, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Troika House, and others. Alvarado is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and has been featured at Brooklyn Museum, Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation, Time Square Arts, PEN America, to name a few. Currently, she is working on a trans historical novel in verse and lives in Queens with her partner, cuddly dog, and meowling cat.

Moncho Alvarado

Molly Antopol

Molly Antopol

Molly Antopol’s first book, The UnAmericans (W.W. Norton), won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award, the Berlin Prize, the French-American Prize, the Ribalow Prize and a California Book Award Silver Medal. The book was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and the Sami Rohr Prize, among others. It was named a “Best Book of the Year” by over a dozen publications and was widely published internationally. Antopol was named one of the 'Forward 50,' a list of notable American Jews in sports, politics, religion, literature and media. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Granta and San Francisco Chronicle; in the O. Henry Prize and Pushcart Prize anthologies; and on NPR’s All Things Considered. She is at work on a novel, which will also be published by Norton.

Molly Antopol

Ilana Blumberg

Ilana Blumberg

Ilana Blumberg is author of Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books; VIctorian Sacrifice: Ethics and Economics in Mid-Century Novels; and Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American. She is currently completing a book tracing the spiritual life of the novelist George Eliot. Ilana is the recipient of an Israel Science Foundation grant, "First Person: Teaching Memoir and Autobiography in Israeli Higher Education." A prize-winning teacher and scholar, Ilana teaches at Bar Ilan University and lives with her family in Jerusalem, Israel.

Ilana Blumberg

Kim Kelly

Kim Kelly

Kim Kelly is an independent journalist, author, and organizer based in Philadelphia, PA. She has been a labor columnist for Teen Vogue since 2018, and her writing on labor, class, politics, and culture has appeared in The New Republic, the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Baffler, The Nation, The Columbia Journalism Review, and Esquire. She has also worked as a video correspondent for More Perfect Union, The Real News Network, and Means TV. Previously she was the heavy metal editor at VICE’s Noisey, and a leader in the VICE Union. She is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Freelance Journalist Union, an elected councilperson for the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).

Kim Kelly

Lyudmyla Khersonka

Lyudmyla Khersonska

Lyudmyla Khersonska is a poet and translator from Odesa, Ukraine. She is the author of four poetry collections in Russian. In 2022 her joint volume, "The Country where Everyone’s Name is Fear," written with the poet Boris Khersonsky –who is her husband– came out in English translation from Lost Horse Press. Khersonska was recently included in the list, “33 International Women Writers Who are Bold for Change” by Words without Borders. Today is a Different War, her chapbook in English translation, is forthcoming from Arrowsmith Press in 2023.

Lyudmyla Khersonska

Olga Livshin

Olga Livshin

Olga Livshin's poetry and translations appear in the New York Times, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, and other journals. She is the author of A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (Poets & Traitors Press, 2019). Livshin co-translated A Man Only Needs a Room, a volume of Vladimir Gandelsman's poetry, forthcoming from New Meridian Arts Books in 2022, and Today is a Different War by the Ukrainian poet Lyudmyla Khersonska, forthcoming from Arrowsmith Press in 2023.

Olga Livshin

Helen Ubiñas

Helen Ubiñas

Helen Ubiñas is a columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she writes regularly about urban affairs, municipal government, and public policy through the lens of life in the city’s neighborhoods. She has also authored a column at The Philadelphia Daily News and at The Hartford Courant, where she was the paper's first Latina columnist. At the Courant, Helen was also part of a team honored with a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of a mass shooting at a Connecticut lottery office. A winner of numerous journalism awards, Helen is a graduate of Boston University, she holds a master’s degree from Trinity College-Hartford, and she was a John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University.

Helen Ubiñas

Drexel Faculty

Jakeya Caruthers

Jakeya Caruthers, PhD – Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies

By looking to some of the most provocative scenes in Black women’s literature, Jakeya Caruthers will examine the “improper” distribution of Black women’s (anti)heroic action, especially in situations where the action is too much, too soon, too little, or too late. She asks us to question what can happen when Black women’s peculiar, “untimely” acts of self-sustainment are recast as powerful instead of pathological?

Faculty profile

Maegan Poland

Maegan Poland, PhD – Assistant Teaching Professor of English

Maegan Poland will present a workshop specially designed for short story writers. Poland teaches creative writing and composition at Drexel University. Currently, she is working on a novel.

Faculty profile

Sonia Vaz Borges

Sonia Vaz Borges, PhD – Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies

Since 2013, Sonia Vaz Borges has examined the Liberation struggle of Guinea Bissau, walking the different terrains where the struggle took place. From the city to the countryside, from the asphalt to the mangrove crossing the rice fields and the forest, all these important sites contributed to the building of a liberation archive. Vaz Borges' talk will approach the practices of how to translate the diverse information collected in these spaces in an archive, followed by how to write history and stories from these experiences that reflect the research path.

Faculty profile

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Founded in 1836, Central High School, the second-oldest continuously attended public high school in the United States, is recognized as one of the top public schools in the nation due to its high academic standards. Located in the Logan section of the city of Philadelphia, Central is the only high school in the U.S. that has the authority, granted by an Act of Assembly in 1849, to confer the Bachelor of Arts degree upon graduates who meet rigorous academic requirements. As a result, Central consistently ranks among the top high schools in the city and across the state of Pennsylvania.

Guest author Jason Mott (left) with Drexel alumna Angel Hogan, Creative Writing MFA '21

Creative Writing MFA Student Readings

With a dual focus on writing for production (screenwriting) and writing for publication (fiction), the Drexel Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is the only low-residency Creative Writing MFA located in the city of Philadelphia. The Drexel MFA combines the teaching of craft with hands-on exposure to the professional machinery of industry. MFA students undertake an intensive two-year process of story creation, critique, revision, and career preparation. Students take part in on-line workshops, reading tutorials, and one-on-one packet exchanges with notable published writers.