May 19, 2017 by Gina Vitale
The Drexel Writing Festival, hosted by Drexel University’s Department of English and Philosophy, took place from May 9 to 11 and featured a series of writing-related events.
The festival kicked off May 9 with an open event hosted by the Pennoni Honors College titled “Writing on the Wall: How to Evaluate Good Writing.” Later that evening, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a reading and reception featuring poet Major Jackson. Jackson was the winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for both the NAACP Image Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award.
“I have not disappeared. The boulevard is full of my steps. The sky is full of my thinking,” Jackson read from his poem “On Disappearing.”
Also on the night of May 9, Joe Genaro of the Philadelphia-born punk band The Dead Milkmen held a lyric workshop in the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. That event was sponsored by MAD Dragon Media and also featured MAD Dragon’s Johnny Popcorn.
The next day saw a smattering of events in quick succession, including a culinary writing workshop and a talk on henna rituals and Jewish heritage followed by free henna tattoos. Co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress then gave a talk on religion and understanding, and poet Ahmad Almallah gave a poetry reading in several languages.
Later in the afternoon, WHYY/NewsWorks columnist Dick Polman spoke about the state of journalism as it pertains to the current Donald Trump administration. This was followed by the Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slam Bam Thank You Ma’am improvisational writing competition, in which participants created pieces of writing on the spot.
Maya Literary Magazine, Drexel’s undergraduate literary magazine, then hosted readings from their 50th anniversary issue. The day concluded with a screening of “Almost Famous” and a discussion with former Rolling Stone music journalist Richard Abowitz.
The last day of the festival kicked off with a workshop by Drexel professor Kirsten Kaschock titled “Moving Target” concerning movement and writing. Professor Fred Siegel followed with another workshop about improvisation as it pertains to writing. Ivan Velez Jr., creator of comic book series “Tales of the Closet,” gave a talk about comic books featuring LGBTQ youth, followed by a question-and-answer session.
In the evening, the Drexel English Department Award winners read from their recognized works, and an award ceremony took place in their honor. The day wrapped up with a screening of “Buffalo 66,” which was accompanied by a discussion with the screenwriter of the film, Alison Bagnall.
The Writing Festival took the place of Drexel’s annual Week of Writing, which ran for 10 years prior.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is a member of Maya Literary Magazine.