We are crazy excited to announce that we have a judge for this year's poetry contest! Daisy Fried was a staff writer at City Paper when I started working here during the Jurassic (Park: The Lost World) era, and went on to become a poet of renown in places where poetry is properly renowned. She teaches at the Warren Wilson MFA Program in North Carolina and writes for the New York Times, Threepenny Review and Poetry. Her latest book, Women's Poetry is funny and touching and a joy to read. Here's what the New York Times had to say:
Fried is a poet who will “tense up” when she hears “an affirming poem,” finding “Sourness a kind of joy I try for intricately.” Her present-tense poems vividly record the impressions of our moment: road rage, smartphones, magnet loops, Facebook, a “gun megachurch.”
SO: Get to it poets! And fiction writers!
The deadline is Tuesday. Here are all the details.
Deadline: 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 16
Fiction: $5 entry fee per story. Stories should be 3,000 words or less and previously unpublished. No more than three fiction submissions per author.
Poetry: $5 entry fee per five poems. No more than 10 poems per poet.
Prizes: Winners get all the money — minus the judges’ honorariums — and have their work printed in City Paper. Runners up, also chosen by the judges, get posted online. Hopefully there will be a reading, too (but we said that last year).
These huge arts festivals can be overwhelming — how to figure out what's worth seeing? CP's sending someone to nearly every event PIFA's putting on over the next month to help you decide, so check back with Critical Mass all month long for comprehensive, ongoing reviews.
GROUP: Athenaeum of Philadelphia / Philadelphia Center for the Book
ATTENDED: Friday, April 5, 5 p.m., Athenaeum of Philadelphia
CLOSES: April 27
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: The Athenaeum’s extensive collections regarding the 1876 Centennial Exposition combine in this exhibition with the response of contemporary book artists to the themes of the Centennial, Susan B. Anthony and Women’s Suffrage, and the 1876 Fourth of July.
WE THINK: Even without this year’s PIFA theme for context, stepping into the Athenaeum of Philadelphia feels a bit like traveling backwards in time. A member-supported library designed and built in the mid 19th-century, it’s an obvious fit for an exhibition celebrating Philadelphia women of the centennial. “From Seneca Falls to Philadelphia” features work by ten contemporary book artists responding to themes of patriotism and women’s rights.
Several of the pieces are fictional accounts of Philadelphia women of the era—imaged facsimiles of what their personal journals or photo albums might have looked like. Others are more formally experimental, like Susan Bonthron’s Almost There, a scroll printed with the silhouettes of famous female suffragists and contained by four walls of translucent American flags. The exhibition’s standout piece is Carol Phillips To The Ladies Declaration. A two-dimensional work formed by two joined, light green pages, Phillips’ piece juxtaposes text from the Declaration of the Rights of Women of the United States with text and images from a corset pamphlet distributed by Alice C. Fletcher & Company. (We weren't allowed to take photos in the gallery, unfortunately.)
PREVIOUSLY IN PIFA: Dizzy Gillespie on Philly jazz.
Actually it's kind of a trickle. Now's your chance to strike. Send your poems! Send your stories!
The great Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart and several other novels, stories and essays has passed away. In this video, Bill Moyers interviews Chinua Achebe for PBS. Read the New York Times obit here.
Every year, Vida, a web site focusing on "women in the literary arts," breaks down the output of several national literary/literary-ish publications — Paris Review, New Yorker, Granta, Harper's — by gender. And every year the results skew male. We're talking writers, authors, book reviewers and more. Dudes all over the place. Emily Guendelsberger took one look at it and said, "I always did wonder why Philip Roth was so acclaimed." Check out Vida's amazing assortment of bar graphs here. Ooh, even better, go here for the extended intro and slideshow.
Philly’s on-again/off-again literary festival is on again, with four days of readings, concerts and parties in the Eraserhood section. There’s too much stuff to list here, but I’ll lay out some highlights. It all starts Thursday with an appearance by Buzz Bissinger and the debut of the Mural Arts Mobile Campfire, “a glowing, LED-powered orb meant to intimate a futuristic campfire” designed by artist Juan Dimida (7 p.m., 319 N. 11th St.). Author/journalist Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test, Lost at Sea) is one of the most brilliant nonfiction storytellers going, so Friday’s happy hour reading at Llama Tooth should be a blast (6 p.m., 1033 Spring Garden Ave.). Sunday night belongs to one of the most brilliant fake-fiction storytellers, John Hodgman (The Areas of My Expertise), a 215 Fest staple (8 p.m., Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St.).
Through Nov. 4, free to $15, various locations, 215festival.org.
Barrelhouse literary magazine usually holds its annual conference in Washington DC, but Philly’s getting a turn this year. Saturday’s event is a full day of panels and workshops aimed at writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.
Among the speakers and discussion leaders: Ken Kalfus, Sarah Rose Etter, Katherine Hill, Courtney Elizabeth Mauk, Laura van den Berg, Katie Ford, Iain Haley Pollock and the editors of Painted Bride Quarterly. There’s a strong extended-family City Paper contingent, too, like: once-upon-a-time CP music critic Andrew Ervin (author of Extraordinary Renditions which I’ve heard is excellent), poet Michelle Taransky (who judged our poetry contest a couple years back and is awesome) and Elise Juska (who judged our fiction contest a few years ago, and kicks ass).
Delivering the keynote speaker is Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster, The Odds and a ton of other stuff, including those Red Sox books co-written with Stephen King. Ask him why he’s wearing a frickin Pirates hat in that photo.
Sat., Sept. 22, 9 a.m., $65 ($55 for students), UArts’ Terra Hall, 211 S. Broad St. More info here.
Existential dilemmas, questions of conscience and magical treatises on daily living (to say nothing of his deconstruction of the detective story) brought the literary toast of Brooklyn Paul Auster to our attention. Since the time of his earliest audacious works The Invention of Solitude, The New York Trilogy and Disappearances: Selected Poems, Auster has become an incisive self-absorbed chronicler of missing fathers, Asceticism, and the algebra of failure. Though a master of fiction and a delight as a poet, Auster is at his fullest as an essayist, and Winter Journal is a personal best. It’s not just that Auster looks upon his own passing of time with glee. He makes the reader part of the joy and melancholy of watching the woman you love sleep or taking an inventory of the scars that we hide.
Tonight, Thu., Sept 13, 7:30 p.m., $7-$15, Free Library of Philadelphia, (central branch), 1901 Vine St., 215-567-4341.
Approaching the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the details of that horrific day may no longer plague our media, but in many ways the aftermath continues to surround us. For author Sander Hicks, even the specific details are still worth talking about. His book Slingshot to the Juggernaut: Total Resistance to Secrecy and War is Total Love for the Truth looks at the self-proclaimed “truth movement” that continues to question the events of 9/11 as they were portrayed by popular media.
Weaving together accounts from both the far left and conservative right, Hicks sheds light on the difficulties of establishing fact from fiction in a story now at the heart of our national identity. Often dismissed as foolish conspiracy, the 9/11 truth movement is re-examined a decade later with fresh evidence and the wisdom of hindsight. Be a part of the conversation this Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Moonstone Arts Center (110A S. 13th St.). Call 215-735-9600 for more info.
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