A Celebration of Philadelphia Writers

The Penn Humanities Forum is staging its first major town-gown event, joining with Philadelphia historical and cultural institutions to present readings, performances, and exhibitions that celebrate the city's unique heritage and ongoing achievements in literature and poetry. Three walking tours take in many of the scenes of Philadelphia authors' lives and works. All events are open to the public, and are free unless indicated ($$). For more information call (215) 898-8220.

 Friday, March 26

8-10 a.m., Breakfast at White Dog Cafe:

"So, you want to Get Published?" ($$) (reservations: call White Dog Cafe (215) 386-9224)

Learn about what publishers are looking for from Jennifer Worick and Mary McGuire Ruggiero, Running Press Book Publishers, a publisher of non-fiction trade books, including Daughters and Mothers, Georges Perrier-Le Bec-Fin Recipes, Sisters, and the White Dog Cafe Cookbook.

10 a.m.-noon, Communities and Writers

(200 College Hall)

--Opening: Humanities Forum Director Wendy Steiner and SAS Dean Samuel H. Preston.

--Readings that address Philadelphia's diverse writing communities: political, religious, ethnic, or non-conformist and "noir".

--Buzz Bissinger, Diana Cavallo, Christopher Looby, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Elisa New, Chaim Potok.

noon-2 p.m., Writing in Philly/Luncheon

(Palladium Restaurant) ($$) Reservations required. Tickets: $25. Call (215) 898-8220.

--Philadelphia in song and in art

--Panel of writers discussing the role of Philadelphia in their work: Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Murray Dubin, Steve Lopez, Signe Wilkinson.

2-4 p.m., Philadelphia in Film

(Logan Hall, Terrace Room)

--Film clips of Philadelphia

--Philadelphia's three cinematic identities: Historic Philadelphia, Ethnic Neighborhoods, and the Main Line, presented by Jim English, John Katz, Millicent Marcus.

--Philly Film directors: Jane Wagner and Tina DiFeliciantonio, Louis Massiah, and M. Night Shyamalan.

4:15-5:30 p.m., Exhibition Opening and Book Signing (Rosenwald Gallery, Van Pelt Library)

--Welcome: SAS Assoc.Dean Rebecca Bushnell

--Al Filreis on Kelly Writers House

--Reception and book signings by Philadelphia writers: Stephen Berg, Carole Bernstein, Buzz Bissinger, Charles Blockson, David Bradley, Rebecca Bushnell, Lorene Cary, Diana Cavallo, Peter Conn, Greg Djanikian, Murray Dubin, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Paul Fussell, Farah Griffin, Paul Hendrickson, Edward Hirsch, Daniel Hoffman, Kristin Hunter Lattany, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Bob Perelman, Charlotte Pierce-Baker, John Prendergast, John Richetti, Alan Singer, Wendy Steiner, Susan Stewart, William F. Van Wert, Eleanor Wilner, Michael Vitez, and Ben Yagoda.

5:30-7:30 p.m., Philadelphia Small Presses Dinner (Kelly Writers House)

--Short talks by area publishers: Beautiful Swimmer, Combo, CrossConnect, pH, Philly Talks

8 p.m.-midnight, Interplay of Philadelphia Jazz and Poetry, 8-10 p.m. (Clef Club) ($$) Reservations required/seating limited. $10.

--Pianist Guthrie Ramsey and vocalist Audrey Smith-Bey

--Readings: Sonia Sanchez; Ntozake Shange

--Farah Griffin on Philly jazz and poetry

--Jazz performance by the Odean Pope Trio

Open Mike Poetry Jam hosted by Kelly Writers House 10-midnight, $5.

8 p.m., The Chosen (by Chaim Potok; adapted for the stage by Chaim Potok and Aaron Posner), Arden Theatre Company ($$) (Call (215) 922-1122 for tickets/reservations).

--Informal discussion w/Aaron Posner.

Saturday, March 27

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Philadelphia Readings and Exhibitions; exhibitions of historical literary documents with continuous readings by Philadelphia writers and scholars at sites throughout the city.

Free trolley transportation to each reading site will be provided compliments of Philadelphia Trolley Works. Trolleys will stop every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at each reading site.

Library of the American Philosophical Society, 105 S. Fifth Street (between Chestnut and Walnut-entrance on Library Street)

Non-fiction readings by:

--Paul Fussell (11 a.m.)

--Paul Hendrickson (11:30 a.m.)

--Joan Mellen (noon)

--Karen Rile (12:30 p.m.)

--Ben Yagoda (1 p.m.)

--Wendy Steiner (1:30 p.m.)

On Exhibit: Early Philadelphia Naturalists and Their Writings: Works by John Bartram, William Bartram and Alexander Wilson.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, 532 N. Seventh Street (at Spring Garden)

--Short Video on Edgar Allen Poe (11 a.m.)

--Poe readings by:

  • Daniel Hoffman (11:15 a.m.)
  • Rebecca Bushnell (11:45 a.m.)
  • John Prendergast (12:15 p.m.)
  • Helen McKenna-Uff (1:15 p.m.)

--Historical tour of Poe's last and only surviving home in Philadelphia (12:45 p.m.)

On Exhibit: To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Poe's death, first editions on loan from the Richmond Poe Museum.

Franklin Inn, 205 S. Camac Street (between Broad & 13th, near Locust)

Historical readings by:

-- Jerry McFadden (Introduction) (11 a.m)

--Christopher Looby (11:05 a.m.)

--Diana Cavallo (11:30 a.m.)

--John Richetti (noon)

--Eric Cheyfitz (12:30 p.m.)

--Michael Awkward (1 p.m.)

--Michael Vitez (1:30 p.m.)

On Display: Books by Philadelphia writers and illustrators who have been members of the Franklin Inn.

Library Company of Philadelphia,

1314 Locust Street

Fiction readings by:

-Toby Olson (11:05 a.m.)

-Kristin Hunter Lattany (11:30 a.m.)

-Albert DiBartolomeo (noon)

--Alan Singer (12:30 p.m.)

--Diane McKinney-Whetstone (1 p.m.)

--William Van Wert (1:30 p.m.)

On Exhibit: The Literary Culture of Afro-Philadelphia: Books, pamphlets, and manuscripts by Philadelphia African-American writers.

Race Street Meeting House, 1501 Cherry Street

Quaker readings by:

--Margaret Hope Bacon (11 a.m.)

--Nancy Bentley (11:30 a.m.)

--Richard Dunn (noon)

--Daniel Hoffman (12:30 p.m.)

--Peter Conn (1 p.m.)

--Janice L. Booker (1:30 p.m.)

Rosenbach Museum & Library,

2010 DeLancey Place

Poetry readings by:

--Susan Stewart (11:05 a.m.)

--Greg Djanikian (11:30 a.m.)

--Carole Bernstein (11:55 a.m.)

--Bob Perelman (12:15 p.m.)

--Rachel Blau Duplessis (12:40 p.m.)

--Herman Beavers (1:05 p.m.)

--Daniel Hoffman (1:30 p.m.)

On Exhibit: Benjamin Franklin's holograph manuscript of "Little Bagatelle" (later known as "Story of a Whistle"); Franklin imprints, including the only surviving copy of the first edition of Poor Richard's Almanack for the year 1733; a contemporary manuscript poem on the death of Franklin by Annis Boudinot Stockton; engraved portraits and other images of Franklin.

Poor Richard's Walking Tours of Literary Philadelphia ($$): each is a one-hour guided walking tour of literary Philadelphia; $5 donation.

11 a.m.-noon: Tour 1: Print Culture in Colonial Philadelphia and the Early Republic; the intellectual history of the Quaker City does not begin with novels and other literary endeavors, but rather the broad sheets of Benjamin Franklin, the radical pamphlets of Thomas Paine, and the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. Come spend an hour in the 18th century city where coffeehouses really did breed revolution!

Begin: In front of the American Philosophical Society (105 S. Fifth St.);End: At the American Philosophical Society.

Noon-1 p.m.: Tour 2: Literature and the Industrial Metropolis; the 19th century saw an industrial revolution in print and Philadelphia was at the center of it. This walk will head west from the Independence Park district to explore the literary scene (including Edgar Allan Poe, Amos Bronson Alcott, and James Fenimore Cooper) which followed the advent of national circulation magazines.

Begin: In front of the American Philosophical Society; End: At the Library Company of Philadelphia (Broad and Locust Streets).

1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Tour 3: The South Street Novels and Post-Industrial Philadelphia; Philadelphia as a city of workers-and their fates in the face of a withering manufacturing base-has been the subject of many Philadelphia writers: from the academic, as seen in the sociological studies of W.E.B. DuBois, to the muckraking, in Lincoln Steffens's Shame of the Cities, to the literary, in the novels of David Bradley, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, and Peter Dexter.Visit the settings and subjects of such socially-engaged works as we discuss the plight of an aging industrial city.

Begin: In front of the Rosenbach Museum and Library; End: South Street.

11 a.m.-1 p.m., Readings by emerging writers coordinated by Kelly Writers House, at three Center City XandO locations:

  • 235 S. 15th Street,
  • 1128 Walnut Street, and
  • 325 Chestnut Street.

2:30-4:30 p.m., Main Program, Free Library of Philadelphia auditorium

--Welcome: Mayor Ed Rendell

--Welcome: Elliot Shelkrot, Free Library

--Major Philadelphia writers read historical documents and their work: John Edgar Wideman, David Bradley, Lorene Cary, C.K. Williams, Eleanor Wilner, Edward Hirsch

--Readings by winners of the Maurice English Foundation for Poetry Contest: students in Philadelphlia high schools wrote about the city.

--Closing: Wendy Steiner, director, Penn Humanities Forum and the Richard L. Fisher Professor and Chair of English

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 24, March 16, 1999