Frank Sherlock is the new Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Posted on January 31, 2014
Back in 2011, I organized a Poetry Walk with my students and some friends so we could traipse South Philly and read the poems Frank Sherlock had in newspaper boxes all along Passyunk Avenue. In the photo, you can see him holding one of the broadsides featuring his work. It was a rainy day during the Italian Market Festival. I didn’t know Frank well, knowing him from readings around town, but he was gracious enough to join us when I reached out to him. I’ve gotten to know Frank better since. He’s a fixture at Dirty Frank’s, where he works as a doorman, a place I frequented more often years ago with poet Valerie Fox, long before Frank worked there. (Valerie and I collaborated on poems at the time. I still recall the day she got an ankle tattoo and we washed away her pain over a pitcher of Yuengling as we wrote.)

Anyway, Frank’s project was part of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, an initiative to tell the stories of immigrant groups who have made the Market home. I loved how this poetry/history project was happening in my own backyard. Frank read his poems at each stop, and also hung out awhile after. Today I learned he’s the new Philadelphia Poet Laureate. Frank’s kind spirit has been rewarded more and more of late. It’s nice when good things happen to talented, kind people. Kudos! –Kelly McQuain

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Photo by John Green



Fergie’s Reading 1/22/14 will also feature music!

#TheDivers #Poetry #Moonstone
After our poetry reading Wednesday 1/22, The Divers will play at Fergie’s Pub.

For details on the reading, check out the last blog post or this link:



I am reading in January 2014 with two exciting poets in Philadelphia! #poetry reading
Here are details:

1/22/14. “MOONSTONE POETRY @ FERGIE’S PUB: NEW YEAR, NEW IDEAS” featuring KELLY MCQUAIN, ELIZABETH SCANLON& ERIC NORRIS. Wed., 1-22-14. The event will begin at 7 pm; open mic to follow. Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.

ELIZABETH SCANLON is an Editor of The American Poetry Review. Her new chapbook, Odd Regard, is available from ixnay press. Her newest play, Everyone and I, based on the work of Frank O’Hara, premiered at the Kimmel Center in 2013. She also teaches poetry at The University of the Arts.

ERIC NORRIS travels from New York to Philly to join the reading. Eric is the author of 3 books: Terence, Nocturnal Omissions—with Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, and Cock Sucking (On Mars). He is presently putting the finishing touches on his fourth book, Mad Boys. He is a founding editor of the online poetry journal Kin ( Eric is also a co-host of the Carmine Street Metrics reading series at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.

KELLY MCQUAIN’s chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, was recently selected as winner of Bloom Press’s poetry prize. His poems appear in The Pinch, Weave, Painted Bride Quarterly, Assaracus, Kin and Mead, as well as in such anthologies as Drawn to Marvel and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. His fiction has appeared in Best American Erotica and Men on Men 2000. Recently his poem, “Camping as Boys in the Cow Field”, was selected as the winner of Redivider’s AWP poetry contest. McQuain is a professor at Community College of Philadelphia.

Here is a link to a sound file of one of Eric’s poems:

Here is the mural on Fergie’s Pub. If you find this, you are almost there!


Drawn to Marvel: New Poem and My Winning Cover Art

#superhero #poetry #MinorArcanPress
A few weeks ago I learned one of my poems will appear in DRAWN TO MARVEL, an anthology of superhero poems. Minor Arcana Press also had a contest for cover art for the book. I entered that too, and my illustration won. A color version of my black and white drawing will appear as the anthology cover for the collection, due out in February 2014.

I’m a big comics fan, ever s1618688_10152209210262767_1748073505_nince my step-grandfather gave me a box of comics when I was six years old. Waaaay back in the day, while I toiled as an adjunct English teacher, I also used to illustrate comic books for a now-defunct company called Comico. The stories were written by Bill Willingham, who went on to fame writing the Fables series for DC. Through no fault of Mr. Willingham (I remain a fan), my Comico time ended up being a bad experience (the publisher folded; artwork and paychecks disappeared into the ether). With this cover, it was nice to dip my little toe back in the world of comics for a bit. Evan Peterson, the brains behind Minor Arcana, made it especially pleasurable. My thanks to him and to the editors, Bryan Dietrich and Marta Ferguson, as well as to Anne Bean, who will be designing the book and serving as colorist. If you are a fan of superheroes, poetry, or both, look for this title soon, where you will find my ode to Vampirella, the bikini-wearing superhero from Drakulon, an underground comics favorite! Get a sneak peak of the B&W artwork at this link:


Creative Writing at CCP–Come Study With Me!

Creative Writing at Community College of Philadelphia – January 2014
Need to develop a portfolio of your creative writing? Consider taking English 285 at Community College of Philadelphia. English 285: THE WRITING PORTFOLIO is ideal for advanced writers who want to develop a portfolio to submit to create a writing programs, writing contests or publishers. English 285 – Writing Portfolio helps writers polish old work and start new projects. It’s a mixed-genre workshop consisting of poets, story writers and essayists who are seeking to take their work to the next level. We will workshop stories, poems and essays and discuss aspects of the writer’s life, which will include exploring the rich opportunities of the Philadelphia writing community. Several of my students have gone on to get their MA’s, MFA’s and Ph D’s in creative writing and publishing, and to start literary magazines that draw local and national attention. In addition, CCP classes are among the most inexpensive college courses in the region.

As a teacher, I have over twenty years of experience. I have also freelanced for newspapers like The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly and The City Paper in addition to serving as a contributing editor for two national publications. My own stories, poems and essays have been anthologized numerous times and my work has appeared in such journals as The Pinch, Painted Bride Quarterly, American Writing, Paper Nautilus, Assaracus and more. I’ve won awards and fellowships for my work, including two from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in fiction and nonfiction, as well as a prize for my forthcoming collection of poems, Velvet Rodeo. I run an independent literary salon called Poetdelphia (find us on Facebook!), I work with the One Book, One Philadelphia program, and I run the Poets and Writers’ Festival at CCP. This is all to say that I have a lot of experience that I can put to work for you. Because the course has prerequisites, student candidates outside the CCP Creative Writing Certificate Program will need to submit a short writing sample in the genre of their choice. If you are interested, email me a brief letter describing your writing projects and a work sample of up to five pages (excerpts from longer works are okay). Send to kmcquain [at] and please CC the Director of the Certificate Program in Creative Writing, Jeff Markovitz (jmarkovitz [at] since you will need his approval to waive the prerequisites for the course. If you have friends who have been working hard on their writing, please tell them about this opportunity.

ENGL 285: Writing Portfolio – ENGL 285-001 16149 Class WEDNESDAY EVENING 6:00 pm-8:55 pm in WINNET S3-07 The first class is January 15th.

Resolution for Revolution

Resolution for Revolution: I’ve mostly given up using social media as a soapbox for political musings, but as 2014 gets under way, I have to wonder: Why is our government allowing the statue of limitations to pass with no prosecution of the bigwigs responsible for the country’s recent financial collapse ( Whatever happened to the energy behind the Occupy Movement? Why do we allow ourselves to live in a country where mainstream media covers Duck Dynasty controversies but won’t report on the peaceful overthrow of Iceland’s government ( )? Some days, if it wasn’t for NPR and BBC World News, I think I’d go mad.

Do things just have to get really, really worse before people tear themselves away from the electronic gadgets and pop culture panaceas the One Percent Oligarchy throw at us as a distraction? Just because we have more gizmos doesn’t mean we are working fewer hours or working more wisely. I love pop culture and art for art’s sake as much as the next person, but I also crave leaders, artists and shamans who know the lessons of history and literature and can use them as fulcrum to motivate people and launch a better future. Revolution is largely a young person’s game, and I hope tomorrow’s leaders rise up from the ashes of Occupy or some other dormant phoenix nest. Here’s hoping the remainder of this decade will bring on beneficial social change and that art will revolutionize worlds both intensely personal and globally political.

More and more, I realize what needs to be held onto is the timeless essence that hides inside the fleeting moment.

Revolution is hard work, but often non in the way we intend it to be.