Philly Writers Resist!

#writersresist    January 15 is the date for Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty. The event is part of PEN America’s country-wide mobilization to let the Trump administration know that we writers will not back down or backtrack when it comes to human rights and civil liberties. I’ll be reading alongside many Philly friends from works that speak to empathy and justice. Nathaniel Popkin, one of the organizers, writes, “We chose the word united because this event is meant to bring us together as a literary community with abundant shared interests. We are poets, novelists, filmmakers, artists, publishers, readers, promoters, journalists, essayists, narrative non-fiction and experimental writers, editors, scholars, and translators, all to say, loudly, that we will stand for the freedoms written right here.”

The event will happen on Independence Mall at the location of the Centennial Religious Freedom sculpture, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and in sight of Independence Hall.
This event is co-facilitated by Nathaniel’s fellow organizers Alicia Askenase and Stephanie Feldman.
Philadelphia #WritersResist: United for Liberty
Sunday January 15, 2017
National Museum of American Jewish History Dell Auditorium
5th and Market Streets
The Museum is generously donating the auditorium for our event.
More on ways you can #WriteOurDemocracy at this link.

Countdown to Philly Poetry Day

#phillypoetryday @phillypoetryday


1:00 – 2:30 pm: Philly Poetry Day gets off to a fun start with a wienie roast and poetry reading at Port Richmond Books, 3037 Richmond Street, sponsored by the 215 Festival and American Poetry Review. Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock headlines, and I’ll be reading a couple of poems, too. It should be beautiful weather. Hope to see some friends there! Then I’ll be hopping down to Center City to take part in a…


20140402-162503.jpg3:00 – 4:30 pm: Philly Poetry Day Gets a Little Sketchy: A Reading at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. On April 12, 2014, join four poets at the Sketch Club in the Exhibition Gallery surrounded by the works of the Small Oils Exhibition. Featuring Juditha Dowd, Kelly McQuain, Helen Mirkil and Wendy Steginsky.

Juditha Dowd is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet with work appearing in The Florida Review, Poetry Daily, Cider Press Review, Spillway, Ekphrasis and elsewhere. Her full-length collection, Mango in Winter (Grayson Books, 2013), joins three previously-published chapbooks. She is a poetry editor for US1 Worksheets and a member of “Cool Women,” an ensemble performing poetry in the metro area and on the west coast.

Wendy Fulton Steginsky traces her passion for poetry back to her Bermuda roots and childhood days growing up on the water. Her poems have been published in two volumes of Bermuda Anthology of Poetry, And The Questions Are Enough, online at tongues of the ocean, The Wild River Review and featured in a multi-media exhibition, Making Magic: Beauty in Word and Image at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Kelly McQuain grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. He holds graduate degrees from the University of New Orleans and Temple University. His recent book Velvet Rodeo is the winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize and his poems have appeared recently in The Pinch, Painted Bride Quarterly, Assaracus, Redivider, MEAD, Paper Nautilus, and Kestrel, as well as in such anthologies as Between: New Gay Poetry and Drawn to Marvel: Superhero Poems. He also writes prose, essays, and book reviews. He occasionally designs book covers, illustrates comics, or draws for the sheer pleasure of it.

Helen Mirkil is both a poet and visual artist. Her recent book Sower on the Cliffs, poems and drawings (BookArts Press 2013) merges her two passions. Her poems have appeared in Apiary (online), Art Times, Bucks County Writer, The Griffin, and Ruah. She received a coordinate BFA from University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as well as an MFA from the Academy. She was awarded a fellowship from the Academy to live and work in Raglan, Wales. Mirkil’s paintings and drawings are part of the permanent collections of several museums in the area.

For other poetry happenings in Philadelphia see




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