Drexel Writing Festival kicks off | The Triangle

Drexel Writing Festival kicks off

Photo by Evie Touring | The Triangle

Last week, Drexel’s 13th annual writing festival kicked off with two discussions and a day of high school workshops. It will continue through May 8. This spring, the festival includes author talks, live readings and a networking opportunity with a literary agent. New this year, these events will take place during existing class periods. All events are free and open to the public and are intended to “help students from any major think more deeply about the wonderful world of writing,” according to English Department Head Roger Kurtz. 

On Wednesday, April 10, poet and essayist Heather Lanier began the festivities by leading a discussion in MacAlister Hall. She read from her memoir, “Raising a Rare Girl,” and from her poetry collection, “Psalms of Unknowing.” In between readings she discussed disability as an aspect of diversity.

The following Monday, April 15, trans essayist, poet and performer Iván Monalisa Ojeda led a reading and discussion. Ojeda Monalisa treated students to a reading of an excerpt from one of his/her plays, followed by a lively discussion. Topics ranged from the legalization of sex work in New York City to the relationship between OjedaMonalisa’s queer identity and his/her Catholic upbringing.

Sammy Wiener, a Film and TV Production major who attended the talk, said he was able to gain insights from the talk that he could apply to his own writing. “It was interesting learning about their [OjedaMonalisa’s] experience and as a writer talking about these very intimate moments.” Wiener said he learned “emotional writing, and writing about personal experience is something you have to write right when you feel it.” In addition to the reading and discussion, participants were served Insomnia Cookies, and two raffle winners received signed copies of one of OjedaMonalisa’s books. 

There will be four more author talks before May 8. These will include a discussion and workshop with author Marc McBeth on queer literacies, a discussion of English accents in media with Rachel Reynolds, a reading by novelist John Vercher of his upcoming novel (set to be released in June), and a meeting with literary agent Barbara Jones. Organizer Henry Israeli hopes that these events will allow participants to “feel the exhilaration of hearing professional writers read and discuss their work.” More information can be found at the Drexel Writing Festival website

In addition to the talks, the Drexel Writing Festival includes two workshops for high school students. They are led mainly by Drexel professors and cover creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The first of these events took place on Friday, April 12. Participants included 165 students from nine different highschools, mainly located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. According to organizer Janine Guerra, students were able to “brainstorm and advance their creative processes with our workshop leaders who are experts in their field” as well as gain exposure to writing programs at Drexel. This event was highly popular: 46 schools showed interest, representing over 880 students, according to Guerra. The university is considering expanding this high school outreach model into other disciplines including the STEM fields, social sciences and other disciplines in the humanities.

The Drexel Writing Festival offers a variety of programs targeted at fiction and non-fiction writers at Drexel, as well as aspiring writers from local high schools, celebrating the art of writing in all its forms. Students passionate about writing can attend the upcoming events to continue learning about the craft and meeting other writers.