New City Press presented a Festival of Writing with workshops offered in performance, poetic inspiration, creative poetic forms, and the significance of class in society.
The day-long event was sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia and WHYY on Saturday October 7. The Festival was held at the main branch of the Free Library from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
The day was free to the public for anyone not fully employed, and all events were run by volunteers.
New City Press presented the festival along with the release of Open City: A Journal of Community Arts and Culture (www.temple.edu/isllc/ncp).
New City Press is housed at Temple on the tenth floor of Anderson Hall, where August Tarrier heads editing and Steve Parks runs the publishing department.
Open City is published biannually by the Institute for the Study of Literacy, Literacy and Culture and Teachers for a Democratic Culture (www.temple.edu/tdc), also housed on the tenth floor.
All workshops took place in the morning. After lunch Lorene Cary, author of Pride (1998), presented the keynote address. While explaining inspiration for her work she noted the reason she is able to do her work is assistance from others.
She continued on to thank the attendees for their “commitment, energy and fun.” After classifying writing as “.an act of courage,” she discussed the impact of writing. For the creator writing creates “internal transformation” while on the outside it lets one “relate to writers.”
Cary said, ” [writing] lets us discuss publicly things which we can’t discuss politically.”
This was one of the main concepts associated with festival. Group and individual performances began at 2:00pm. The group from `Bust-A-Lip’ headed up by Patricia Johnson began the presentations. Her group of high school age kids performed `I Left My Friend’ by Langston Hughes and `Crowded Tub’ by Shel Sylverstein, presenting each poem in a group format.
The second group was the workshop considering questions of class. Led by Tim Diggles and Richard McKeever from the England based Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers the group presented a poem from excerpts (eq. “Class is a cancer in the body of community”). They concluded that the English and American view of class are very different.
The Open City magazine displays art of school children alongside work from amateur photographers and writers. This is so that all of the works are purposefully represented equally.
This idea was conceived almost twenty-five years ago in Stoke-on-Trent, England when the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers was founded. The FWWCP is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to community publishers and writers. The New City Press joined the organization this year. The Federation holds the same beliefs about democracy and inclusiveness and holds artistic creation for anyone as equally valid and respected. The FWWCP publishes a magazine quarterly and a broadsheet- a four-page collection of writing- and sponsors an annual writing festival.
They are considering publishing a broadsheet based upon works collected during this Philadelphia trip, and have in the past published works by students from Philadelphia’s Edison High School.
Publisher Steve Parks contacted Tim Diggles from the Federation after finding out about the group via the Internet. Shortly afterwards Parks took a trip to London to see the organization in action