The Inquirer’s Kevin Riordan spotlighted Philadelphia’s fluorishing local poetry culture via the excellent Apiary Magazine last week. From the piece itself: “Apiary’s first issue appeared in 2010. The magazine is Philly-centric but hardly parochial; 730 men, women, and children from all over the country submitted poetry and short fiction for the forthcoming Apiary 6.” And “Apiary, a print and online literary magazine as energetic and eclectic as the Philly poetry scene it nurtures.”
By the way, an apiary is, by Webster’s definition: “a place where bees are kept; especially a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey.” Just an FYI.
In a way, poetry’s never really been as sexy as it should be. It’s the art of words, an art form that dwells in ideas and nuance. And an intuitive and sensitive mind, one that cherishes the technicality of expression, doesn’t always lead to a well-attended and buzzworthy event. Poets have often been outsiders, too, writers who’ve known the burden of constant thought interpretation. The poetry reading and writers workshop has always been a haven of judgement-free safety. In the best way possible, the love of letters and expression of free literary thought has been a historic playground for freaks, outcasts, weirdos and philosophers.
With these two big events next week, there’s an opportunity to see just how diverse and lively Philly is as a poetry breeding ground. Apiary’s big on promoting poetry events in Philadelphia, and they’re pushing these two: the Philadelphia Poetry Grand Slam FINALS and the Philly Youth Poetry Movement Grand Slam FINALS. The more-adult Grand Slam Finals are on Friday night, May 3rd, at PhilaMOCA, but it’s still all ages; it’s at 8:30pm, and tickets are $8 in advance (and a little more at the door) and $15 for VIP. The young kids’ll be selling out the Art Museum (the Van Pelt Auditorium) with a quick 5:30pm door and 6pm sharp show time; tickets are $7 for students and the youth and $15 for adults. A special appearance is planned by the Swarthmore College Poetry Team, and last year over 400 people showed up for some slammin’.
Oh, and by the way, Apiary’s been highlighting local writers’ favorite poems all month, so I thought it’d be nice to share one of those here and now. This is Helen W. Mallon’s pick, a writer/writing coach/book reviewer, a(n excerpt from a) poem by Louise Erdrich called “Advice to Myself”:
“Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw out the cracked bowl and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and the the dead
foaming up in grey rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses the toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic–decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks….“
While the majority of the trees and plants around town may still stand depressingly lifeless, our cherry blossoms are officially in full bloom (or at least some).
For those of you who have heard of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, but don’t entirely understand exactly what it entails and why you should care, allow me to break it down. The month-long festival celebrates all things Japanese with a slew citywide events (workshops, performances, screenings, exhibitions, etc.)—DUH—all leading up to the centerpiece event, Sakura Sunday on April 14.
Here are a few of the festivities you can look forward to…
Japanese Culture Week: Now through Thursday, The Shops at Liberty Place are inviting folks of all ages to stop by at lunchtime and discover Japanese culture through and interactive workshop. Today you can make and take an origami folded paper ornament while tomorrow, members of the audience will be selected to experience the intricacies of Kimono dressing. Last but not least, on Thursday, you can learn how to write using Japanese Calligraphy and take home a sample. Daily through Thurs/4, 12-2pm. Free. The Shops at Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut St.
Tamagawa University Taiko Drum and Dance Performance: Tamagawa University, a top-ranking thirty-piece troupe from Japan and the Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance group are joining forces, creating a unique, high-energy performance, equipped with intricate dances, thundering drums and beautiful costumes. Sat/6, 8-10pm $25-$30. The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St.
Madam Saito’s Sushi Making Class: Every sushi lover is dying to learn how to make it themselves and who better to show you than Madame Saito, Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi. More specifically, she’ll be showing participants how to create rolls that taste as good as they look. So be sure to come hungry and with containers so that you can take home your left-overs. Also, you must call and register in advance. Sun/7 & Wed/10, 6:30pm. $30. The Headhouse, 124 Lombard St. 215.922.2515.
Sakura Sunday: If you’re going to go to any Cherry Blossom event, this should be the one. In addition to Japanese food/product vendors, origami and calligraphy workshops, martial arts demos and drum and dance group performances, there’s the annual Harajuku Fashion Show and Prettiest Pet in Pink Parade. Meanwhile, over at the Horticulture Center’s new Sakura Pavilion you can discover the traditional elements of Sakura Sunday—from the Urasenke tea ceremony and the art of flower arrangement, known as ikebana to the elegant Japanese dance, Ichifujikai. Sun/14, 10:30am-4pm. $0-$5. Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Montgomery Dr. & Belmont Ave.
As someone who attended an inner city public high school where creative and professional opportunities were pretty much non-existent, I felt to compelled to share this announcement.
This June, The Art Institute of Philadelphia is offering local high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore one of 14 different creative trades during a hands-on, one-day-only workshop. At each Summer Studio, students will have access to professional-grade tools and technology as they work on real-world projects under the guidance of an experienced faculty member.
What really sold me was the selection of workshops students have to choose from: Advertising; Animation; Audio; Baking & Pastry; Culinary; Digital Filmmaking; Fashion Design; Fashion Marketing; Game Art; Graphic Design; Interior Design; Photography; Visual Effects; and Web Design.
While obviously, The Art Institute is attempting to recruit soon-to-be high school grads, that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that these soon-to-be high school grads will have a chance to see how their passion can be translated into an actual career.
The deadline for registration is June 6 and all of the workshops will be held on June 20 at one of two Center City locations. The $25 dollar registration fee covers the cost of instruction, supplies and lunch for the students.
I can only assume that time is of the essence, so click here for all the deets and sign your kid up ASAP.
Daring dames, First Ladies, riot grrrls, famous Philly females—all are front and center this month as the city celebrates the talents and achievements of awesome women both past and present in honor of Women’s History Month. Here’s a few female-centric happenings local ladies should definitely consider marking down on their calendars.
In conjunction with their current multimedia event Create Chaos!, tonight, Permanent Wave Philly will be hosting a special dance party to raise money for the 10th annual activism, music and arts festival, Ladyfest Philly. Going down June 7-9, each year, the festival honors the artistic, organizational and political work of women, trans, genderqueer, intersex, and queer people with a weekend of workshops, musical performances, discussion groups and other events. If you can’t make it out tonight, no worries—PWP still has plenty of things lined up this month including a feminist photo shoot/live sketch this Saturday and skill share/craft session on March 24. (Fri/8, 9pm. $5-$7. Eris Temple Arts, 602 S. 52nd St.)
The sweet scent of estrogen and creativity will continue to permeate West Philly on Saturday as Vitamin D Productions once again hosts its free all-ages, all-female arts festival showcasing an eclectic group of artists. Using her signature fusion of movement and sound, local physical theater artist, Mira Treatman will be presenting a humorous yet thought-provoking performance piece while the art/music duo, Blown Away will be combining melodic harmonies and projected drawings to create an aural-visual spectacle. Covering the musical portion of evening are New York pop/rock/soul songstress, Lachi; Brooklyn-based poet/rapper, Sam LaRoche and West Philly’s experimental teenage twosome, The Barking Spiders. As always, there will be a deeper message at the core of the event, with this year’s speakers and performers tackling issues relating to abuse and bullying. (Sat/9, 7pm. Free. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.)
Though Philly’s hugely popular storytelling competition always seems to a pretty interesting theme each month, this one might be the best yet. Host Katonya Mosely will open the mic to ladies who’ve got something to say and demand to be heard, regaling the audience with real-life tales of female empowerment. If you yourself have an experience you want to share, feel free to throw your name in the hat. Otherwise, just sit back and let some fascinating women entertain you. (Mon/11, 8:30pm. $8-$10. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St.)
Although typically the best place to learn about a bunch of old affluent white men, this month, the Center is carving out a space for the women who have helped shaped this great nation yet rarely get the credit they deserve in history books. Programming for the exhibit includes a 20-minute interactive show focusing on remarkable women that have called this city home and some of Philly’s “famous female firsts.” Guests can also learn some pretty interesting facts about America’s First Ladies and the role that women played in the Prohibition era. (Daily through March 30. $13-$14. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St.)
This is a strangely tough post to write. On the one hand, there’ve been many times in the past four years when I’ve heard Gaga’s singles come on the radio and I’ve changed the channel; or when they’ve come on at the club I’ve gotten off the dance floor. It’s hard to deny, though, she’s got her brand of pop cultural domination down to a science. And, to her credit, there are a bunch of B-sides and songs buried deeper on her multi-platinum-selling records The Fame (and The Fame Monster) and Born This Way that are delightfully camp and fun. There are a handful of singles, however, like “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” and “Paparazzi” that’ve gotten maybe just a little too much air play and club spins. And personally, I think there are just so many other pop divas that are way more creative, entertaining and sonically original than Stefani Germanotta’s brand of over-the-top, dance-heavy, electronic-friendly pop. Much ink has been spilled on the topic of Gaga being derivative, especially the single “Born This Way” and its aural relationship to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” And there’s no way you can listen to her records and NOT hear a little bit of Cher, Madonna, Kylie, or Gwen Stefani, let alone Queen, Bowie and other glam pop bands of the ’70s and ’80s. But this is all to say, there’s no hate here. She’s an LGBT hero and she is literally putting her money where her mouth is.
On this Born This Way Ball tour, a tour she’s already dragged across Asia and Europe, she’s actually bringing along an entirely separate bus connected to the Born This Way Foundation she founded last year with $1.2 million of her own dollars. The Born Brave Bus Tour is available to 13 to 25-year-olds, ticket holders or not, for three hours outside of each venue along her stadium-sized tour, seeking all kind of things: help, guidance, support, direction, or just someone to listen. The bus sets up a system of pods, basically, where teens and twenty-somethings can be guided towards information about mental health, anti-bullying resources, local support networks or just network with other little monsters in their area to make themselves feel not so alone. The bus is helmed by a Dr. Sue Swearer, the bus team’s lead behavioral health counselor, a veteran in the field of bullying and LGBT youth outreach. And even she’s been moved by what she’s seen since the bus began, in earnest, to change young people’s lives just last month in Tacoma, WA. The fact that these services are available to more than just ticketholders is inspiring and unbelievably philanthropic. In this informative Rolling Stone piece, she (via the Born This Way Foundation’s chief ambassador and singer/performance artist, Breedlove) says that this Brave Bus initiative is “the most important thing in her life right now.” Pretty awesome.
There’s no denying her success. Millions of fans worldwide will be pouring in from miles around to catch her at the Wells Fargo Center on two consecutive nights. After she leaves Philly she’ll take to NYC’s Madison Square Garden for two nights and another night at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center a couple weeks later. Philadelphia’s lucky to be one of the handful of two-city stops on this tour, seemingly the last effort to perform her catalogue of dance party burners before a new record of material, Artpop, which is anticipated to drop sometime this spring.
The Fame’s arrival in 2008 was a surprisingly slow build. It wasn’t until 2009 that “Just Dance” became ubiquitous and started soaring up Dance, Pop and Radio charts. But sure enough, combined with the extended play, The Fame Monster, which hit audiences about 14 months after The Fame, has gone 3 times platinum in the U.S. and sold 15,000,000 copies worldwide. When you put those kind of numbers together with the two massive tours she undertook, The Fame Ball Tour and the Monster Ball Tour, the latter of which was one of the biggest selling tours in the past five years, you can’t deny she’s one of the biggest and most powerful pop stars in the game/to date. And with, essentially, two LPs. It’s mind-boggling.
But when a pop star puts over a million of her own dollars, and gets all kinds of scientific and academic organizations to get on board, into a charitable effort that seeks primarily to empower troubled and scared young people, you learn to love the 101st time you hear “Just Dance” come on at Woody’s at 1:45a.
Lastly, if you’ve read this post and thought of a young person in your life who would benefit from the Born Brave Bus’s two evenings at the Wells Fargo Center on the 19th and the 20th, please forward this link along as a gesture of good faith: you’re not alone, you are loved, it gets better, and Lady Gaga cares about you.
I got a rare opportunity today. Disclaimer: my friend, Jestis Deuerlein, is going to be a major player in this exciting cultural movement coming to Northern Liberties. She’s going to be helming some event planning and has a ton of infectious enthusiasm about the space, what’s going to go down there and how so many Philadelphians are going to reap the boundless potential of this incredibly multi-functioning space. Before I get down to the virtual tour, feel free to do a little reading up on exactly what 3rd Ward is. Here’s the two-second version of what they do from the horse’s mouth:
“3rd Ward is a multi-disciplinary workspace and education center. Here, you can take advantage of our Wood Shop, Metal Shop, Photo Studios, Jewelry Studios and Coworking Space, as well as learn new skills in one of our many classes. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a creative outlet, or a seasoned professional in search of a full-time workspace solution, 3rd Ward can help.”
And they’re bringing this spirit of creativity and community to Philadelphia in a matter of months. We won’t try to name a date at this time but you can bet you’ll be kept abreast of the space’s grand opening (almost definitely with a big, fat party).
For one, as a music journalist, I’m pumped about this as a space for dance parties, music events, performances and art parties. There will basically be two performance/event spaces; one on the first and one on the second floor which extends out onto an open-air roof-top deck. The third floor is a sickeningly sprawling and beautiful co-work space, but more on that later.
This is a pretty odd neighborhood, let’s be real. I used to live over here. Just a few blocks north of Girard and west of Front isn’t what you’d call a vibrant or distinct neighborhood. Sure, there’s a bunch of great things in this odd mix of Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington and North Philly: the robust strip of 2nd Street between Girard and Spring Garden, the newly-bustling Super Fresh, and stuff like Johnny Brenda’s, Kung Fu Necktie, El Bar and Fishtown Tavern. This is all to say ‘This space is going to do good by lots of people, including the neighborhood.’
So let’s start at the ground floor. The two main entrances will open up to a big combo restuarant/cafe/performance/art show space (above, left) and to a reception-y welcome center. Curious about the restaurant space? Check out Stone Park Cafe in Brooklyn – they’ll be related. In the back is a massive metal and wood shop. The cafe space will also feature loads of outdoor seating, perfect for its slated summer opening. The second floor is a home for a handful of classroomy spaces including what will be a huge work kitchen, and, perhaps the crown jewel of this whole endeavor, a lovely small/mid-sized outdoor patio (above, right) with room for a projection wall, maybe a small bar, a DJ booth and around 100 people. I can already see the artsy folk in their shorts and sun dresses mingling under the stars.
Upstairs, on the top and third floor, is one of the biggest and most beautiful co-op/co-work spaces I’ve ever seen. This puts the Flavorpill office in SoHo where I interned five years ago to shame. Beautifully restored finishes and wood floors, endless snaking cubicles and phone call booths will make this one whacky-ass floor full of people looking for a home base for their young company or their freelancing needs. As our economy still figures out what’s going on and young folks are smacked in the face with the reality that freelancing is the future, not staff jobs, it’s possible this space will be a bustling and thriving epicenter of Philadelphia’s already-strong-but-still-blossoming intellectual and literary culture. Not to mention all the artists/crafters/designers/printers/tech nerds that’ll benefit from work spaces and opportunites to get their work seen (and bought).
The space is freakin’ 27,000 square feet. PW will definitely be keeping an eye on the opening, the class and events lineup and welcome newly-hired members of a powerful 3rd Ward team.
If you read PW’s art column this week and thought, ‘Wow, this show sounds really cool,’ then you might be interested to know that Permanent Wave Philly will actually be hosting a slew of cool events in conjunction with Create Chaos! at Eris Temple Arts in West Philly (602 S. 52nd St.) through the end of March.
Unfortunately, that paragraph got cut from the article, so allow me to address a few of those now.
The most imaginative event the local feminist art/activist network has in store will actually be going down tomorrow night from 6-8pm, titled “Cocktails, Schmocktails: A Feminist Re-Appropriation of the Bar Menu.” After taking a deeper look at the various sexist norms of our bar culture, guests will flip those norms the finger, mixing up their own drinks with a feminist twist.
If you’re busy tomorrow, I’d highly recommend checking out the show on March 2 at 7 p.m. when Permanent Wave will also be hosting a screening of “Wonder Women!: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.” The documentary examines the fascinating legacy of Wonder Woman as an ever-evolving symbol of society’s anxieties about women’s lib. I had a chance to see this during the Philly Comic Con and I give it two thumbs up.
Seemingly just as fascinating is the film they’ll be screening next Saturday (Feb. 2, 7pm), “The Purity Myth: The Virginity Movement’s War,” an adaptation of feminist blogger, Jessica Valenti’s book which offers a timely critique of America’s obsession with virginity and how it affects women’s rights.
Also scheduled are two open mics/jam sessions (Feb. 23 & March 23, 7pm), a skill share and craft session (March 24, 2pm) and a feminist photo shoot/live sketch (March 9, 12pm/5pm). Last but not least, for the closing reception of Create Chaos!, Permanent Wave Philly will be throwing a two-day festival from March 30-31, featuring a slew of performances from indie local musicians as well as the show’s featured artists. Hopefully that includes heavenly singer-songwriter, Liz Ciavolino, who freakin’ rocked the harp at the opening reception.
Though all of these events are free and open to anyone with an open mind, be sure to bring some cash for their donations jar so that this awesome community of talented females can continue spreading their messages of equality and empowerment.
If you’re interested in getting involved with Permanent Wave Philly or would like to stay abreast (get it?) of their upcoming events, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to their listserv. Even easier, go ahead and “Like” them on Facebook.