Reflections on the Philadelphia Writers Conference 2019

What happens when you get over 125 writers together in one place and give them prompts, papers and pens?  I found out when I attended the Philadelphia Writers Conference for the first time about a two weeks ago.

Schedule and cover image
Schedule and cover image from Philadelphia Writers Conference

I attended several workshops and was really inspired by the one on using color that was facilitated by the wonderful Philly poet Yolanda Wisher.  After reading a masterful poem called “Blue” by Yusef Komunyakaa, we all tried our hand at a similar piece after selecting a line of his as a jumping off point.  Wow!  The five of us went in all different directions, and I felt like I’d been given a jolt of lightening energy to infuse my work with freshness. Yolanda gave us paint chips to take home and assigned us the task of writing a poem with words like rust, pilgrimage foliage, and aztec brick—I’m still working on that poem. And Sunday morning was a pairing of watercolors and poetry—here’s a picture of the final product.

Color Workshop
Painting and poem from Yoland Wisher’s Poetry Color Study workshop

Another high point of the conference came with a workshop led by the keynote speaker and prolific author Jonathan Maberry. He showed us how to create a pitch for agents that would generate a request for a proposal or a manuscript. All I can say is that I rewrote my pitch immediately and two out of three agents I met with asked for a proposal. All three complimented the pitch. Thank you, Jonathan.

Asali Solomon gave an impressive welcoming speech which encouraged all of us to write about the macro issues of the day using the micro lens of our own experiences. Sandy Shea, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, led us in a thoughtful workshop on how to craft an op-ed for publication, and lastly, Jenn McCreary led us in a fabulous workshop on the political nature and uses of erasure poetry.

Brovo is all I can say. Well worth the time and money to go to Philly for the workshops alone. The planning committee is taking a year off to regroup and plan for updates, but they’ll be back in 2021. So will I!

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