Community Creative Writing Workshops
- Creative Writing Program
- Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, School of Arts & Sciences
- Provosts Interdisciplinary Grant
The Creative Writing Program offered two not-for-credit creative writing workshops in the 2018-2019 school year to members of the Penn and wider Philadelphia community that will cultivate interdisciplinary and community collaboration between the Creative Writing Program, the Theatre Arts Program, and other constituencies on and off campus.
In spring 2019, as this project was coming to an end, Erin O’Malley (C ’21), Communications and Student Engagement Associate, interviewed Julia Bloch, Director of the Creative Writing Program, about the Community Creative Writing Workshops. The following feature has been edited from that conversation.
As a part of their expansive programming, the Penn Creative Writing Program offered two not-for-credit creative writing workshops this past fall and winter of 2018. Funded by a 2018 Provost Interdisciplinary grant from The Sachs Program, the playwriting and short fiction workshops were open to any member of the Penn or Philadelphia community as an expansion of the Penn Creative Writing Program’s regular programming, including readings and conversations with visiting writers and collaborative events with the Kelly Writers House and the English Department.
Taught by Tina Satter, a playwright, director, and the artistic director of the Obie-Winning New York City-based theater company Half Straddle, the playwriting workshop, The Depth of Surfaces: Generative Writing + Directing for Performance, was designed with the aim of guiding students in producing new work and from writing and directing exercises.
The short fiction workshop was led by local Philly writer Elysha Chang, a Kundiman Fellow whose work appears in Fence Magazine, GQ, The Rumpus and elsewhere. Students who participated in this workshop developed and edited original pieces of short fiction.
Creative Writing Program Director Julia Bloch says that these workshops have brought together writers of all levels from the Philadelphia and Penn communities—ranging from leaders in the Philadelphia literary and theater communities to Penn students with an interest in creative writing who usually don’t have the time to take a creative writing class— and given them the opportunity to create a community from writing together. Bloch cultivated her passion for bringing creative writing to those beyond Penn’s campus through her previous role as the Associate Director of the Kelly Writers House and wanted to make the Creative Writing Program’s curriculum available to the greater community.
Although both workshops only had a few sessions, a strong sense of community grew from these intensives. Workshop participants turned their meetings into potlucks where they read and wrote over shared meals, with the playwriting workshop meeting over the course of a February weekend in 2019 and the short fiction workshop getting together for three sessions during October and November of 2018. “The people who were able to come into these workshops were incredibly generous,” says Bloch. “I’ve learned that there is a real hunger for creative writing resources in the Philadelphia area.”
- Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
- Presenting Art Grant
- Provosts Interdisciplinary
- School of Arts & Sciences