Dear Poets and Friends,

I’m happy to say that Philadelphia Poets’ 2015 issue, Volume 21, is now available. A celebratory Book Launch will take place on Wednesday, May 20th, when many poets featured in the issue will be present to participate in the reading and autograph the new issue.

Volume 21 contains 176 pages of the poetry of 54 poets, including a special section of Italian/American poets. The front cover features the work of Julian R. Fama, entitled “Self-portrait Collage: Reincarnated,” which ties in with the special section, as do two inside illustrations by John Costanza, noted artist and sculptor.



Date: Wednesday, May 20th

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Place: Fumo Family Library, Broad & Porter

For more information, see the attached flyer.



Date: Wednesday, June 10th

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Place: Fumo Family Library


Judge ML Polak has made her selections for the 9th Annual John and Rose Petracca and Family Award, and the winners will be announced soon. The votes for the 10th Annual Amy Tritsch Needle Award, selected by readers, will also soon be announced. The winning poems were in the 2014, Volume 20 issue of Philadelphia Poets. More about the June 10th reading after the winners have been notified.


Cost per issue is as follows: $20, $15 for senior citizens, and $10 for those whose work appears in the book (after they’ve received their complimentary copy). If mailing is necessary, add $4 postage and handling in the U.S.A.  Checks should be made payable to Rosemary Cappello.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Fumo on May 20th

headEmily Cole is this year’s winner of the Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry. She was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions about her process, plans, and love of poetry and music.

Congratulations on winning the Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry for your poem, Self-Portrait as Rapunzel. Can you tell me about what inspired you to write this poem?

Thank you! “Self-Portrait as Rapunzel” is, in many ways, a family poem, so it’s mostly inspired by my relationship with my mother, and, of course, from the fairytale itself. However, one of the poem’s most direct influences is the book The Unexplained Fevers, by the wonderful Jeannine Hall Gailey. The book features a lot of Rapunzel poems and I was reading it just before I drafted my own Rapunzel poem. My poem is not a direct response to any of Gailey’s, but there’s definitely a visible influence.

I thoroughly enjoyed the language of Self Portrait as Rapunzel. I found it playful, yet challenging, and enjoyably metaphorical, but without sacrifice to narrative. When you write, do you tend to focus on any one particular aspect over another? Whether it is tempo, sound, story, structure, etc.?

Absolutely. Before I was a poet, I was (and am still) a musician, so the music of language is always the first thing I focus on when I’m writing. One of my favorite things about poetry is the way poets pay such careful attention to sound in their language. Sound is always one of my first considerations. Narrative though – that’s harder for me. Much of my work has to go through a lot of drafts before I can tease out a consistent narrative. Fortunately, Rapunzel lent itself very well to narrative, since the poem is partially modeled on the fairytale.

When did you first discover your passion for poetry?

This is a hard question to answer! I’ve loved reading poetry since I was a small child and I’ve been writing it for as long as I can remember. I was always writing poetry during free writing time in elementary school, and all my study halls in high school were more devoted to sonnets than to textbooks. I didn’t really become serious about writing poetry until my last year of college though, and now that I’m in an MFA program, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

If you could control the affect that your work has in the reader, what affect would that be?

I’m a firm believer in the power of art – any kind of art – and its ability to inspire empathy in its readers (or viewers, or listeners). I think that poetry, given its compressed nature and attention to beautiful language, is perfect for showing us reflections of ourselves and helping us empathize with one another. So that’s what I’m going for when I write: I want to inspire empathy, or, at least, powerful emotion. Ideally, that emotion will lead readers to produce some art of their own.

As both a poet and a songwriter, how do your approaches differ in respect to each medium?

I adore both mediums, and they definitely inform one another – my musical knowledge helps me with sound and rhythm and narrative tension in my poems, and my background in rhyme and meter are invaluable in my songwriting. However, I think of these two mediums as very distinct from one another. I like to think of poetry as something closer to a two-dimensional medium and music as more three-dimensional.

In poetry, I’m concerned with sound and line breaks and the way it looks on the page, but all I have to worry about is words. In songwriting, though, I have to think about lyrics, melody, layering and arranging the other instruments… It’s a very different thought process. I think that, in general, lyrics are easier for me to write because I usually build them around a backbone of melody and I don’t have to worry so much about the individual sound structure, since the music and phrasing is generally more important. That’s the wonderful thing about songwriting – poetry is pretty static unless you change the words, but music can be rephrased and reshaped; it’s different every time.

What are your plans after completing your MFA at the University of Southern Illinois?

My long-term goal is to become a creative writing teacher. This year, I have the privilege of teaching one section of Introduction to Creative Writing and I absolutely love it. First though, I need to work on my poetry thesis. I’ll be entering the final year of my MFA next fall, which means I’ll need to produce a book-length thesis. I haven’t quite decided on the exact shape of the book yet, but it’s likely that “Self-Portrait as Rapunzel” will be included!

Eric smith headshotEric Smith will be presenting the keynote speech on “Building Your Social Platform”  at the Writers at Work Conference on March 22. Click here to register.

Eric is an author, blogger, gamer and publishing geek living and writing in Philadelphia. He is co-founder of the blog Geekadelphia as well as Philadelphia Geek Awards, a ceremony honoring local geeks. He recently transitioned into Young Adult fiction with the January publication of the novel, Inked.

On March 22nd you will be speaking at the Philadelphia Stories conference, Writers at Work. Can you briefly describe what you will be presenting?

Sure! I’ll be talking about why it’s important to market yourself, have a platform, and be active on social media. I’m still writing the keynote and I’m really excited about it. I feel like writers think (or are told that) social media will sell their books or land them book deals… and while it sometimes does depending on the size of your platform or how lucky you get… it’s really about becoming a part of the community.

Congratulations on your latest publication, Inked. Can you tell me about this project? 

Thanks Jon! Sure! Inked came out back in January, and is a YA fantasy novel about a world where tattoos are mandatory, magic, and determine your destiny. The story focuses on Caenum, a teenager who doesn’t want to be ‘inked’—and told what he’s going to be for the rest of his life—and his friends as they take off from their hometown in search of a place that’s safe from the ruling power of the Citadel. Along the way they discover the origins of the magic Ink, revealing a huge secret that threatens to tear apart their realm. It came out with Bloomsbury Spark, a digital imprint of Bloomsbury. It’s the first in what I’m hoping will be a series. The second novel is done and I’m fixing it up with my agent right now. The audiobook is due out sometime this year as well.  

As a frequent blogger and writer of essays and articles, what inspired you to branch out into the realm of young adult fiction?

Well, a few years ago I had to work on the marketing for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a YA novel by Ransom Riggs. But before diving into promoting it, I wanted to get familiar with the genre. As I read and read and read… well, I fell in love. :-) And I wanted to give it a shot. I’ve always wanted to write novels and that book helped steer me in the right direction. Thanks Ransom!

How might your promotion plan differ from this book as compared to your other projects?

It differed a lot. As a digital book, it’s kind of tricky to get attention and traditional publicity. So I worked with bloggers a lot. Bloomsbury sent out digital galleys everywhere and I put together a blog tour, pushed out an excerpt, etc. I suppose it’s a lot of the same kind of publicity that a physical book gets, just with a heavy emphasis on the Internet.  

As Social Media & Marketing Manager of Quirk Books, what advice do you offer to your authors? What are the most important things authors should do to help their books get discovered? 

Having an online platform is important. It’s a home base where your potential fans, current fans, and people that will be interested in selling or sharing your book (booksellers, teachers, librarians, bloggers!) can find and interact with you. It won’t sell your books, but it’ll help endear you to the community. Being part of the community is important.

You are also the co-founder of the blog Geekadelphia, as well as co-founder of the Geek Awards, a ceremony honoring Philly geeks. What is it about geek culture that you love and find most interesting?

I love how passionate the Philly geek scene is, and how… maybe helpful isn’t the right word? Altruistic? We’re a caring bunch. We all work together to help one another. Sure, you’ll see some people competing for attention in the same space quite frequently. But that never stops us from helping each other out and I just adore that.  

What’s next for you? Any projects in the works?

Fussing over a sequel to my YA book, and writing for some new places! You’ll be able to find me blogging with Barnes & Noble and Paste in the coming weeks, and I’m really excited about that.

By Julie Cohen, who will be presenting a session on “Write-Life Balance” at the Writers at Work Conference on March 22. Click here to register.
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

I don’t need another article or blog post about work-life balance to tell me I’m overwhelmed. Do you? The media continually reminds us that our modern lifestyle is not sustainable for a sane and satisfying life. This isn’t news to me, my peers or my clients. In working with hundreds of professionals over the past 15 years to make positive and impactful changes to their career and life, I have met very few who weren’t struggling with some aspect of work-life balance. That’s why I’m inspired to share my thoughts about how you can impact your work-life balance during World at Work’s National Work and Family Month.

While most of us are competent problem solvers at work, we tend to be so mired in the craziness of our day-to-day lives that we feel helpless to make change there. While it is unrealistic to expect to go from working 60 hours a week, singlehandedly managing your home and barely sleeping to the serene, organized and efficient operating model about which we fantasize, change is possible.

Right now, schedule a time – actually schedule it, on your calendar, in ink — when you can step back, consider the following questions and start the process.

What is driving my current choices?
If you are dissatisfied with your work-life balance and haven’t already taken steps to change it, there is likely something you gain from your situation. Be it financial security, leadership, prestige, survival, accomplishment or a host of other reasons, this represents something you value. Once you determine what drives your current choices, it is easier to consider changing or to accept that it may be too difficult to do so at this time.

For example, if you determine that prestige is driving the current intensity of your life, you get to decide if what you gain from your prestige at work is worth the stress it is having on you and your family. If it’s not, you can begin the work of change. However be open to the possibility that the choices you’re making are tied to something that is non-negotiable to you. If that’s the case, you can choose to accept the intensity of your current situation. Many of my clients have achieved satisfaction without making any changes to their work-life balance, by simply gaining awareness as to why they are working the way the are.

What am I willing to do differently?
I have many clients who are unhappy with their work-life situation and are not willing to make any changes. Often, we are so invested in the life we’ve created that the idea of doing anything differently feels impossible, pointless or scary. Yet, we’ve all heard Einstein’s quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Think about what you are comfortable doing differently. Could you leave work on time one day a week? Say ‘no’ and risk disappointing a friend or colleague? Submit a first draft that really is a first draft? Delegate real work? Experiment with just one or two new ways to do things that give you more autonomy over your own time and energy.

What might I have to risk?
With change comes risk. When you do something differently, it’s likely to have an impact. The colleague you say no to may get angry; skipping dinner with a friend to work out may disappoint your friend; asking for help from your partner may feel uncomfortable to you. In most situations, we overestimate the risk, and gain far more than expected. However, the more aware you are of what you might risk, the easier it will be to measure it against the potential benefits.

What will I gain?
Clarity about what you will gain is the best motivation for incorporating successful new behaviors into your life. Take some time out of your busy schedule – 10 minutes is enough – to define what you will gain if your work-life balance situation becomes better, more manageable, more sane, more enjoyable…you decide what you want to be different and how you want to feel and what at least one benefit could be.

These questions are not tips and they’re definitely not a magic wand. Making any type of change requires self-assessment, choice and then a commitment to actually make the change. Once you’ve done the above work, you really can make a work-life balance change and experience the benefit.

Philadelphia-based leadership/executive coach Julie Cohen, PCC, is the author of Your Work, Your Life…Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance. Cohen provides organizations with training programs and executive coaching to enhance work life balance satisfaction, professional effectiveness and leadership development. Learn more about Cohen at Follow her at or @jccoach on Twitter.

Julie Cohen, author of Your Work, Your Life … Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance, is a Career and Personal Coach who helps her clients clarify and achieve their professional and personal goals. In this session, Julie will present a highly interactive program designed to help writers find that optimal mix of professional and personal priorities.
Follow Julie Cohen, PCC on Twitter:

Philadelphia Poets
Presents its

Annual Ethnic Voices Poetry Reading

Place: Manayunk/Roxborough Art Center (M/RAC)

419 Green Lane (rear), Philadelphia

Date: Sunday, March 8, 2015, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.


Mel Brake, Maria Famà, Hanoch Guy,

Peter Krok, Emiliano Martin, Prabha Nayak Prabhu,

Fereshteh Sholevar, and Rosemary Cappello

The poets represent many different cultures: African/American, Italian, Jewish, German, Spanish, Indian, and Persian. While their experiences either as immigrants or the descendants of immigrants are similar, the expressions of their feelings are unique and individual, and their approaches to the writing of poetry, varied and powerful.

Mel Brake has won several awards for his poetry and musical talents. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, and proud of it. His poetry has been published in Fox Chase Review, Mad Poets Review, E Pluribus Unum: An Anthology of Diverse Voices, Apiary, Word Riot Magazine, Poetry Ink, and others.

Maria Famà is the author of six books of poetry, including her most recent, Mystics in the Family (Bordighera Press).  She can be heard reading her poetry in the films Prisoners Among Us, Pipes of Peace,and Shepherd’s Way.  Maria lives in Philadelphia with Dolly, her architect cat, who sings while creating her constructions.

Hanoch Guy grew up in Israel and is a bilingual poet in Hebrew and English. He teaches at Temple University and at the Musehouse. His poetry has been published in many journals, including Poetica, where he won an award, and The International Journal of Genocide Studies.He has four books of poetry.

Peter Krok edits Schuylkill Valley Journal and is the Poetry Director of the Manayunk/Roxborough Art center where he coordinates a poetry series. His poetry has been widely published, including inCommon Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. His collection of poetry is Looking for an Eye (Foothills Press, 2007).

Emiliano Martin, born in Spain, is the founder and past director of the Philadelphia Poetry Forum and past president of Latin American Guild for the Arts. His latest bilingual collection, 511 Aphorisms of My Humor, was published in 2010.

Prabha Nayak Prabhu, a native of India, is a language teacher and writer. Her articles have appeared in The Delaware County Daily Times. Her poems have been published in Mad Poets Review, Poetry Ink, Pennessence, and others. Prabha has won prizes at the Philadelphia Writers Conference and in the Pennsylvania Poetry Society contests.

Fereshteh Sholevar was born and raised in Tehran. In 1978 she emigrated to Germany and then to the USA. She has authored six books of poetry and a novel, and writes in German, French, Farsi, and English. She received the Pennsylvania Poetry Society’s 2nd prize (2005), and Philadelphia Poets’ “Editor’s Choice Award” (2011).

Rosemary Cappello’s poetry appears most recently in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Fall 2014, Volume 29, and Voices in Italian Americana, Volume 25 Number 1, 2014. Editor and Publisher ofPhiladelphia Poets which she founded in 1980.

Peter Krok, Humanities Director at M/RAC, is the coordinator of the Reading Series, which originated in the Fall of 1990. A donation of $4 for the MRAC is requested, and refreshments are provided.

For information about the program, call the MRAC at 215-482-3363or Rosemary Cappello at 215-568-1145. Rosemary Cappello, editor ofPhiladelphia Poets, will host the program, with Mel Brake as co-host. See also Philadelphia Poets’ page on FaceBook, with information about the event.

Often, one of the most difficult challenges in creative writing is knowing when to stop. But how do you know when a story or poem is finished? Author Merry Jones offers some advice in the following entry, previously published on her blog.

Merry JonesRoundtable: How You know when the story’s ready?

For me, it’s not complicated. For every project, I have a deadline. The story is ready when the deadline comes. Sometimes the deadline is set by a publisher; sometimes it’s self-imposed. Either way, it’s an endpoint that I prepare for, and when I reach it, the story is done. Finished. Over. Time to move on.

My training was broadcast television. With television, the show went on when it was scheduled, whether or not the director/cast/crew liked it. The opportunity for rehearsing and being creative was finite. When the clock ticked down 3-2-1, it was show time, ready or not.

It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve worked in television, but I’ve kept that deadline philosophy with my writing.

Whenever I start a project—a story or full-length book, I estimate time for research, outline/synopsis, first draft and revision. I total it all up, add some slack, and set a reasonable deadline. Rarely have I ever tinkered beyond that date. The secret, I believe, is in seeking not to create something perfect, but simply to complete a smoothly polished product.

From the onset, I create reachable goals. I am satisfied with imperfection. For my work, perfection is not only unattainable; it’s also unnecessary. I want to write page-turners that entertain. There will always be a better phrase here, a more precise word there. The deadline gives me a chance to stop nit-picking and declare a work finished.

But let’s get more specific about the story itself. The main goal in telling a story is to tell the story. In a simple classic plot, the main character starts out with the motivation to achieve/attain some goal and confronts obstacles. The obstacles cause conflicts. The conflicts mount until they climax and ultimately get resolved.

The resolution can take many forms. Our character might succeed and overcome the obstacles and achieve her goal, or the obstacles might prevail so that our character fails. More possibilities: The character thinks she’s succeeded, but actually failed. She thinks she’s failed but actually succeeded. Or she’s partially succeeded and shares both success and failure with her obstacles. Or maybe they both walk away with the conflict unresolved.

No matter what form the resolution takes, once it’s been reached and the character’s main goal achieved or lost, the story arc is completed. It’s done. The basic story has been told. Even so, the story isn’t ready: it needs polishing and revising.

These processes are essential But they can also be pitfalls—traps that suck writers in like quicksand. As I’ve said above, there will always be room for improvement–a more nuanced phrase, a crisper detail, a superfluous clumsy adverb. Accepting that fact is, I believe, key to completing the piece. As long as the writing flows, lacks grammatical errors, is concise and gripping and well paced—As long as the character is sympathetic and believable and the voice is consistent, the work is done. Issues of structure, sequence, vocabulary and style can be examined, altered, reexamined, re-altered ad infinitum. The manuscript will never be perfect—not that there is a way to measure perfection in writing. And the process of trying to perfect it can be the obstacle to any writer’s goal of completing a work.

Hence: the deadline. It’s the best way, at least for me, to know that the manuscript is ready. Because, when it comes, the story is ready; for better or worse, it’s show time.

Meet Merry and 30 other agents and editors at Push to Publish on October 11, 2014  Read Merry’s complete tips here.

Whether you are an established writer or just getting started, this one-day workshop will provide valuable resources you can use to get your work in print and online. Meet the panelists joining us for the 2014 Push to Publish conference:

is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.”  He is also the author of BLOOD AND BONE, THE ACCOUNTING, and, most recently, THE BARKEEP, which was a Digital Book World Number One Best-Selling Ebook.

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and advertising creative director. Her first novel, Standing Still, was published by Simon & Schuster in February 2008, and hailed by Publishers Weekly as “an exhilarating debut.” Her second novel, The Bird House, received a starred review from Kirkus, and they are really, really picky. Her new novel, One More Day, will be published in October, 2015. She is a founding member of The Liars Club, a group of published novelists dedicated to building community.
Beth Kephart is the author of eighteen books, including memoir, young adult literature, a corporate fairytale, and an autobiography of a river. Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (Gotham) won the 2013 Books for a Better Life Award (Motivational Category), was featured as a top writing book by O Magazine, and was named a Best Writing Book by Poets and Writers. Small Damages (Philomel), a young adult novel that takes place in southern Spain, was named a 2013 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book and a best book of the year by many publications. Three new books are set for publication in 2015 and 2016. She is also a Radnor High Hall of Famer.
Gregory Frost is the author of novels including the Shadowbridge series (Del Rey) and Fitcher’s Brides (Tor). His short stories have appeared most recently in Asimov’s, Supernatural Noir (Ellen Datlow, ed.) and Apex Magazine. He’s director of the fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College. To learn more, follow him on twitter (@gregory_frost).
Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker nominated author of PREDATOR, a young adult novel (Month9Books 2014), and WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE (with NEW YORK TIMES bestseller Jonathan Maberry) (Citadel Press 2010). She is editor of THE BIG THRILL (International Thriller Writers’ magazine). She serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology for the International Thriller Writers.

Alison DeLuca is the best-selling author of THE CROWN PHOENIX BOOKS, a four-book steampunk series, and CHRISTMAS O’CLOCK, a fiction collection written to help international families via the charity Water is Life. When she is not scribbling madly at her desk, she uses her twenty years of language teaching experience as an editor and monthly columnist for Girl Who Reads. Alison is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Judi Fennell is an award-winning, best-selling author of romantic comedies, including the Manley Maids series from Berkley, the Bottled Magic series and Tritone Trilogy from Sourcebooks Casablanca, as well as erotic romance novellas writing as Raven Morris, has her feet on both sides of the publishing fence in traditional and indie publishing. Owner/operator of, a formatting/editorial/cover design/promotional & marketing firm, Judi has helped hundreds of authors bring their publishing dreams to life via independent publishing.

Donna Galanti is the author of the short story collection The Dark Inside, Joshua and The Lightning Road series (2015), and books one and two in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element.

Thomas V Hartman’s publishing experience spans 15 years and includes senior editorial roles with Elsevier and John Wiley and Sons. In addition, Hartmann has developed Websites and other digital content for clients such as Harcourt College Publishers, Pearson/Prentice Hall, and Rutgers University.

Merry Jones is the author of the Elle Harrison suspense novels, the Harper Jennings thrillers  and, this November,  the Zoe Hayes mysteries.  For a dozen years, she taught writing at Temple University; currently, she leads workshops in Suspense Writing. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Philadelphia Liars Club.

Don Lafferty’s short fiction has appeared in NEEDLE MAGAZINE, CRIME FACTORY MAGAZINE, SHOTGUN HONEY and a number of other markets and anthologies. HDon is a regular contributor to the global conversation about marketing through the social media channel, and blogs at Don is a member of the Philly Liars Club, the social media director of the Wild River Review, and serves on the board of directors of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.

Karen Pokras writes adult contemporary and middle grade fiction under the names Karen Pokras and Karen Pokras Toz. Her books have won several awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, the Grand Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for two Global E-Book Awards for Pre-Teen Literature.

Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from contemporary to paranormal to science fiction. Her futuristic thriller, Fireseed One was a finalist in YA and SF in the 2013 USA News International Book Awards and an Indie Reader Approved notable. IHer YA paranormal, Dorianna launches this fall with Evernight Teen.

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