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Lights, Camera, Action! 2014 Poets & Writers Festival Opens with Local Filmmaker

Memorable scripts require rewrites, feedback from others, more rewrites, and perseverance, according to local filmmaker Ben Hickernell, who spoke to students and guests on February 18 on the Main Campus of Community College of Philadelphia.

The presentation by Hickernell, 35, kicked off the College’s 2014 Poets & Writers Festival, a series of poetry workshops and discussions that offer Philadelphians a glimpse of life as a professional writer.
Hickernell, who runs Philadelphia-based Reconstruction Pictures, showed movie clips he wrote and directed, explained the filmmaking process and urged audience members to hold themselves to a high standard. “In general, the first things you do are crap. You’ve got to get crap out of the way. First drafts are usually not your best,” Hickernell said.

Kelly McQuain, an associate professor of English at the College, and Jeff Markovitz, an instructor and coordinator Creative Writing certificate program, helped to organize the festivities. “It connects students to books, writers and ideas they wouldn't otherwise encounter,” McQuain said. Markovitz added, “It’s connecting our students to the real view from the professional world.”
The festival is a partnership of the Division of Liberal Studies, the Office of Student Life, the English Department, the Center for International Understanding, the Office of Diversity and Equity and the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Poets & Writers Festival events are free and open to the public. Large groups wishing to attend an event are asked to notify the coordinators at jmarkovitz@ccp.edu and mcquain@ccp.edu.

Upcoming Poets & Writers Festival events include:

March 13
Poetry Symposium: Workshops and Readings will take place between 9:40 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Winnet Student Life Building, on the west side of 17th Street, between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets. Sessions are offered at the following times:

  • 9:40 - 11:10 a.m.—Workshop with Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin, authors of “Poems for the Writing: Writing the Cameo Cinquain and the Unanswerable Letter Poem.”
  • 11:20 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.—Workshop with David Groff, author of “Clay: The Turn of the Poem: Taking Your Poetry Past Its Comfort Zone.”
  • 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.—Lunch and a Reading by the Poets. Valerie Fox, Lynn Levin, David Groff, Suzanne Parker.
  • 2:40- 4:10 p.m.—Workshop with Suzanne Parker, author of “Viral: Pushing the Poetic Metaphor.”

March 19
Kevin Powers, “The Yellow Birds”
9 - 10:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Winnet Student Life Building
One Book, One Philadelphia Author Series presents veteran and novelist Kevin Powers, who will read from his National Book Award-nominated novel, “The Yellow Birds”, and will speak on his personal journey as a soldier and writer, as well as his perspectives of the physical and psychological paths navigated by today’s veterans. A book signing will follow.

March 19
Panel Discussion: Returning Home: The Challenges Faced by Today’s Veterans
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Winnet Student Life Building
How do the issues raised in “The Yellow Birds”resonate with student veterans at the College? From experiencing PTSD to attaining an education and finding a job, what kind of obstacles do veterans face as they transition to life at home? Join a panel that will discuss these issues as well as answer audience questions. Panelists include Connie Watson, Psychology Department; Stephen Bachovin, Coordinator of Veterans Programming; Jason Mays, Iraq War veteran and Student Government President; Dr. Howard J. Cohen, Psychologist; and moderator Kelly McQuain, English Department. The event is part of the Diversity Dialogue Series and co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity, which will provide lunch for the first 15 people at the event.

April 7
Faculty Showcase of Writers
6 - 9 p.m. in the Sandra E. Klein Cube, Pavilion Building, on the west side of 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets
Featuring: Alan Elyshevitz, Jeff Markovitz, Nick Moudry, Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, Elizabeth Catanese, Diane McManus, Jonathan Pappas, Kate Brady. Thierry Saintine, and Thomas Rush.