Interview With Philadelphia Stories

 

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Author: Christine Weiser – Executive Director, Philadelphia Stories

What makes the Philadelphia Stories a unique part of the publishing community?

When my co-founder, Carla Spataro, and I discussed the idea of starting a literary magazine, the first question we asked is: what would make us different? Why does the world need another literary magazine? Our answer was this: Philadelphia is still generally an unrecognized destination for culture. This has improved since we launched the magazine in 2004 thanks to the restaurant explosion and openings of cultural institutions like the Barnes. But, Philadelphia is still often in the cultural shadows of cities like New York.

This inspired us to launch Philadelphia Stories, a nonprofit literary magazine that publishes literary fiction, poetry and art from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware and distributes free to a wide demographic throughout the region. From the beginning, we wanted to be more than the magazine. Our mission is to develop a community of writers, artists and readers through the magazine, and through education programs, such as writer’s workshops, reading series, and other affordable professional development programs for emerging writers and artists.

What sort of qualities do you look for in a manuscript or piece of work that you are considering for publication? 

For fiction and essays, I would say our board is drawn to strong writing featuring strong characters and voice. I know this is hard to quantify, but we use a review scoring system that measures: character Development; Plot; Language; Flow; Voice; Subject Matter; and Overall Impression.

What is the readership like for the Philadelphia Stories?  What do you imagine your typical reader is like?

We distribute 5,000 free copies of Philadelphia Stories each quarter all over the Philadelphia area, so there is no real way to measure our “typical reader.” That is one of the goals of our mission: to reach the widest possible demographic. Our hope is to be read not just by people who read literary magazines on a regular basis, but also by those readers who may not typically pick up a literary magazine. We design the magazine to be very reader-friendly and inviting with lots of color and artwork.

How has the Philadelphia Stories evolved over time?

Since 2004, the magazine has been the core program to other writing community programs like Philadelphia Stories, Jr., art exhibits, a books division, reading series, our popular Push to Publish conference, national fiction and poetry contests, and more.

What type of workshops will the press be offering in the future? What has been the most exciting part about running your workshops? What has been most challenging?

We are already planning the 2013 Push to Publish conference for October 12. 2013. We have added 2 master classes to this one-day workshop, and plan to do that again next year. We have also hosted a regular fiction workshop with Aimee LaBrie for advanced short story authors at Moonstone, but since that has closed, we’re planning new venues and programs. We also partnered with the Free Library last summer to offer free workshops to young writers and plan to do more in the future.

The most exciting part of workshops is when you see the workshop student “get it” – when that light bulb goes on and the writer knows exactly he or she needs to do to make the story work. The challenging part is finding the right road to this moment – how to share feedback constructively that will be encouraging, not discouraging. This is especially crucial for young writers, and our PS, Jr. board considers feedback very carefully so young writers walk away feeling good about their work and themselves.

What is the next exciting thing happening at the Philadelphia Stories?

We have a new book coming out in January based on our Forgotten Philadelphia art exhibit (http://www.philadelphiastories.org/philadelphia-stories-presents-forgotten-philadelphia-art-exhibit). It will be our first art book and I’m excited about it. We’re also launching a Holiday Online Art auction November 23-December 12 that we hope will raise much-needed funds to keep PS going, as well as provide people with some beautiful holiday gifts (https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/AuctionHome.action?auctionId=1815996770 ) . We’re also planning our spring Poetry Celebration for April. We’ll have details about this and other events posted to our site soon: http://www.philadelphiastories.org

We’ll have details about this and other events posted to our site soon: http://www.philadelphiastories.org.

All of our programs are completely supported by member donations, and giving as little as $25/year really does make a difference. Our goal for this holiday is to help fund Philadelphia Stories, Jr. for another year. More information about this campaign can be found on our homepage: http://www.philadelphiastories.org/.

 

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