Like so many main cities, Philadelphia has been rocked by the occasions of the previous yr. Police shootings, COVID-19, a detailed presidential election, and many years of systemic injustice for marginalized communities have taken a heavy toll on the town and on the e book neighborhood. However the e book scene right here is each surviving and creating highly effective initiatives to share hope and assist with our residents.
The newest instance is the Therapeutic Verse Philly Poetry Line. Interviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia poet laureate Trapeta B. Mayson mentioned that “now, greater than ever, we’d like areas to course of.” Once you name the toll-free quantity (1-855-763-6792), Mayson’s voice greets you with a recorded message and introduces the mission, which affords an affirming poem by a Philadelphia-connected poet in addition to details about occasions and psychological well being sources. They plan to supply a brand new poem each Monday; I’ll undoubtedly be calling again. The 90 seconds I spent listening to the present poem (January 8, on the time of writing) was a welcome respite in a day that continues to convey worrying information in addition to the mundane, wearying calls for of dwelling and dealing in a pandemic.
As I mentioned, that is simply the newest such mission; since March and the start of lockdown, my inbox and my feeds have been stuffed with literary organizations and companies taking motion.
Blue Stoop, a neighborhood that goals to “assist writers, foster creativity, and construct inclusive literary neighborhood,” had been organizing in-person occasions and readings, however when the pandemic hit they shifted to digital occasions. Along with writing lessons, they’re additionally internet hosting weekly Zoom classes which might be free to all comers, and vary from open mics to co-writing to extra supportive fare. For instance, January 13’s “Sit & Write” will embody a dialog about mutual accountability. They’ve a whole web page devoted to COVID-19 sources for writers, together with hyperlinks to grants, funds, unemployment help, and extra.
The 215 Festival, began in 2015 with a imaginative and prescient to supply an annual day-long literary pageant in addition to different smaller occasions, is a cosponsor of the Philadelphia Writers Emergency Fund, which raised over $17,000 for writers affected by the pandemic. Harriet’s Bookshop, a Black-owned bookshop that was focused by racist threats and emails this previous summer time, organized a protest sit-in in October that included music and dance, in addition to distribution of books in regards to the caste system. Uncle Bobbie’s, additionally a Black-owned indie bookstore and my native, was repeatedly vandalized; they’ve not solely stayed open with the assistance of the neighborhood, however maintain common digital occasions to have fun and assist authors (a lot of them native) with new books popping out. The Philadelphia Free Library, which has had a reckoning with their very own inner points round systemic racism, is working a huge slate of virtual programming, with every part from Minecraft and Animal Crossing group play to language-learning circles, mindfulness meditations, and exercise kits.
And these are simply a few of the organizational efforts; on my walks across the metropolis, I’ve seen a number of Little Free Libraries with books and signage selling antiracism and mutual help; many had been stocked with canned goods and toilet paper in addition to books. It’s been a much-needed balm to see the numerous methods through which my fellow e book lovers are banding collectively, supporting one another, and reaching out to these in want, and I’m proud to be a member of this neighborhood. Right here’s to persevering with and supporting these efforts as we transfer into 2021!
Searching for extra tales about how the e book world is responding to the pandemic? Try our COVID-19 Updates web page.