I have lived in East Falls since late 2004. My city friends view the neighborhood as a suburb and my suburban friends view it as the city. The neighborhood feels liminal: the Schuylkill rushes below, many make temporary residence here while in college or grad school, and many more pass through daily along Kelly Drive, Ridge Avenue, or Henry Avenue by bike, rollerblade, bus, train, or car. Though it is a vibrant community of Fallsers and transplants with myths and beefs that date back decades, many outside the neighborhood don’t know East Falls is here: between Manayunk and Germantown and Roxborough.
I say all this because along just a couple blocks of Tilden Street live a half a dozen poets — and I know that there are poets on hundreds and hundreds of blocks in the city. Philadelphia is a city brimming with stories and storytellers. We hold on to past glories longer and stronger than we should, but we “enthusiastically discourage” unearned self-importance. We are a city brimming with editors, too.
Philadelphia Stories looks for the various poets of the various Tilden Streets around the city; we hope to highlight those voices central to our communities. With the Sandy Crimmins National Prize, we broaden our search, but continue to seek relevant, authentic voices. We can only do this with the help of guest judges (such as this year’s amazing Daisy Fried), an expanded staff of editors, and Nicole Pasquarello, our contest coordinator. The prize itself is made possible by Joseph A. Sullivan. My sincerest thanks to all.
The voices in this year’s winning poems are hungry, demanding, and expectant. As usual, there was a lot about the submissions that really impressed our board of reviewers. While many entrants were from outside of the Philadelphia area, most of our submissions come from our neighbors. I hope that Philadelphia area poets continue to submit their work year-round. And for those poets outside of the region, we will begin soliciting submissions for the next Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry over the summer. We look forward to hearing your stories.