The Arts Cafe

June Jordan

The lovely, south-facing open parlor of the 1851 Tudor cottage has been known as "the Arts Cafe" since the founding of the Writers House in 1995-96. In this useful, intimate space take place many of the seminars, workshops, readings, lectures, live webcasts, discussion groups, manuscript exchanges, and spoken-word and musical performances the Writers House hosts each year, free and open to the public. Here most evenings audiences of students, faculty, staff, Philadelphians of all kinds including many of our West Philadelphia neighbors gather and listen, interact, and respond to our many featured guest writers, editors and performers.

And it is here in the Arts Cafe that, each spring, three eminent "Writers House Fellows" meet Writers House audiences in what the Fellows inevitably describe as among the most friendly and intimate settings for writers in the country. In this small space members of the extended Writers House community have met and spoken with Tony Kushner, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Grace Paley, John Wideman, June Jordan (at right), Michael Cunningham, and others.

"Among its other virtues," wrote Michael Cunningham after his visit, "the Writers House is the first academic setting I can remember that felt entirely stimulating and generous and, well, un-creepy; the first about which I've felt I'd like to be some sort of part some time in the future (as opposed to feeling willing to put up with whatever in order to teach a class)."