Write Down the Street at JP Porchfest!

On Saturday, July 8th, spoken word artists and musicians came together at Egleston Community Orchard for JP Porchfest 2017. At the world famous event, students from GrubStreet's Write Down the Street program captivated the audience with their extraordinary talents. We thank the Boston Public Library and our generous donors for helping make this community program possible. 

Sometimes in the daily hustle it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are at GrubStreet to teach and write and work in community with talented, sweet, experienced people. As part of my work with Write Down the Street, a free neighborhood creative writing program developed through GrubStreet and the Boston Public Library, I co-organized a reading for JP Porchfest at ECO: Music, Spoken Word and Lit in the Garden—literally right down the street from where I live.

The folks at Egleston Community Orchard, a volunteer-run public space dedicated to permaculture food growing, public art, and public events that grow community relationships, were planning to host an event as part of JP Porchfest, the free annual community arts festival on porches all over Jamaica Plain. They asked me about how GrubStreet writers could get involved, and I realized it would be great opportunity to highlight the work of our luminous Write Down the Street students and spread the word about the program.

My WDTS co-conspirator Jenn De Leon and I brought together eight writers who we’d worked with at Egleston Square and Grove Hall branch libraries. From left to right: Christine Giraud, U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, me (Denise Delgado), Jacquelyn McRath, Tua Nefer, Rosa Sánchez, and Franklin Peralta, from the Egleston Square workshops; and Jennifer De Leon, Carol Carter, and Josie Figueroa, from the Grove Hall workshops.

Franklin Peralta, a poet who lives in Egleston Square and has also attended Write Down the Street’s community partners meeting at GrubStreet, opened the reading with poems in Spanish.

Tua Nefer, a Grubbie and veteran of the Crónicas y cuentos bilingual writing workshop at Egleston Square, read a rich, funny, scintillating passage from Ata, her novel in progress. (We had to send the kids in attendance to the other side of the garden.)

U-Meleni, an experienced performer and poet who was part of a second run of the Crónicas y cuentos class, read poems from her collection Soul Psalms. She closed her performance with song and thrilled the crowd.

Josie Figueroa read a funny, sad story told by a young narrator about raising her mother. Rosa Sánchez delivered a bilingual reading from her provocative short story about a naïve young woman’s first day in Boston from la isla.

Christine Giraud read from her satirical novel about Allston residents fighting a pipeline through their neighborhood. Jackie McRath shared a gorgeous poem inspired by Frank Báez’s poem, “Exodus.” Carol Carter enchanted everyone with her musical storytelling.

Usually Porchfest audiences are nomadic. There are so many performances to see all over the neighborhood in just a few hours. But this crowd stayed put—happy to listen, grill, and chill.

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About the Author

Denise Delgado is instructor, consultant, and Neighborhood Program Fellow at GrubStreet, teaching classes, including bilingual workshops in English and Spanish, and doing outreach in Boston neighborhoods and public libraries. She has facilitated creative writing and art workshops for adults and teens as well as socially-engaged arts projects at libraries, schools, museums, a prison and other community spaces since 1998.

Denise's fiction and critical work have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southeast Review, Inch, Hinchas de Poesía, Jai-Alai Magazine, 2040 Review, Fiction Writers Review, the anthology Florida Flash, and various contemporary art publications. Since 2010 she has organized the Free School for Writing, an itinerant classroom for literary craft talks and workshops. From 2005-2013 she worked for the Outreach Division of the Miami-Dade Public Library System as Curator for Art Services and Exhibitions and later, project director for the Vasari Project Archive. As a writer and multidisciplinary artist, Denise has received grants from New England Foundation for the Arts, Alternate ROOTS/The Ford Foundation, and Tigertail Productions’ Artist Access Program. Delgado received an MA in Media Studies from The New School and an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College. She is currently at work a collection of linked short stories set in Miami and Cuba around two families connected through Operation Peter Pan.

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by Denise Delgado