The Philadelphia Writing Project Partners with the Penn Museum

by Diane Waff
Practice Professor, Penn’s Graduate School of Education

Imagine AfricaThe Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) and the Philadelphia Arts and Education Partnership ( PAEP), the local affiliate for the 2012 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, launched their call for submissions in the Rainey Auditorium at the University of PA Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The awards competition, entering its 89th year, is the nation’s longest running, most prestigious awards program. This first ever collaboration between the museum and PhilWP gave all attendees an opportunity to combine writing with an exploration of the museum’s Imagine Africa Exhibit Project. Creative teens from schools around the city including Project Write (PhilWP’s summer writing camp), Penn Alexander, Lea , Wilson, Maya, Lincoln High School, and the Shipley School were showcased at the event. Audrey Kurtyan, a Project Write student from Christopher Columbus Charter School shared a piece she wrote after visiting the Imagine Africa exhibit entitled “ African Masks: Undying Tradition.” Teachers, students and their families were given journal books and pens and invited to explore and write about the Imagine Africa exhibit. Johnnay Bradford, a Lincoln High School student penned “ I’m Home Now.” She will share her poem along with other students who were moved to write about the exhibit at PhilWP’s 25th anniversary celebration which will also be held at the museum on Saturday October 22 from 1-4 PM.

I’m Home Now
by Johnnay Bradford

I look into the eyes of a man made of wood
and my mind begins to wander.
The sweet melodies of the Kalimba
sway my body side to side,
as my heart beats to the rhythm of the Djembe drum.

I’m home now.

As I gaze into the full lips
of the wooden man
I hear the beads of the Shekere
hitting the smooth hollow wooden frame of the instrument
and my shoulders begin to bounce.

I’m home now.

But something feels different
my tight bandage dress that once showed off my curves
and assets transformed into a traditional African dress
and my Mui Mui pumps disappeared
as my freshly pedicure feet became one with the earth.

I’m home now.

I curl my toes into the earth
and watch the sand cover my pink blossom nail polish.

I’m home now.

My neatly pressed flat ironed hair begins to curl,
and my natural kinky hair comes out to play.
I feel comfortable.

I’m home now.

Rays of sunshine smiles down on my smooth brown skin
As the smell of African cuisine dances into my nostrils,
I can taste it…yummm,

I’m home now.

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