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Philadelphia, PA

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An nonprofit, independent book publisher and writers' workshop located in Philadelphia that creates innovative relationships between the authors and the work they produce.

Blog

Campfire Stories- The Journey Begins

The Head & The Hand Press

David and Ilyssa Kyu of Kyu Collective had a simple idea to travel the country and search for stories to read around a campfire. After months of planning and a successful Kickstarter campaign, the two are finally embarking on their trip to visit some of the most beautiful parks the country has to offer. You can keep up with the pair on their Instagram, Facebook, and website.

This summer, Ilyssa and I will travel the country, looking for great stories from five National Parks across the country, for our anthology called Campfire Stories. We’re packing the car now and in less than one week, we'll start a four month road trip. The idea grew out of our own curiosity for stories that could connect us to the outdoor escapes that we had been seeking in the margins of our life. As our curiosity and wanderlust grew, we realized the only way to scratch the itch would be to make a change to our 9-to-5 lives. So step by step, over the course of the last year and a half, we've been building working towards realizing this trip. Many steps have led us to this date of departure, and there are so many to thank along the way.

We started by admitting what we don't know. We reached into our creative networks to sit down with anthropologists, storytellers, folklorists, National Park employees, and independent publishers. That's what put is in a coffee shop with Nic Esposito, founder of the Head and the Hand Press. We had no clue how one takes an idea all the way to a published book, and Nic was a gracious and capable guide to this world. He explained everything from book agents to Barnes & Noble. And the idea struck a chord with Nic, who himself was dreaming of one day road tripping with his family across the country's National Parks. After peeking into the world of publishing, we decided that we didn't want to work with anyone other than the Head and the Hand Press.

With this support, we now needed to test our process. What stories were we looking for? How would we collect them? Who would speak to us? We knew we needed to prove the concept before we upended our lives. So we kicked off the project by spending October 2015 in Acadia National Park. This month was hugely informative, allowing us to discover, and tweak our process for the remaining parks. We learned that laying the groundwork with a few strategic partnerships would connect us to the communities and individuals we sought to hear from. And that we needed to know the history of the place, and be present in that place, to build trust with those that would share old and new stories, both personal and cultural.

But still, while the book seemed like a great idea to us, we needed to know that an audience was out there. The first inkling came with a "Campfire Storytelling Night," hosted by the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor, Maine. With their support (thank you Jesup!), we pitched the event as an invitation to the community to come share their best stories with us around a fire - s'mores on us! But the size-able audience that attended came out to hear stories, not tell them. Now we could plainly see - even in an age of great storytelling, people are hungry for stories around a campfire.

Our Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing and production of the book was our next test. We made a video, put together a pitch, and set it off, to see if/how a larger public would respond. It. Was. So. Much. Work. We emailed everyone we knew, we pitched to press outlets. We spent one week at the Philadelphia Flower Show (2016 theme: National Parks), sharing our project with anyone who stopped by. 30 days later, we were funded at 135% of our goal! With backers from all over the country, and even from Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and beyond! We discovered that the lore from America's National Parks extends across the world. 

And that brings us to this moment. We’re fresh off a trip to Washington D.C., attending the 2016 National Learning Summit as guests of the Every Kid in a Park initiative. We’re still giddy from having met Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Parks! And as we explore different ways to pack our car, we're looking back to the hundreds of steps that allowed us to take this journey. For the next four months, we'll be searching for stories in the Smoky Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, in Zion, Yosemite, and Yellowstone - from Philadelphia to California and back. We're grateful to the Head and the Hand Press for showing us the publishing ropes, for all those who advised on our process, and to our friend who will keep our animals well and well-fed back home. We’re grateful to the kind individuals who welcomed us in Acadia and shared their stories, and grateful to all who share our curiosity for our natural spaces, and who will join us to build a deeper relationship to our parks, and our outdoor spaces.

David Kyu

The Writer's Sacred Space

The Head & The Hand Press

The Monday Night Writer's Group meets once a week at the Physick House to foster inspiration for writers of all kinds. We asked Chelsea Fleming, one of our monthly workshop members, to tell us about her time attending the Monday Night Writer's Group. 

 

Every writer has a space. Its a place where they show up to write. They show up to the page, but more importantly, they show up for themselves. Its a place of commitment. Casting the world aside, the writer puts their priorities on the back burner and puts pen to paper, fingers to keys. Its in this space, this writers space, where for the fortunate, magic happens.

Or, if youre anything like me, a lot of unfortunate things happen: self loathing, skin picking, hair pulling, forgetting to eat, drinking too much wine, binge eating too many Triskets.

Realistically, finding a safe haven for writing can be difficult. We yearn for the quaint corner cafe that lets you suck at their WiFi teet for 4+ hours in exchange for the mere price of a coffee, yet can be easily distracted by the bearded diva causing a scene when the cold brew drip coffee (or whatever the hell it is) runs out. Most times, the idea of a perfect writing place is just that, an idea.

This was the case for me until quite recently. For months, I stumbled aimlessly cafe to cafe, bar to bar, bouncing from quiet spot to lively locale in search of the perfect place to let loose. I sought a place that offered half inspiration, half solace. Basically, I was chasing a unicorn. Most times, my excuses and distractions defeated my personal writing ambitions. Id find more reasons not to write than to actually write. And then I found a writers group.

I stumbled along The Head & The Hand Press this May at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. They had a little booth set up with information and I signed up for their mailing list. When I went home I browsed their website and noticed The Head & The Hand Press offered a writers workshop on Mondays, so I took a chance and went. Ive been going every Monday since then.

After joining The Head & The Hand, I realized I hadnt been searching for a physical space so much as I was searching for a headspace. For me, there was no perfect location I could plop down and have ideas and words flow, it just didnt exist (or at least, wasnt consistent).

Now as a new writer, I dont feel so alone. I realized the other group members were facing or have faced many of the same problems I was having, regardless of their experience/expertise with writing. (Some of the more veteran writers chuckled at my quest for a perfect writing space.) Members who had been writing for years, for decades, knew of my struggle and offered hope. At Monday Night Workshop we offer each other tips and tools to help further our writing practice. One of the most helpful tips Ive taken from the workshop is getting into a writing routine, which was suggested by a member who found themselves feeling stuck in a physical spot lacking inspiration.

Working with other writers also helped me recognize the excuses and fears we as creators use to hold us back from writing. Most everybody had trouble finding timeto write whether they had a full time job, a child, or neither. We realized we all were abusing the same excuses and sounded quite silly. At the end of each week, we set realistic goals and feel responsible to reach them, knowing the workshop members will hold you accountable for your writing (or lack of). We all made a vow to show up, to write, to share, to listen.

For two teensy hours a week ten different creators with ten different agendas meet at The Head & The Hand to dump words on pages of our notebooks. They dont have to make sense, they just have to exist. Thats the glory of writing with a group, I dont sit at my computer and type/delete/self hate/type/delete/repeat like I used to. On Mondays, I basically show up & throw up and the other group members do the same, its beautiful.

Writing with other people forced me to stop writing for my inner critic. Since then my writing has gone to a place its never been before.  These once strangers coddled and nurtured my inner creative voice. I was so accustomed to blocking out the writer I was capable of being. I realized that when I wrote in subjectively safe place my inner critic had no chance at destroying my creativity. It wasnt Chelsea vs. Self Doubt anymore, it was Monday Night Writers Group vs. Chelseas Self Doubt, and the group always shot my self doubt down.

Chelsea Fleming

We Moved!

The Head & The Hand Press

If you happen to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Vine, you might have noticed that a few changes have been happening over at the shop. Well, it wasn't so much as a few changes as it was one big change. We've said goodbye to our space in Fishtown and hello to a brand new home in Society Hill! Maybe "brand new" isn't the right term. Remember our event at the Physick House? You know, the house that looks like this:

And this:

And this:

You guessed it! Beginning today, Sept. 1, The Head & The Hand Press is officially operating out of the Physick House and we could not be more excited. The lovely folks over at The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks have welcomed us to use their space for our meetings, workshops, and events.

The move was a difficult decision for us to make — we l-o-v-e Fishtown and are deeply grateful to the community for their support over the past three years in helping us grow. Now, in our new home in Old City, our Press and Writers' Workshop have the opportunity to grow even more (especially in giving us the capacity for larger classes and events). Did we mention this place is also a museum? There are swords and old surgical tools,  some pretty rad furniture (just don't touch!) and a beautiful garden to peruse at your leisure. We're only a 10-minute walk away from 5th Street Station. Oh, and there's free parking in the city on Wednesdays. 

We're pretty pumped about this move and we hope you are, too! Check back on our website for info on upcoming events and workshop memberships. We hope to see you all at the Physick House soon! 

In Defense of Go Set a Watchmen- Guest Blog from Simone Zelitch

The Head & The Hand Press

Simone Zelitch, author of Waveland, weighs in on Harper Lee's new novel, Go Set A Watchmen. You can read more about Simone and her recent trip to Hebron on her website. 

I’m not a Harper Lee fanatic. At some point in my life, I’d read To Kill a Mockingbird but it didn’t stick, at least not consciously. I’d seen the movie, and like most people, my vision of Atticus Finch merged seamlessly with Gregory Peck’s performance as the upright, warm father who gathered his daughter Scout on his lap at the end of the day and read to her over his half-glasses.

Then, when Lee’s Go Tell a Watchman received horrified early reviews that focused on the revelation that Atticus was a racist, I was intrigued.   I ended up rereading Mockingbird in a giant and appreciative gulp through this new lens, and discovered a far more complicated novel that set the foundation for Go Set a Watchman in unexpected ways.


The original manuscript of Go Set a Watchman was revised by Lee and her editor Tay Hohoff, and—I think—with good reason.   I joined a crowd at my local bookstore Big Blue Marble, watched the film, ate Lane Cake, and got my copy at midnight.  I started it immediately, and to some extent, my first impression remains: the novel falls flat.   Frankly, Scout as the grown-up Jean Louise with her cipher of a fiancé and her sophisticated resistance to grown-up domesticity is something of a bore, and it’s understandable that Hohoff focused on the vivid flashbacks and helped Lee reshape the book into To Kill a Mockingbird.

Yet as I kept reading, I began to see what—I think—Lee was up to.   If To Kill a Mockingbird was a kind of valentine to the invented town of Maycomb, Alabama, Go Set a Watchman is all about Maycomb’s disruption.   It’s now the late ’50s.  There are new highways through the swamps, neon signs on Main Street, and the country people like the Cunninghams have factory jobs. Most crucially, Brown vs. Board of Education has “set a watchman”—the federal government—over Maycomb. The Supreme Court that ended legal segregation of public schools is actually never mentioned by name; Atticus simply refers to it as the “Supreme Court’s bid for immortality” and lets it drop.   It isn’t until the middle of the book that we see just about every white man, including Atticus, in Maycomb’s courthouse at a Citizen’s Council meeting, listening to a hideously racist demagogue. Scout hides in the Negro balcony, observes, and afterwards, has an ice cream and vomits in the yard.

Then there’s Calpurnia.   The Finch family’s housekeeper, with the same name as Caesar’s wife, in Mockingbird, she served as a quasi-mother to Scout and her brother Jem; she taught them how to read and kept them in line.   In Watchman, early reviews warned me that  Atticus takes on the manslaughter case of Calpurnia’s grandson to ensure it wasn’t handled by the NAACP, but they didn’t mention what happens next.  When Scout decides to visit Calpurnia in the Negro Quarter, she’s met by an obsequious family and, fatally, a Calpurnia who is unrecognizably subservient, who doesn’t look her in the eye, and who insists  that of course her grandson is guilty and of course nothing can be done.

Something has shifted; a bond has been broken.   Calpurnia, who raised Scout, who– we learn in a flashback–  told her how babies were made, who mourned the death of Scout’s brother Jem to the point of agony, now relates to Scout like any other white woman, and Scout knows it. Scout says to her, “’For God’s sake talk to me right.   Don’t sit there like that.’” She gets no response, and finally simply asks, “’Tell me one thing, Cal […] please, I’ve got to know. Did you hate us?’” Scout has to wait a long time before Calpurnia shakes her head.

Horrible, horrible, the way that Scout can’t simply cross borders without consequences now.   Here’s another passage from Scout’s perspective: “It was not always like this, I swear it wasn’t. People used to trust each other for some reason, I’ve forgotten why.   They didn’t watch each other like hawks then. I wouldn’t get looks like that going up the steps ten years ago.” But as she’s told by her aunt later, nobody “goes to see Negroes anymore.”   Her aunt complains that for years, the white people of Maycomb have been good to them, bailed them out of jail, found them work, and now “the veneer of civilization’s so thin that a bunch of uppity Yankee Negroes can shatter a hundred years’ progress in five…”

What was “civilization” in To Kill a Mockingbird?   It was a consequence of good manners, and built on a credo that is really at the center of that book, as voiced by Atticus: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Civilized people take everyone’s point of view into consideration, and ethics and integrity are a personal matter. They are absolutely not the business of the Supreme Court.   Go Set a Watchman takes this credo seriously:   at the novel’s end, Scout herself is called a bigot. She’s intolerant of the racism of others. The Federal Government is not a valid watchman.   That watchman’s place is in the individual conscience; each person keeps her own.

This message of moral relativism is disturbing. It’s also keenly relevant. Can the problem of racism really be solved through legislation? Or more to the point, do people really behave better when they’re being watched?   Speaking from my own experience, the relationships I have with African Americans, as friends, students or colleagues seem just fine when they’re unexamined, but when I put them into the context of white privilege, I’m paralyzed with awkwardness.   It reminds me of the way young Scout is told to carry a full cup of hot coffee without looking at it; if she looks, she’ll drop it.

Yes, consciousness means the end of easy authenticity.   The warmth and freedom Scout felt as a child in the Quarter can’t come back. Is it enough for this conflict to resolve itself only in a single human heart? That’s what happens in novels, but what about the nonfictional world of segregationist Alabama, or contemporary Charleston, or my hometown of Philadelphia, or any other place where local customs conflict with an assertion of what might be called universal human rights? I’m about to leave for a two-week trip to the West Bank where settlers insist that outside agitators ruin the natural and authentic connection they have with their Palestinian neighbors.

Were Lee and her editor right to turn away from the contentious issues raised by Alabama in the ’50s, and turn back to the past?  For all its courtroom drama, To Kill a Mockingbird is an idyll, set in a time when when Roosevelt told people they had “nothing to fear but fear itself”. In the end, justice is served, not in a courtroom, but through eccentric individuals who do the right thing because it is their “way.”   It’s beautiful and moving, and ultimately feels reassuring. Now thanks to Go Set a Watchman, we have the opportunity to look at Mockingbirdagain, and know that Atticus was a racist all along.

Go Set a Watchman isn’t a very good novel, but it raises questions that To Kill a Mockingbird only implies.   They’re troubling questions about insiders and outsiders, about whether justice is the business of an individual or of a nation, and of whether blacks and whites, or any two groups on unequal terms, must pass through a period of anger and alienation before we can meet as equals.   Those questions aren’t fully answered.   I wonder: was there a missed opportunity to fully synthesize Atticus the Great White Hero and Atticus the Bigot?   That feels like a missed opportunity.   Essentially, Harper Lee’s work is done. It’s our job now.

Simone Zelitch

The Farm Fresh Fundraising Dinner- Photo Blog

The Head & The Hand Press

Working for an independent publisher, you learn that most everything is done by most everyone as opposed to the evil corporate-capitalist system where every little task is done by many people spread over many departments. When it came time for us to organize a fundraiser for our little press, the idea was no different. Our indie-press-turned-caterer-for-one-night-and-one-night-only was not only a huge success, but loads of fun. 

Before I begin with the details, let me take the opportunity to thank not only those who came out to support the Farm Fresh Fundraising Dinner, but everyone who volunteered their time and manpower to make this night happen. Honestly, without the continued support from our authors, Sarah Grey, Jon McGoran, Nathaniel Popkin, Eric Smith, and Joey Sweeney;  the new friends at PhilaLandmarks and the Physick House who let us use their beautiful grounds; and the massive amount of help from Art in the Age, Little Baby's Ice Cream, Soup Kitchen Cafe, Emerald Street Community Farm, and Philly Foodworks, the night would not have gone as smoothly as it did. So thank you to all, and for those reading, check all these lovely people and places out! I can assure you that you WILL NOT be disappointed.

Like I said, the night went smoothly, but not without the help from all these wonderful folks. Here's a few pictures to sum up not only the night, but also the absolute beauty that is the Physick House ( which, if you live in the area, you should totally visit). 


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The Blog Drought is Over!

The Head & The Hand Press

It's been a while since we've posted a blog. It was just one small sacrifice to bring you all some really cool projects over the past few months like the Corn Belt Almanac and the Farm Fresh Fundraising Dinner. We'd like to break the drought with a blog helping you out with your extreme case of writer's block, or as I call it, "writer's drought."

If you’ve never experienced a writing drought (or at least writer’s block), you’re either lying or you’re James Patterson. We’ve all had those long weeks where we sit down at the desk, fingers ready to go on the home row, and then, like the last twelve times you tried, nothing happens. It’s an interesting problem for a writer, either if some of you may write on your free time or if writing is paying the rent. All of this stress can leave you feeling as listless and unmotivated as left-shark. So what does a passionate writer do when it just doesn’t feel right? How does a writer manage when that feeling lasts weeks, months, possibly years?

As someone who experienced this first hand, it can be pretty depressing. There was nothing more I wanted than to be a writer. I told everyone that asked that I wanted to write books when I grew up. I was given the “Most likely to be a best selling author” honor in high school that I hung right over my desk to motivate me. I spent four years of college trying to improve my skill. During college, though, I stopped accumulating actual writings. Instead I had only numerous documents for failed stories containing a sentence or two...a whole paragraph if it was a good day. On a bad day, I’d spend more time balancing finances to see how long I could last in a micro-home.

Just like any other medical issue I have, I took my problem to the internet. Most articles gave the same, overly positive advice of “just write anything” or something more adventurous like, “go for a walk!” I sat down to “just write anything” and nothing happened. Walking was nice, but I didn’t exactly solve the problem. With the internet essentially useless in my efforts, I tackled the issue from a different angle. My thinking was that if I had a problem, just like any illness, I had to beat it at the source. It wasn’t hard to figure out why I wasn’t writing when I thought about it: I was afraid of it. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of my work not being taken seriously. I was afraid I was lied to my whole life, and I wasn’t as good as people told me. I only needed to take a few steps to break out of my drought and let inspiration finally pour it’s life-giving waters over me.

    Read the books you loved as a kid.

When I felt like I lacked inspiration, I wondered what gave me so much enthusiasm and drive to be a writer. It certainly wasn’t reading the same Jane Austen novel over and over like I was forced to in college. I think any small child would turn and run from the life of a novelist if they were required to read Pride and Prejudice more than three times. No, it wasn’t until I was bored one day and picked up A Series of Unfortunate Events again when, for the first time in a long time, I felt that warmth you get from a good book. Instead of studying the simplicity and intelligence of the writing and feeling discouraged, I finally said to myself “This is what I want to do.” After I finished the first book, then the second, then the very last, I was scrambling for that feeling again. I pulled out all my old favorites from my shelves. From the hordes of books about unicorns and dragons to more young adult novels like Holes and Walk Two Moons, each book reminded me more and more of why I wanted to write and each book left me with the same feeling they did when I was a kid; to write a book that made someone feel the same way.

Don’t ask, make your friends read your work.

If the content and quality of your writing is what you’re worried about, get a second opinion. Right now I bet you’re thinking about the first person you shove your work at in a desperate plea for help. Sometimes all you need is that reassurance that you’re not so terrible after all. Plus, a set of fresh eyes is good for catching little mistakes you might have overlooked. If you’re stuck writing because you’re nervous about someone finding your ideas silly or too confusing, have someone read it! Why write a story to have no one see it? Don’t be afraid to be specific and ask about problem areas, either. Their advice will help it grow to exactly what you want it to be. Asking my friends to read my work isn’t as close to asking as it is to politely informing them that the document is already in their inbox. Criticism is important to me. Round-table critique days were my favorite: everyone’s grade depended on giving at least one bit of advice to everyone else’s work, most importantly, mine. Even now, I still have those comments saved to look back to when I’m stuck.

Don’t worry, just write.

Yes, I understand this sounds the same as “just write anything” but it’s not  (totally). You have tasked yourself with completing a work of art, and just like any painter or musician, you have your own unique style that will set you apart from everyone else. “Just write anything” isn’t going to help you. You shouldn’t waste precious time on writing something that isn’t honest to who you are. Write what you know. Write the way only you know how. Promise me, it’s going to start out feeling awkward and messy but once you’re in the swing of it you won’t want to stop. Soon the words will come to you and it will feel just the same as it did before.

I read that drinking water can help too, but you should be staying hydrated anyway.

Writer’s drought is no-joke. It’s a tough world out there. It can be dry and hot and barren and all you want anyway is some water- so drink some!

-Erin O'Neil, Social Media Coordinator 

TALKING URBAN AG IN BEANTOWN

The Head & The Hand Press

The ethic of The Head & The Hand has always been to bring writers into as much of the process as possible. It’s a mission that I created and that has been upheld in such committed and creative fashions by both H&H Staffers and H&H Writers a like. So now that I securely (and sometimes not so securely) straddle both of those worlds with the release of my newest essay collection, Kensington Homestead, that ethic has truly been tested. I’d say about 90% of the time, I’m pretty on point. But when it comes to the ever necessary, and oftentimes effective task of extending the reach of a book tour by blogging about it, that extra 10% becomes a bit more difficult to attain.

This is obviously not because I dislike writing or traveling. Life would be fairly unlivable without the two. But even though my travels have made it into my memoir or fiction work (check out the forthcoming Corn Belt Almanac for a glimpse), I’d much rather allow the experience to exist between me and the people and places I encounter along the way. I don’t keep a journal, which makes my wife happy since I don’t disrupt our trips with long sojourns into writing mode. And I don’t take pictures, which drives my wife nuts because there’s never any proof of where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

But my latest trip to Boston for a series of book readings involved three very important people who made such an impact on me that I’d like to share with our H&H readers, PR purposes be damned

  1.     Holly Fowler- I didn’t know Holly before this trip. What I did know was that I needed to have a local person at the reading I did at Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street in Boston. Of course, the formula to a successful reading is to get a local on the bill to bring part of the crowd, even if the reading is at a place like Trident where they combine the other best pairing with books—food. But asking Holly to read was more than just to get people in the door., I knew straight away that people were going to ask about urban agriculture due to the subject matter of Kensington Homestead. And I knew that I didn’t want to be the guy standing up there not able to answer questions like, “How do I get involved in Boston?” or “Can I have chickens in my backyard?” (although I didn’t know how many people would want chickens after hearing the Mother Clucker Story). As the Managing Director of Northbound Ventures, I knew that should would be the perfect person to represent Boston. There’s always a self-consciousness when asking someone to join a reading, especially when that person is not a writer. But the first thing Holly says when I meet her is, “I’m so glad you reached out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done the same thing to complete strangers, and it has always worked out well.” That statement set the tone for what was one of my favorite readings in a long time, not just because the audience laughed at all the right parts of the essay, but also because the conversation flowed so well after that. As one of the people contributing to Boston’s sustainability plan, especially around urban agriculture, she was there to answer those tough questions regarding regulations and how to get involved, as well as trade notes with me on the difficulties and successes of working with city government, and simply growing food in a city. The last thing she said to me that night was, “I just made a new friend.” It couldn’t have ended any better way.
  1.     Raghu Krishnan- I have known Raghu for almost a decade now, albeit as one of the scientists who worked with my friend Allison and H&H Editorial Director Linda Gallant’s husband Eric. But it was one of those relationships where you don’t really know that person beyond the implication of common interest through common friends. So I didn’t know what to expect when Linda jumped into the marketing side of things and told me, “I can set you up to stay at Raghu’s if you want.” Raghu had moved to Cambridge from his adopted city of Philadelphia about a year ago. And aside from the pleasant surprise that he was the kind of guy you could sit at the bar with for hours without running out of fodder for the proverbial “shooting the shit,” the shit we were shooting had to do with one of my favorite topics—cities. Of course, Raghu had the usual observations of what it was like to shift an identity across urban lines (i.e. where to eat, where to go, how to find friends across neighborhoods). But Raghu’s observations rather quickly went into the realm of “How Cities Work.” Over a few beers at the bar, we discussed the ups and downs of Boston’s “T” (transportation system). We talked about how transplants fit into the city and how long time residents respond to them. And of course, we talked about how to grow food amongst the many backyards and “Commons” spaces throughout Boston. I’d need a whole other essay to explain what we came up with. But what inspired me was that these kinds of conversations that I have so often in the redevelopment bonanza of Philadelphia is actually on the minds of many people in many cities. Of course, you’d think this to be true. But it’s fun when it becomes part of your travel experience.
  1.     Kim from the Café- My last favorite person may sound a bit indulgent, but I don’t get out on a lot of book tours, so give me a break. After getting directions from Raghu the next morning for breakfast at the Mass Ave. Diner, I invariably got blown off course and ended up in this sweet café called Café Luna. Again, it’s nice when you can travel and find “your type of spot.” This means good, dark coffee with free refills and a sandwich where the bread is actually baked on site and the eggs actually taste fresh. I know I sound like a foodie right now, but I’d take a good breakfast over the risk of being pretentious any day of the week. So, I was being served by this woman who was really making my day. It was 7 in the morning and she had a huge smile, good recommendations, and was dance/skipping from table to table. Again, she was not pretentious or eccentric. Just happy to be having a good morning and making mine just a bit better. So she comes up to me at the end and asks if she could see the copy of Kensington Homestead that I’m looking through in preparation for my last stop for a lecture at Tufts University. She gives it a once over, tells me how much she thinks urban agriculture can change the world, and then says, “Good for you.” At this point I can’t tell if she’s saying this to me for reading it or for writing it. My face is not on the jacket or cover, and I’m not famous. But it was kind of a nice feeling for a second. So when she comes back, I ask her name. She tells me Kim. Then I ask her if she wants the book. I don’t need to embarrass her with every detail in case she reads this, but she was pretty darn excited that she was getting this book. She showed it to the cook, the hostess, the barista. As I said, I’m trying to not relish too much in this small brush with feeling like a celebrity for 15 minutes. But I think we live in a pretty cool world when someone who wrote a book about urban agriculture can garner such a response.

And I know that I live in a pretty cool world when I get to hit the road and meet such great people. So thanks Holly, Raghu, Kim and Trident Books for a good trip to Boston. See you all next time.

-Nic Esposito

MEET OUR CORN BELT CONTRIBUTORS

The Head & The Hand Press

The votes are in! Thank you so much for the many submissions we received for this anthology. They made our faces smile and our stomachs growl. We wish we could have accepted all of them. But alas, our editorial team has emerged from their literary bunker to reveal the finalized list of Corn Belt contributors.

Welcome to the H&H family, Corn Belt authors. Let’s eat.

Jon McGoran

Adrianna Borgia

Nancy Devine

Sarah Grey

Randy Brown

Kenny Gould

Nic Esposito

Wintfred Huskey

Julia C. Spring

Douglas Luman

Jared Axelrod

Chris Mohnacky

Julie Hancher

Kerri Sullivan

Keep a look out for upcoming posts about the amazingness that they are accomplishing all over the country and literary world. We’re thrilled to have them!

Sincerely,

H&H Staff