Philadelphia is a city with a rich poetic heritage, and the Poetry Collective is a curriculum for poets that seeks to honor and build upon this legacy. Founded by Jena Osman, an English teacher and author of more than five poetry collections, the Collective is a flexible and affordable program that helps poets produce high-quality manuscripts. It is open to only 12 poets at a time, ensuring a close-knit working group and plenty of personal instruction. The Poetry Collective is named after the iconic Soviet-era cartoon character, Cheburashka. It focuses on issues related to conflict and power, and has received nominations for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award in 1981. Applicants have the option of applying for the Connie Zumpf Poetry Scholarship, which is awarded to one or more poets who have been accepted to the Poetry Collective and who face financial barriers to participating, giving preference to people over 60 years of age. Philadelphia's poetic tradition dates back to the time of William Penn, when poet laureate Hoffman wrote a collection of poetry about his life.
The city was also home to Walt Whitman, who spent many years in Camden and is known for his free verse poetry and his renowned collection of poems Leaves of Grass. The Swains of the Schuylkill, a group of poets and playwrights led by rector William Smith (1727-180), met at Philadelphia College (later the University of Pennsylvania) and published their work in American Magazine. Abolitionism was controversial in Philadelphia, but it produced a lot of poetry in support of the cause. Today, Temple University's award-winning student poetry collective Babel Poetry Collective leads the university in lyrical singing through the interpretation of spoken words. The Poetry Collective in Philadelphia continues to honor this city's poetic heritage by helping poets create high-quality manuscripts.
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