Philly Storied City gives a voice to all

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To become a writer, you simply need to write, but becoming published is a whole different story.

Philly Storied City is giving Philadelphians the opportunity to do just that.

A new and free local initiative recently opened submissions for a project that is meant to promote creativity for all and also offer a way for writers to gain a larger audience. With Philly Storied Cities, Philadelphians will be able to submit and read locally written stories, poems, and creative nonfiction by publishing them online and in print via their innovative dispensers located around town. This new creative opportunity comes from the French company Short Edition, creator of the Short Story Dispenser. Plans to come to the City of Brotherly Love were in full swing before the pandemic hit earlier this year.

“We always wanted to make it more local, so the objective is to have local stories in the dispensaries so people can enjoy both international literature, but also stories written by their neighbors and their friends,” says Loïc Giraut, Business Development Manager for Short Edition. “At the same time, we want to promote reading and writing on a citywide scale. So giving access to literature to all communities throughout the city and also reaching out to communities to have all voices heard. That’s why we had mentioned neighborhoods that maybe might not have the same access and resources to education, we want to have all voices heard and that’s what it’s really about.”

Submissions are now open for all writers in Philadelphia, whether you’re someone who has a career in words, loves to create stories or poems, or simply wants to take a crack at penning their first work. There is no deadline at this time—all you have to do is submit your stories, poems or creative nonfiction to their website, and if selected, your submission could be included in dispensers around Philly or even around the world. The only guideline is to keep your work under 8,000 characters.

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According to a release, the Short Story Dispensers are like vending machines for creative writing, spinning out stories on thick receipt-like paper, free of charge for the public. And now, thanks to new technology, Short Edition has made the dispensers COVID-19-safe with touch-free buttons. Currently, the company has 300 dispenser locations around the world in Australia, the UK and beyond, with 110 in the U.S. currently.

“People submit to the website first, we review the story to see if it will be published on the website and in Philadelphia with our editorial team. They check everything that comes in,” says Giraut. “We see it as a way to engage with your local community. As I said before you can actually read a story that was written in Philadelphia [through this project.] We know a lot of people are writing, but not a lot of people are taking the steps to get that writing published sometimes. It’s maybe a lack of confidence or sometimes they don’t find the right path to do it, so we want to show that anyone can become an author, it’s just a matter of trying and sometimes you can be really surprised.”

There’s also a bit of financial incentive. For example, if your work is chosen for international publications, you can be paid $100 in royalties.

But to make this possible, especially after a pandemic, Short Edition had to find some help in the city they wanted to now call home. The organization partnered with Temple Institute on Disabilities, Books in Homes, the Free Library, the Knight Foundation and others to help get the initiative off of the ground.

“We needed partners, it could be magazines or writing organizations or nonprofits. On the other hand, we also tried to reach out to financial partners [and] foundation private partners that can actually buy some machines and put them in. Because of the pandemic, [it made it] complicated to have meetings to try and present projects. But even if life is not getting back to normal, people really want to start working again on projects.”

Short Edition wanted this to also be a way for students of all ages to enhance reading and writing skills, especially with the nature of schools this year being so unprecedented. That’s why one of their partners included Temple University.

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“They were a good partner for us because it allows us to work with students and we can get student content in the machine they organized already [from a] writing contest on campus. So it’s firstly a place where we have a machine but also a partner in which we can build content,” explains Giraut.

In the future, Short Edition will most likely be calling for more open submissions based on themes. But for now, the general open submission is ongoing and anyone can submit. At this time, the location for dispensers around the city can be found online, as changes in whether organizations are going to be open or close are still pending. If there is a venue that wants to house a dispenser, they are invited to let the organization know that they are interested in housing the free literature.

“We have so many stories in France of people for the first time publishing, and they were published all over the world. It creates lot of pride, they can be really proud of themselves and that’s the story we want to create on the more local level.”

For more information, visit short-edition.com

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