TrailOff

TrailOff stories coming this September!

Hey all!

Adrienne here with an update on TrailOff. Like many, our plans for this spring and summer have changed a bit.

Thankfully, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, TrailOff is still very much in the works and will now launch this fall on September 10th! We’re SO excited to bring you ten amazing stories by authors throughout the Philly region. These amazing audio experiences speak so much to the moment we’re in: a connection with natural spaces and an expansion of whose voices we hear in them. These are explorations that are by turns delightful and difficult. We’re putting the finishing touches on the app and can’t wait to share these immersing narratives with you (in a socially distance-friendly format!) very soon.

Sign up here to get a notification when the app is ready for FREE download.

In the meantime, here’s a little peak of the ten pieces that are headed your way:

 

AfaqThe Way Sand Wants for Water by afaq 

In a country built on dams holding back what we cannot bear, how do we begin to pull out the stones and let the water run through? The Way Sand Wants for Water is an ode to healing, a guided history of the land that reveals itself in poetry. Notice, breathe, and wander through a journey as fluid as the river that runs alongside it in this lesson on loss and what’s truly in the water.

Story tags: water, colonization, violence, healing, home, scars, Sudan, poetry, trees

 

 

ariWhere the Light Won’t Go by ari 

Emotionally-driven poetry meets queer Latinix experience in this Neil Gaiman-esque drama when Luz, a trans teen just killed in a car crash, meets Dog – the god of Death tasked to bring her to the underworld. In Where the Light Won’t Go a simple walk leads to discovering a set of deities sitting just behind the surface of human existence and perhaps even restarting the wheel of existence for the living world.

Story tags: Latin, singing gods, trans, violence, afterworld, fairy tale, adventure, swearing

 

carmenRiver Devil II: The Return by Carmen Maria Machado 

All Mercedes wants is to do her job: capturing behind-the-scenes shots for a cheesy horror movie sequel shot in Manayunk with her conspiracy-theorist camerawoman, Bernice. But travelers beware; the deceptively beautiful Manayunk Canal may have other ideas… Nature fights back in this cryptozoology-meets-The-Blair-Witch-Project horror story — River Devil II: The Return.

Story tags: monsters, murder, horror, The Jersey Devil, violence, Manayunk, humor, evil chanting

 

 

deniseDeeply Routed by Denise Valentine

The flow of human history, like the water rushing to the sea, cannot be easily contained. Like truth, it defies our efforts to bury, divert, or ignore it. It overflows its banks, sometimes leaking in tiny trickles; sometimes erupting violently to the surface. Deeply Routed travels to places near and far, connected by these waterways, branching off like so many tributaries that flow to the Delaware River.

Story tags: history, searching, slavery, unexpected connections, journey, intuition, unforgetting

 

doniaA Sycamore’s Psalm by donia salem harhoor

Told through the voice of a young poet collecting memories and reflections in a notebook, A Sycamore’s Psalm explores care-giving, family dynamics, loss, and roots of every kind. Travel with young Nehet – named after a tree – as she journeys through a diasporic legacy of Egypt, both ancient and contemporary, while encountering the history of the Perkiomen Creek and Trail in this gathering of lyric verse honoring loved ones present and past.

Story tags: Egypt, care-giving, dementia, Montgomery County, family, natural history, diaspora, Arabic, trees, creek, poetry

 

 

eppchez Appear to Me by Eppchez !

Appear to Me (aka A Pier to Me) mashes together the past and present itinerant denizens of the Delaware River’s piers. Filled with a dreamy troubadour spirit, rough songs and honest conversation swirl through these untold tales of the waterfront, narrated by feral cats channeling the hobo poet W. H. Davies, radical dock workers, Lenape boaters, cruisers, fishing teens, even talking litter, each simply seeking a moment of respite.

Story tags: queer history, feral cats, cruising, swearing, Wobblies, longshoreman, Yemayá, Lenni-Lenape

 

erinThe Inside Outside by Erin McMillon

Confronted with ancestral ghosts and demons of her own making, poor Trenton is having a very, very bad day. Avoid that bubbling water and find some damn shoes alongside a sarcastic heroine who overcomes monsters of land, water and maybe even her own self-doubt in the comically inspired The Inside Outside.

Story tags: epic battles, humor, monsters, anxiety dreams, violence, flashbacks, ancestors, swearing

 

 

jacob cConversations by Jacob Camacho

Diving into themes of ancestry, colonialism and race, Conversations imagines discussions that arise with the indigenous Nanticoke’ Lenni-Lenape people of past, present and future. The water of the Delaware River brings age-old questions to the surface: beckoning listeners to question, be aware of, and learn about the land they move through.

Story tags: Lenni Lenape, colonialism, Nihëlatàmweokàn, ancestral rage, time travel, water, We Are Still Here

 

 

jacob wThe Land Remembers by Jacob Winterstein

In the late 1950’s as part of Urban Renewal, Philadelphia displaced over 8,000 residents from Eastwick aka The Meadows. The area was one of Philly’s only harmoniously integrated neighborhoods at a time when many racist housing policies were legal. In The Land Remembers, Nick (aka Nickel, aka Abe aka Abraham) reminisces about his last days living there.

Story tags: race, childhood, history, friendship, nostalgia, pastrami sandwiches, Urban Renewal

 

 

LiChronicles Of Asylum by Li Sumpter

Set in future Philadelphia circa 2045 on the eve of a major cosmic event, Chronicles of Asylum follows savvy young journalist Liliquoi Brown as she investigates an otherworldly urban myth in hopes of finding two missing visitors to a refugee camp on the Schuylkill River. Exploring survival and sacrifice, home and exile, humanity’s fate and hope for the future, Chronicles follows the path of this unexpected trailblazer.

Story tags: Afrofuturism, quest, survival, mystery, epic, modern myth, climate change, apocalypse

 

Introducing the TRAILOFF Writers!

Swim Pony friends and family!

Adrienne here, writing today to bring you two exciting pieces of news about our latest creative undertaking. Back in January we shared updates on a project that was then called Story Trails, a mobile app we’ve been creating in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and app developer Toasterlab, to bring original and underrepresented stories to the trails of the Philadelphia region.

StoryTrailsMarch_JohnCHawthorne-33.jpg

Photo: John Hawthorne

First off, our project has a new name! While Story Trails was certainly descriptive, it lacked a certain… panache. It was a label that started as a working title, always with the assumption that at some point down the road we’d change it to something better. Until now! Over the past few weeks, the core creative team of the project undertook a #namestorm together and are super excited to announce our newly minted project moniker: TrailOff.

The new name says a lot about what I hope this project will be. It has allusions to writing, to thinking and meandering, to the promise of leaving the main road for the potential in trails less traveled. It’s about discovering something you never knew was hiding just beyond the obvious path. It makes me think of a favorite quote from Rebecca Solnit’s fantastic book Wanderlust: 

I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.

The second, even more exciting announcement is that we have selected 10 amazing writers, after nearly a year of outreach and connection to artists all across the region. This process was incredibly competitive and we could have chosen almost any one of the creators that submitted applications for the project. Our ten final authors are a blend of rigorous artistry, thoughtful connection to the project’s values, and communities that will connect to their works:

afaq.png 

afaq is a philly based daughter, with grandmother tendencies. assembled in yemen (from sudanese parts) afaq considers herself a  global citizen of her own country. this international award winning poet, museum exhibiting photographer, activist, and educator seeks to love the world until it loves her back. she has collaborated with Netflix, Pen America, Beautycon Media, Poetry Out Loud, the Barnes Foundation, and several universities including NYU, Columbia, and UPenn. Continuously targeted and previously arrested for her activism, afaq uses her art, experiences, and the violence she has witnessed to combat injustice while spreading messages of empathy and change. She’s writing for Camden’s Gateway Park.

ari.png

ari is a spoken word poet and educator based in north philly who began their career writing erotic fan fiction and large scale games of dungeons and dragons. Their work focuses on the Intersectionality of queer identity, trauma, and the latin experience as an outsider. ari is a member of Babel & deadname collectives and has been featured in Bedfellows and Paperback; and was featured on the philly poetry show, Drop The Mic. ari is currently looking to adopt a large cat whom they can name King Bastard. They are writing for the Chester Valley Trail.

carmen.png 

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the memoir In the Dream House, the graphic series The Low, Low Woods, and the short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. In 2018, the New York Times listed Her Body and Other Parties as a member of “The New Vanguard,” one of “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.” Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Vogue, This American Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Guernica, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. She lives in Philadelphia and is the Abrams Artist-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s writing for the northern portion of the Schuylkill River Trail.

denise.png 

Denise Valentine was a Master Storyteller, historical performer, consultant and founder of the Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project. Valentine was a storyteller of forgotten and neglected histories of the African Diaspora with special emphasis on the early history of Pennsylvania. Her workshop, Historytelling, integrated archival research, folk heritage and oral history to demonstrate the role of the expressive cultural arts in creating sustainable communities. Additionally, Denise worked as a program facilitator for the Museum of the American Revolution and served as advisor to the curatorial team of the new Early American Art Galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art opening in 2020. She wrote for the Tacony Creek Trail.

donia.png

donia salem harhoor is an Egyptian-American co-conspirator with her 12-year-old cub. ED of The Outlet Dance Project, she is an alumnus of the Community of Writers, Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute, Open Mouth Poetry Retreat, and several Winter Tangerine Review & Speakeasy Project workshops. A principal dancer and choreographer with Sakshi Productions, she is part of the Brown Girl in the Ring Collective. She was a 2016 artist-in-residence with Swim Pony. Her poetry has appeared in Anomaly, Ballet Review, and Sukoon magazines. donia believes fervently in game nights. She has her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College. She’s writing for the Perkiomen Trail. 

eppchez.png 

Eppchez ! (Ep-chez Yes) is a Quaker, gender expansive, Cuban & Jewish theater maker, musician, and designer. In 2012 Eppchez started up Alma’s Engine; a process focused production company/creative ministry developing eir new work across a variety of genera and medium; spreading whimsical and earnest dis-ease. Ey also collaborates with several other Philly theater companies as a performer deviser, choreographer and writer. Eppchez is also the founder of Darb Garb, making soft wearable sculptures for gender adventuring bodies in need of other lumps. Ey are writing for the southern section of the Delaware River Trail.

erin.png Erin T. McMillon is an urban horror and suspense author, blogger, and artist, from Trenton, N.J. Her work has been viewed and purchased by readers and curators from around the world. She is the author of several books (What’s Hiding in the Dark?: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, They Eat: An Episodic Zombie Thriller, and The Abducted), with a forthcoming release, Simone, to be released in the fourth quarter of 2019. Erin can be found on Facebook and Instagram @TheLadyWrites82 and on Amazon @erinmcmillon. She’s writing for the D & L Trail. 
jacob c.png 

Jacob Camacho is a CHamoru writer, educator, and activist born and raised in Guåhan, Islan Marianas. He received his Creative Writing MFA from Rutgers University, Camden. He is an alumni of The University of Guam and UCLA’s Extension Writers Program. He’s a Lead Teacher at All Things Are Possible, Foundation in Willingboro New Jersey and Lead Educator for the Move Mountains Project 501 (c)(3) in San Luis, Colorado.  He’s a former English Teacher at Philadelphia’s alternative high school, CADI, and NJ’s YMCA of Burlington & Camden Counties’ Academic Coach. His short story, Proclamation, appears in University of Guam’s Storyboard 18. Half-Moon is featured in Philadelphia’s MadHouse Magazine Volume 4.  His poem, Kao siña hao fumino’ Chamoru?, is in University of Hawai’i Press’ Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia. He’s writing for the north Delaware River Trail. 

jacob w.png  Jacob Winterstein is an artist, event producer and educator from Philadelphia. Through performance art, poetry and events, Jacob’s work explores how we have been separated from and how we can joyfully connect with each other and our environments. Jacob is the co-founder of The Philly Pigeon collective which organizes, poetry slams, multi-media productions, workshops and artists retreats. Jacob is currently attempting a pilgrimage down every block in Philadelphia, asking people “when life is difficult, how do you feel better?” and towing their answers on a mobile altar. He’s writing for the Heinz Wildlife Refuge.
li.png 

Li Sumpter, is a mythologist and multidisciplinary Philly-based artist. She uses world-building, D.I.Y media, afrofuturism and gameplay strategies to cultivate eco-awareness and community action around the “art of survival”. Li’s artistic practice and collaborative design initiatives address existential threats to mind, body and spirit through speculative tools and sustainability projects that illuminate symbols and patterns of change. She was the 2017 Artist-in-Residence for Haverford College’s Urban Ecology Arts Exchange and the 2018-2019 Leeway x NextFab Art and Technology Artist-in-Residence. Li strongly believes in hope and the power of myth as a catalyst of personal and collective transformation. She’s writing for the Schuylkill River Trail at Bartram’s Mile.

At the end of March we held a workshop to bring these ten amazing humans into the TrailOff fold and, wow, they did not disappoint. Swim Pony fans, you are in for what I know will be our most intimate and heart-filled project yet. This group is awe-inspiring in their sensitivity, capacity, and thoughtfulness. They are a group of deep and challenging makers that are more than I ever could have imagined when we began to dream of this project years ago.

StoryTrailsMarch_JohnCHawthorne-22.jpg

Photo: John Hawthorne

More to come in the coming months as their work begins to take form!

Be well. Be kind. Be curious.

Adrienne