Everyone loves telling stories. Whether reliving last weekend’s escapades, reminiscing about high school or repeating the absolutely ridiculous thing a professor said in class this week, this urge to share snapshots of daily life is embraced by Philadelphia’s First Person Arts. Now in its tenth year, First Person Arts is committed to promoting and facilitating the art of the memoir and documentary through a variety of mediums. Everyone has a story to tell — First Person Arts can help you find yours.

Adult Education Courses

Not ready for the commitment of a semester-long creative writing course? FPA offers focused, small classes on writing memoirs, taught by writer and editor August Tarrier, who has taught at Villanova and Temple Universities. Workshop pieces already in progress or begin something new, perhaps inspired by one of the many in-class writing exercises.

It’s not too late to sign up for the intensive workshop this weekend, taking place on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 — 4:00 p.m. each day at the First Person offices at 1 South Broad St. Interested in working over a longer period of time? Classes will be held from 6:00 — 8:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings from March 11 — April 15.

First Person Salons

Bryn Mawr Film Institute

824 W. Lancaster Ave.

March 9, 7:00 p.m.

$15 non-members, $10 for members

Calling it a “salon” makes it sound that much more sophisticated, right? First Person Arts sponsors a series of events that showcase emerging and established artists and their memoir and documentary work, like the upcoming conversation between printmaker Daniel Heyman, comic book creator Jamar Nicholas and cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

Heyman’s recent work incorporates the words and experiences of prisoners in Jordan and Turkey, while Neufeld’s drawings look to his own life, including his work as a Red Cross volunteer after Hurricane Katrina. Nicholas will discuss his current project, a reinterpretation of Geoffrey Canada’s Fist Stick Knife Gun. A screening of Persepolis, that movie memoir Philadelphia just can’t seem to escape, will follow the discussion.

Think you’ve got what it takes to present your art at a salon? Check out the First Person Arts website for an application.

Story Slams

See below for dates, locations and themes

$10 for non-members, $8 for First Person Arts Members

After you’ve perfected your story-writing skills, take to the stage. Try one of the twice monthly First Person StorySlams, themed storytelling competitions held just down the street at World Cafe Live and a little farther afield at South Street’s L’Etage. Ten storytellers are chosen at random from a hat, and each have five minutes to wow the crowd with their true story and its delivery. Judges, selected from the audience, score these performances. At the end of 2010, all of these winners will come together in the "Grand Slam" to decide once and for all (or at least until next year) who the best storyteller in Philadelphia is. L’Etage is affiliated with the excellent creperie Beau Monde and World Cafe Live offers a full menu so make a night of it and go hear (or tell) some captivating tales over dinner.

World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut St.

Doors at 7:30 p.m, Slam begins at 8:30 p.m.

2nd Mondays March 8: Funeral

April 12: Perfect Storm

May 10: No Way Out

June 14: Payback

July 12: Criminal Intent

August 9: Off the Charts

September 13: It’s in the Mail

October 11: Last Chance


624 S. 6th St.

Doors at 7:30 p.m., Slam begins at 8:30 p.m.

4th Tuesdays

February 23: Emergency!

March 23: Gifts

April 27: Whoppers

May 25: Faulty Logic

June 22: Epic Fail

July 27: Dates to Remember

August 24: Bad Company

September 28: Friends with Benefits

October 26: Faking It