An essay called ‘Share Something Greater’ I wrote on the social impact possibilities of consumer technology was published in the Asteroid Belt Almanac, an anthology from the Head and the Hand Press, a small publisher based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to also be included in their Rust Belt Almanac as well.
The Rust Belt Rising Almanac is a beautiful anthology of narratives from what is new and inspiring in post-industrial American cities from the Head and the Hand Press, a small, craft publisher startup based in Fishtown, Philadelphia.
The anthology was released Friday. I met the Press’s founder Nic Esposito a couple years ago in Center City and have followed him since, moved by his own publishing startup story. He has a space on Frankford Avenue that serves as something of a creative writing coworking space — a monthly fee to be part of the strong community he’s created. When I saw his call for submissions, I knew I wanted to take part and am proud I was selected along with a dozen far more accomplished, talented fiction writers.
The anthology is worth the $17, so you should buy it here. Below I have the first few grafs of my small submission, find the rest in the book itself.
A submission I made to a book anthology out of the noted Kelly Writers House has been accepted.
The collection, called Philos Adelphos Irrealis, was meant to portray various states of Philadelphia that never came to pass — in 200 words or less. I focused mine on the aborted effort in the late 1980s for Northeast Philadelphia to secede from the city and form its own municipality.
After some discussion with a dear friend, I decided to show something that might not have happened if that secession occurred. I also decided to do what I knew best (and what I thought would be unique to the collection): offer a submission in traditional newspaper style.
See the submission below and head over to the University City staple to purchase a copy for $5 to get a variety of local writerly takes on the prompt.
By Christopher Wink | Oct 23, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
You take trains from big cities to other big cities. Lands, untold by tour books and unseen by sloppy tourists like yourself, unfold beneath your high carriage of jet setting: two months, 10 cities 3,000 miles wide and two or three days deep.
You are riding great dividers of place and time, laughing at great empires of history. Slicing corridors of culture. Other trains pass with silent screams at 70 miles per hour. You mull issues of personal importance and navigate narrow bathrooms.
There’s the old story of the boy who took a train and came back a man. No great story of accomplishment or adventure, but stalking late-night cars and toeing empty rail yards. Sleeping with a bag in his lap until he wanted someone to know him again. Until he learned who is chasing whom.
By Christopher Wink | Oct. 8, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
Worlds – yes, disparate worlds – come to some form of a cross-section in red-eyed, late nights in train stations.
Early Tuesday morning, we were doing that, surfing the intersection of the young and the acutely itinerant – being reminded of the sociological difference between situational and generational poverty.
We, three, were in a 24-hour coffee shop just before 1 A.M., waiting on a 6 A.M. train. A security guard recommended the spot, a few modern chairs off to the side where people buy cups of foam and cream. A young man, a year or two my junior, sat beside me, tapping his foot and twitching in his chair, regularly, if subtly. The kind of movements you might expect at 1 A.M. in a late-night train station coffee shop.
By Christopher Wink | Oct 26, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
He liked the movement of the mouse cursor on my computer screen. So I pried his hands from the keys and opened up Microsoft Paint. With a few interruptions to change color and tool, a four-year-old who stumbled upon me in a park in Budapest, Hungary drew me a computer-generated painting.
Children don’t likely understand the concept of language. I certainly don’t remember when I learned of the six billion people in the world, most don’t speak like me. The little boy with the dirty sweatsuit, dirt on his brown-olive skin, and sand in his bushy, black hair spoke on to me, in a language I couldn’t understand.
He shrieked, too. First when – hoping to get him to stop smacking my laptop – I took his underarms and lifted him into the hanging leaves of a nearby tree.
He was positively gleeful.
He got on toy horse near the swings and – with a strong-armed point and another high-pitched shout – demanded I get on one nearby. For a few good moments, he and I raced fast and long toward a Soviet-era apartment complex across the street.
Then he got off and wanted to be lifted more. Offering demand I still couldn’t understand, but smiling in a way I could.
I don’t know where he went. Someone called what I thought was a name – a woman in the distance. He asked me to lift him once more – into the branches and leaves. He spoke more to me, grabbed some leaves and tossed them at me – sand included – and was gone.
Running off with a green soccer ball. A young boy I’ll never know. Who shrieked in my ears, threw sand at my face and gave me a pleasant picture to keep.
Originally written for the travel blog WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com.
By Christopher Wink | Oct 9, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
We meet Sander and Neek at the outskirts of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Sean, his brother Brian, and I are on a bridge demarcating where the sex ends and the large, quiet residences begin. A small, sloping bridge over a small canal, 15-feet wide, on which covered bicycle taxis perch to take drunk tourists back to their hotels.
We’re deciding if one more walk through the alleyways glancing at half-naked women in their rented window brothel doorways would be one too many. Half-naked women tap on the glass under red fluorescent lighting – the most give and take you’ll ever have window shopping. They’ll sleep with you for a little money. This is one half of many people’s Amsterdam.
Sander and Neek walk by reminding us of the other half, shouting at us to ’smoke weed everday.”
By Christopher Wink | Dec. 30, 2008 | Publish2
It is 11:55 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2008: minutes before deadline. Perfect.
I am very young and very green. Sometimes I spend entire hours thinking about everything I don’t know. Then I go ask a journalist.
My name is Christopher Wink, and I am the future of journalism because I don’t know anyone who loves the history of journalism and is excited by the future of journalism as much as I am. New media punditry is mostly filled with those who say print is dead and seem downright gleeful about it, and those who are still wondering, hey, why don’t all the newspapers get together and not put any content online?
I want to do both.
By Christopher Wink | June 9, 2008 | Newsweek submission
Bill Cosby told me I shouldn’t worry. No one was going to remember anything I said anyway.
In May, I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and was honored to address my peers and their families as our student commencement speaker. For my portion, I urged Temple graduates of 2008, in addition to those of the past and those yet to come, to stand by our obligation to leveraging our intellectual capital in the communities that surround the university’s Main Campus in central North Philadelphia.
Temple’s gift is that it is surrounded by neighborhoods that aren’t as near to any other university as large and as influential. I hope my fellow graduates and I remember and forever appreciate that, I said.
Cosby – the seminal 20th-century entertainment icon turned controversial race commentator – addressed my fellow graduates after I did.
“I told Wink,” Cosby said to nearly 10,000 new-alumni and family members. “Wink, don’t give that speech. Nobody’s going to remember a thing you said, Wink.”
He told me something similar before we went on.
“Nobody will even be listening,” he assured me.
Of course, despite what I might want to think, the Cos knew what he was saying.
Each May universities parade big name celebrities, politicians and intellectuals through their graduations to get attention, to display prestige and, perhaps, to make a meaningful experience a memorable day. But we mostly forget who spoke at graduations of the past. These speeches have become routine and predictable. I am not foolish enough to think my seven minutes were anything anyone will remember for very long, if anyone was listening at all. Graduations are full of children and grandparents, lots of people who are there for one face of thousands, not the speeches, not the pomp, not the circumstance. The words of this 22-year-old have likely already been completely forgotten by most.
Cosby’s address though was something different for my graduating class.
Bill Cosby was raised in Philadelphia and went to Temple. He is among our best known alumni and a member of our Board of Trustees. What’s more, rather than trot our celebrities or politicians, Cosby was the lone speaker at Temple’s commencements throughout the 1990s through 2003.
But he hadn’t spoken at a university-wide event since August 2004, when he welcomed the Class of 2008 – my class – by promising to be at our graduation four years later if we were there. In the last weeks of my college career, The Temple News, the university’s student newspaper, wrote editorials calling on Cosby to be true to his word. But his publicist didn’t call back, and Temple’s administration had “no official stance.”
Some said the relationship started to fracture after January 2004 allegations that he sexually assaulted a former Temple employee. Some said Cosby’s book tour that featured him critiquing elements of black America didn’t help.
But he showed up, and then he walked into the Liacouras Center – with me at his side – and it sounded like a rock concert – not too bad for a 70-year-old (July 12, 1937). Young faces of every color and background – the hallmark of the self-labeled ‘diversity university’ – dressed in black gowns, draped over each other to stick out digital cameras and cell phones. Bill Cosby and I, preceded and followed by university dignitaries, split the graduates down the middle of our college’s basketball court, thousands of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and cousins and friends applauding from their feet.
Temple’s graduations are not known to be reserved affairs.
“They weren’t cheering for you,” he would later tell me.
Of those pictures that so many screaming Temple graduates accidentally took of me when Cosby strode too quickly, the comedian had a similarly cutting remark that still makes me laugh.
“They’ll crop you out by tomorrow,” he promised me.
After I spoke, University President Ann Weaver Hart introduced Dr. William H. Cosby. The crowd again rang out, like we were at one of his comedy shows, not our own graduation.
“Thank God nobody has yet asked you to follow your dream,” Cosby said. “Because you never really slept that well so that you could dream.”
And we laughed.
“You have no clear idea what is forward,” he said of our futures. He gestured up to the families crowded on the second level of our basketball arena. “Only the people sitting up here have any idea where you should go and what you should be.”
And we cheered.
Temple is a big-name, professional research institution like many others in this country. In many ways, the college experience has merged into a single story. Leave home. Drink beer. Study. Frisbee. Study. Throw your cap in the air to the tune of the same speech. One from the biggest name a university can bring in, or the most sentimental story that can be told or the advice from some 22-year-old who is too young to know much of anything.
No one from Temple’s Class of 2008 will remember my speech, but I suspect they will remember Bill Cosby. I know I will.
As submitted to Newsweek magazine’s ‘My Turn’ column in June 2008.
By Christopher Wink | May 08, 2008
One week from yesterday three strangers riding beside me on the 3 bus will be dead.
But I can’t know it. It hasn’t happened, and I’ve never spoken to them before and won’t in the future. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even like know they were there, except for the boy, and that was only because his iPod was playing so loud I heard the bass of his trashy hip hop.
In just six days he will die on the same day as two others he doesn’t know.
I just want to get home without listening to what’s left of the music in some teenage boy’s ears.
I work at my uncle’s deli near Wissinoming Park. Normally my boyfriend picks me up after his afternoon class at Holy Family and has dinner with my dad and me in Port Richmond, but he has some group project. So I’m on the 3 with Jimmy Quinn.