Essays

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Close-up on smiling Kate. She wears diamond earrings and a high-necked blue dress, her brown hair curving around her face.

Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis could remind us to stop projecting our own fears of illness and death.

Before and after, for Kate and for me

Princess Kate’s cancer announcement brought up Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer’s own memories of fighting cancer as a mom in her late 30s. This news is an opportunity for us all to look inward and stop projecting our fears about illness and death.
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Essays 5 minute read
Near the US Capitol, a crowd, many wearing yarmulkes & tallits, hold a giant Torah-style scroll saying Rabbis for Ceasefire.

Thirteen ways of looking at a war zone: Poetry as vital pause

“I feel allergic to the show of taking sides. I want to be on the side of a just peace.”

Anndee Hochman was at an artists’ retreat on October 7, 2023, making things with words. She remembers how poetry works, even as atrocities rage.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 6 minute read
Impressionistic colored pen & ink drawing of people clustered in a living room, with various words & phrases written in black

A look back at Philly's 2023 cultural scene through the eyes of local artist Chuck Schultz

Capturing Philly performances in original drawings

Philly artist Chuck Schultz has been in the audience at concerts, plays, and dance performances throughout 2023. Now, he shares the performances through his own eyes in this one-of-a-kind BSR gallery.
Alaina Johns Chuck Schultz

Alaina Johnsand Chuck Schultz

Essays 4 minute read
A frightened-looking white man in a raglan tee sits in the dark with his knees up, leaning against a rough wall.

At the darkest time of year, horror movies bring me unexpected healing

Falling for the darkness

Melissa Strong used to leave the lights on after watching The X-Files, and hated doing anything risky or scary. But when she pushed herself to begin watching horror movies, she experienced a surprising change.
Melissa Strong

Melissa Strong

Essays 5 minute read
Hetherington, a white woman, and Roberson, a Black woman, perform together, each dancing on their own low wooden platform.

Has Philly lost touch with the true musical roots of tap dance?

Tap dance is much more than learning the steps

The true art of tap, including historic Philly dancers, has its roots in collaboration and improvisation, not recorded music or memorized choreography. Philly tap dance leader Pamela Hetherington explains.
Pamela Hetherington

Pamela Hetherington

Essays 5 minute read

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In profile, a young woman sits on the edge of a bed and leans over, clutching her head and stomach in pain.

Menstruation is a part of life, but pain doesn’t have to be

Why don’t we take women’s pain seriously?

Despite studies that show women experience pain more acutely, we wait longer for diagnosis and pain relief than men do—if we get relief at all. Isabel Soisson considers.
Isabel Soisson

Isabel Soisson

Essays 5 minute read
Crisp photo of a small gray songbird perched alertly on a twig, with pink and green foliage a blur behind it.

The freedom on the bike, and the freedom in the weeds

Making magic in the ragweed

As a boy, Kile Smith knew there was no freedom like riding your own bike on your own time. But now, as he watches the world go by from his garden, a whole new kingdom opens up.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 5 minute read
Berenstain Bears logo with the cartoon family of five light-brown bears in human clothes crowded happily together.

Remembering Stan and Jan Berenstain, the Philly artists who created the Berenstain Bears

The makers of America’s favorite bear family

Stanley Melvin Berenstain met Janice Marian Grant when they were both studying art in Philadelphia—ostensibly to join the army, but their career took a very different turn. Emily Zarevich considers.
Emily R. Zarevich

Emily R. Zarevich

Essays 3 minute read
Close-up on Anndee’s light-skinned hands, two homemade denim beanbags in the left, and one in the right, against a red wall.

As a mom, daughter, and freelancer, I'm good at juggling (figuratively). But can I really catch and let go?

This is not a metaphor

Writer Anndee Hochman is used to toggling through life: her mom, her family, her home, her work. So when life got grim, she decided to try juggling for real. How do you learn to catch and let go?
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
Knittel, wearing neon green zebra leggings, tussles with laughing audience members while falling on her back during a show.

Dive into the 2023 Philly Fringe Festival with avant-garde necromancer Sarah Knittel

Philly Fringe 2023: How did we get here?

Sarah Knittel—not a Fringe queen, but certainly a mage or wicked-cool duke—gets us ready for the 2023 fest by sharing her Fringe journey as a self-producing artist.
Sarah Knittel

Sarah Knittel

Essays 8 minute read