Tonight is our third annual Edible Books Party, sponsored by Creative Ventures

Contestants compete for highly covetable titles such as “Most Architectural,” “Most Delicious,” and “Punniest.” (Seriously – there will be a lot of puns.) 

Come on over to watch people throw down, then chow down!

And to the competitors: May the odds be ever in your flavor.

From last year’s competition: The Hunger Games; A Raisin in the Bun; 50 Shades of Earl Grey; A Ketchup in the Rye; The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

photo credit: Arielle Brousse


Tomorrow: screenwriter David Milch talks about Luck, his new HBO drama inside the world of horse racing. Milch also created Deadwood and co-created NYPD Blue.

PHILLY: Literary Boot Camp – A Free Creative Writing Workshop for Women of Color

DATES: March 19, March 26, April 2, April 9 & April 16

TIME: Wednesday evenings, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

LOCATION: Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania (3805 Locust Walk)

A boot camp for women writers of color, this multi-genre workshop invites literary artists working in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to share and develop their writing and transform their work habits. Each participant will submit their work for discussion and critique by their peers. Participants will complete in-class writing exercises and prompts, as well as short homework assignments. This workshop will be most useful for writers who are working on a project on which they would like feedback, or who are ready to jumpstart a new project.

We will meet for a total of five sessions, the first of which will be an organizational meeting. Enrollment is limited to 12.


ELIGIBILITY: The workshop is open to individuals who are adult women of color with an existing writing practice and not enrolled in any degree-granting program. Workshop participants must also be able to commit to attending every session. 

TO APPLY:  By Monday, February 24, 2014 (at midnight), please submit up to 10 pages of a writing sample, along with a single-page cover letter that includes your name, contact information, and a couple paragraphs about yourself, your current projects, and what you hope to accomplish in this workshop. Email materials to with LITERARY BOOTCAMP APPLICATION as the subject line. 

NOTIFICATION: Applicants will be notified via email by Friday, March 7.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: A. Naomi Jackson is the 2013-2014 ArtsEdge resident at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was awarded the Maytag Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction to complete her first novel. Jackson traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, her work has appeared in brilliant corners, The Encyclopedia Project, The Caribbean Writer, and Sable. Her short story, “Ladies” was the winner of the 2012 BLOOM chapbook contest. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and Vermont Studio Center and received the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker scholarship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She co-founded the Tongues Afire creative writing workshop at the Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn in 2006. 

“It’s interesting to leave home and then come to a home—and this place is very much a home. It’s a home to students who work here, who study here, for those who participate here. It’s a home for the staff definitely, and the faculty who teach here. So I don’t have to leave home to go to work, which is pretty wonderful.”

Alli Katz
Program Coordinator
Kelly Writers House

More People of Penn:

Photo credit: Scott Spitzer

‘Sensible Nonsense’ discussed at Kelly Writers House

Last night, the simple lessons of children’s literature found an older audience of writers and readers alike at the Kelly Writers House.

Arielle Brousse, assistant director for development at the Writers House, organized an event titled “Sensible Nonsense”… Brousse said that there is a wealth of wisdom in children’s books, hidden in deceptively simple prose, and through this event, she hoped to unearth more.

On the track “***Flawless” from Beyoncé new surprise, self-titled album, she samples heavily writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDxEuston “We should all be feminists” talk. Back in November 2010, before going viral as a result of this exposure, the Writers House was lucky enough to host Adichie for an intimate reading as part of our Writers Without Borders series. Watch her appearance in its entirety here.

Photo Credit: PEN American Center
Getting Schooled (a new way)

William Carlos Williams, doctor by day, wrote his poetry after work and on weekends. His famous “This Is Just to Say" is basically a refrigerator note: the sort that busy spouses leave each other all the time. I think about him as I read through ModPo coursework at odd hours. I work from home, so I can set my own schedule, but I know there are people with salaried office jobs—doctors, lawyers, editors, Dick Durbin—and I wonder how they are fitting ModPo into their lives. Are these students cramming late at night, while snacking on fruit they know their partners were saving for breakfast? Are they leaving halfhearted apologies on their refrigerators? Williams writes, "Forgive me, they were delicious / so sweet / and so cold," and I can’t help but think he’s talking about poems as well as plums.

This semester I took an amazing poetry class with 36,000 other students and chronicled the experience for the Poetry Foundation website.

The Sensible Nonsense Project LIVE — in NINE DAYS!

Help us honor the humor, pathos, and enduring wisdom of children’s books! Seven speakers will share stories about their own favorite childhood books, what those books taught them, and how those lessons continue to influence their adult lives. Stay on afterward for a delicious reception inspired by after-school snacks, and to get more information about how you, too, can participate in the project. 

Hosted by Arielle Brousse 
Sponsored by Creative Ventures 

(GED'08 G'12)

Thursday, Feb. 5th | 6:00pm | Arts Café 
Kelly Writers House | 3805 Locust Walk | FREE

Jay Kirk is the author of Kingdom Under Glass, which was named one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2010 by the Washington Post. His creative nonfiction has been published in Harper’s, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and anthologized in Best American Crime Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Submersion Journalism: Reporting in the Radical First Person from Harper’s Magazine. He was a National Magazine Award Finalist in 2013, and the recipient of a 2005 Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Vikram Paralkar was born in Mumbai, India, where he attended school, college and med school. He moved to Philadelphia in 2005 to do his residency in Internal Medicine at Temple University Hospital, and then his fellowship in Hematology-Oncology at UPenn. He currently serves as a physician-scientist at UPenn, where he treats patients with blood cancers and is engaged in research into the genetics of blood cell development. The Afflictions is his first book, published in November 2014 by Lanternfish Press, an indie press in Philadelphia. His literary agent is currently in the process of securing a publisher for his second book, a novel titled The Wounds of the Dead.
Adam Teterus is the Prodigious Point Man for Indy Hall, a coworking community in Old City. As a leader of the longest-running coworking space in the USA, he teaches skills needed to operate and maintain a collaborative, sustainable community. Adam firmly believes that all good things begin and end with an invitation to participate. He also firmly believes that comics are way cool and that Marvel’s Man-Thing is criminally underrated.

Jennifer Kobrin (GED'08 G'12) lives in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia with her dog, Wilbur, named after the eponymous literary pig. She works at the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, where she manages a citywide program that helps adults return to education. She enjoys building partnerships with education non-profits and other city agencies in Philadelphia on behalf of the Commission.

Kristie Gadson (C'15) is a Senior majoring in English with a concentration in Media, Journalism and Print Culture. The concentration is just a cover up for her to study children’s literature and comics! She wants to go into the children’s publishing field when she graduates so that she can encourage the publishing of more children’s books with prominent characters of color. 

Madeleine Wattenbarger (C'16) is a Penn junior studying Urban Studies and English. She sold her soul to the Writers House as a prefrosh and hasn’t looked back since.

Dan Spinelli (C'18) is a freshman in the College who plans to major in PPE and/or English. He loves writing in almost any form, whether it’s a screenplay, novel, or poem. Brian K. Vaughan, Matt Fraction, Vladimir Nabokov, and Bret Easton Ellis are among his favorite writers at the moment. Talk to him anytime about movies, comics, or how GREAT the Philly sports teams are doing (we hope).

April is National Poetry Month, and we can’t think of a better way to ring out the month than with our final Fellows visit of 2014 with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout!

Rae’s downstairs right now meeting with students, but if you want to get in on the conversation, tune in live via KWH-TV tonight at 6:30 for her reading, and tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM for a talk and interview. 

Free Modern/Contemporary Poetry Course Out of UPenn

A note from Al Fileris and the Kelly Writer’s House regarding a really great program to offer free online courses to anyone. 

Dear all:

As you may have heard, Stanford, Penn, Princeton and the University of Michigan are collaborating to offer free online courses to anyone, anywhere. The project has just gotten underway. In this first round, Penn is offering four courses in the arts & sciences. A course I’ve been teaching here at the Writers House for many years - Modern & Contemporary American Poetry - is one these first experiments. To find out more about the course, and to enroll, just go here:

No prior knowledge or understanding of poetry is necessary. It is a non-credit course, and again it is free. But it’s a significant and substantive version of the course I teach at Penn, and the poems and poets you encounter stand a chance of changing your life. The course begins September 1 and runs for 10 weeks. If you have questions, feel free to ask me. - Al

Al Filreis Kelly Professor, Univ. of Pennsylvania Faculty Director, Kelly Writers House Director, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing Director, PennSound Publisher, Jacket2

Hey Tumblr buds! Long time no see. 

We figured this GIFable moment was perfectly suited for Tumblr—check out Kaitlyn, Connie, Madeleine, and program coordinator Alli Katz doing some recording in the Zises Seminar Room while we put some finishing touches on the Wexler Recording Studio!

Summer’s slow at KWH, but we certainly don’t stop working. Come by and say hello!

The Snow Man

by Wallace Stevens
as read by Al Filreis at the Kelly Writers House
and as translated by Google Voice

Why don’t have a mind of winter
To regard the froth and about
The pine trees crested was not;

And I think all of a long time
To the whole junipers checked with I,
Systems, Ross, is this later

But the January son; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the win,
In the sound of a few weeks,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same way
That is blowing the same their place

For the listener, listings in the snow,
And, nothing himself, the whole
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that it it’s quite bring.


Long before Pinterest existed, the KWH work-study staffers collected snippets and bits throughout each program year so they could hand-make scrapbooks we could look back on. The books themselves float among the shelves of the House, but – because we’re just as enamored of digital as analog – we’ve also scanned them so that you can view each scrapbook here

Here’s a selection of some of the pages over the years. From the top:

  1. Two (thematically similar!) entries into our annual hand turkey competition in 2008. (It’s coming up. Get pumped.)
  2. Some ephemera from our marathon reading of The Great Gatsby in 2010.
  3. A printer glitch that produced experimental poetry from what was supposed to be a simple to-do list in 2006.
  4. A page representing our 7-Up on Space program in 2010.
  5. A “George Borge Smorgasborg” (a selection of speakers on the legendary Jorge Luis Borges), and a how-to sheet on making KWH flyers, which was helpful back when we made flyers.
  6. Photos of various hub scenes of 2007: painting chairs for our Arts Café, smashing defunct office equipment, office haiku, eating tamales in Classroom 202.
Looking for Writing Help and Inspiration in the New Year

I’m not very good at asking for help. Most of the time that’s okay because writing is such a solitary activity, but there are times when I reach a writing plateau that reading 1,000 books won’t budge me from. At those times, the best thing I can do for myself is take a writing class.

I was stuck this year. More stuck than I had been in a long time. I was working on a book I started just after grad school (three years and counting) that never went anywhere. It got longer but not more defined. The theme shifted as I grew, but the writing wasn’t looking more like a book. I needed help.

Reaching Out to a Writing Community

The safest place to turn for writing help (before I get up the gumption to take a class) is another writer. I spent a wonderful October afternoon with Liza Wolff-Francis in Austin, TX talking about writing and, more importantly, about not writing. We visited independent bookstores and confessed our difficulties. It felt amazing to share the problems I was having with someone who knew exactly what I felt like.

ModPo from Coursera and the University of Pennsylvania

Liza also told me about a modern poetry class she was taking online, ModPo from the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which means that the barrier to entry was low–I didn’t have to know how good of a student I’d be before I signed up–and that it was okay I was starting the class a month late.

The class was wonderful and I couldn’t get enough. I read poets and poems I knew and ones I’d never heard of. I was inspired to re-examine books I’d read and dismissed as I watched videos of the class TAs discussing the poems and learned about the many ways to read a poem. There were poems I liked and others I didn’t but came to understand. There were tens of thousands of students from around the world but the experience was so intimate that I felt like I was part of a writing group that met whenever I had time and would pause for me when I needed to make coffee or breakfast. I did not write the papers in the class and I’m actually still working through the poems in week 8, but I’m so thankful that this resource was available.

I’m grateful to professor Al Filreis, to the TAs, and to Liza. I’m still not working on the new book as much as I’d like, but that’s not because I’m adrift without knowing how to get to shore, it’s because I’ve been blessed to have two books slated for publication next year. I am inspired and I can’t wait to work on distilling the language and ideas for that new book.

ModPo doesn’t start again until September of next year, but if you are curious, it’s worth waiting for. Set yourself a calendar reminder to check this link around that time and sign up.

Sharing Inspiration with Others

Cheers to you, dear readers, because sharing books with you is a constant source of inspiration. The conversations we have in the comments help me think more deeply about the books and knowing that you’re out there keeps me honest about posting regularly. I know my timing has been a bit off over the holidays. As soon as I get these book edits done, I’ll be back on track. Thank you for reading. You are a very important part of my writing community.

If you are feeling full of writing goodness and want to pay it forward, I’d encourage you to support your favorite writing groups with your year-end giving. Two of my favorites are Richard Hugo House (where I’m a board member) and the Kelly Writers House (home of ModPo). Of course it’s the people who make these places alive, but cash helps keep the lights on. You could also bake some cookies for your favorite writing buddy or the person who makes you dinner while you write, or buy a brand new book (preferably from an independent bookstore) to support publishing in general.

I’ll be back in the new year to share with you the books I’m reading. Until then, I wish you a very happy new year full of writing, reading, and inspiration. Much love!

The post Looking for Writing Help and Inspiration in the New Year appeared first on A Geography of Reading.

Call for Art: Symbiosis Publication at Penn
CALL FOR PENN ARTISTS Symbiosis, a collaborative project and publication based within the Kelly Writers House, is seeking artists to get involved in their project and to submit to their magazine.  All Penn students and alumni from any school are welcomed to get involved. Symbiosis is all about the interrelationship of the visual and literary arts. The student group pairs artists with writers and encourages them to collaborate. There are no limitations on what these collaborations can be or what they mean, as long as they are the product of a mutually beneficial creative relationship. They publish an annual magazine that documents some of the most successful artist-writer collaborations on campus. The deadline for submission to the magazine will be in the spring semester, while participants in the projects can meet and work during the fall semester. The group also holds bimonthly discussion and workshop meetings. For upcoming fall events, click here. If you’re interested in getting matched up to a writer, please email the Symbiosis Project Manager, Kristie Gadson, at She will be happy to personally work with you to find someone to collaborate with. Questions? Please visit for more information or email