Finding a Community Immersed in Writing

The Philadelphia Inquirer
April 14, 1997

On Sept. 9, the Writers House opened its doors, its goal to foster a sense of community among writers at Penn and beyond.

Before becoming resident coordinator, I had worked with many writers from many different groups on campus. But immediately, the Writers House was different. Instead of defining a community by certain entrance standards or selective affinity, it created one defined by space, and any person, thing or occurrence within that space became a part of it. At any different moment, it housed a new ``found community.''

Living and working with those who frequent the house, I've come to realize just how much we are surrounded by poetry on a daily basis. The lines between featured readings and daily conversations have blurred. Without a sheet of paper to guide them, visitors' natural utterances seem as rhythmic and dynamic as poems themselves. Words take on the personalities of the people who speak them. When they eventually end up in poems, short stories or e-mail messages, they carry the meanings our community history has given them.

The Writers House constantly invites poetry (in the form of visiting writers, journal subscriptions and book donations) into its space, and it constantly sends it out (in the work of those who are inspired by readings, workshops and homemade group dinners). This is an exciting, productive site of creative activity and recycling, one that recognizes the value of poetry and writing as a way of life. I'm eager to read the work of house poets in the future and to see the resonances of this community in my own work for years to come.