Special events


George Oppen's 100th Birthday

Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Thomas Devaney hosted a program featuring 100 minutes of talk and poetry honoring Oppen. Participants were Stephen Cope, George Economou, Al Filreis, Michael Heller, Ann Lauterbach, Tom Mandel, Bob Perelman, and Ron Silliman. Visit Oppen's Centennial page on PennSound for links to all the recordings and other supplementary materials.


Marathon reading of Lolita

2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the American publication of Vladimir Nabokov's infamous Lolita, a book that managed to survive cultural backlash and governmental censorship to become one of the 20th century's canonical texts. Because we at the Writers House have always been fans of literature's rebels, we knew that this momentous occasion would not pass without joyous incident. We produced, fertilized, and incubated our scheme for celebration. Beginning at noon and continuing, relentless, until we were done, a series of volunteers read Lolita out loud in its entirety to an enraptured audience in our Arts Café. Readers and audience members were treated to a delicious spread of treats plucked fresh from Lolita's pages, and given the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition commemorative T-shirt designed by the Hub.


Counter-Revolution of the Word, Al Filreis

In February, friends, colleagues, students, and alumni convened to celebrate Al Filreis and the publication of Counter-Revolution of the Word. During the Cold War an unlikely coalition of poets, editors, and politicians converged in an attempt to discredit - if not destroy - the American modernist avant-garde. Ideologically diverse yet willing to bespeak their hatred of modern poetry through the rhetoric of anticommunism, these "anticommunist antimodernists," as Filreis dubs them, joined associations such as the League for Sanity in Poetry to decry the modernist "conspiracy" against form and language. In Counter-Revolution of the Word, Filreis narrates the story of this movement and assesses its effect on American poetry and poetics.


we remember Bob Lucid

Friends, former students, family and colleagues visited the Writers House to remember and celebrate the life and Penn work of Robert "Bob" Lucid, who died on December 12, 2006. Bob's vision of a living-learning community made the Writers House possible.


"Suddenly Everyone Began Reading Aloud"

With support from the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW), Matthew Abess (C'08) spent the duration of Summer 2006 at the Sackner Archive of Concrete & Visual Poetry researching "concrete text-sound" poetry and in particular the work of innovative writer Bob Cobbing. Abess' research has culminated in two major projects: "Make Perhaps This Out Sense Of Can You",an exhibition of Cobbing's work at the Rosenwald Gallery of Penn's Van Pelt Dietrich Library; and a symposium in celebration of Cobbing's work, supported by the Kerry Sherin Wright Prize. A text examining the work of Bob Cobbing is to be published in conjunction with the exhibition and symposium.


7-Up on Bitter

7-Up on Bitter features seven people speaking about bitter things: herbs, chocolate, breakups, personalities, cold, and taste-receptors. Featuring chocolate maker Kira Baker-Doyle, poet and hub member Julia Bloch, failed-relationship expert Meredith Broussard, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, philosopher and hub member Richard Lawrence, memoirist and hub member Jamie-Lee Josselyn, and Temple University Biology Department faculty member Dr. Greg Smutzer


Mind of Winter

In January of every year, the Writers House Planning Committee embraces the post-holiday doldrums with a celebration of winter's comforts, inspired by Wallace Stevens's chilly poem, "The Snow Man." We gather here at the Writers House, stoke a big fire in the parlor, simmer several big pots of soups and stews, and share our favorite winter-themed readings with one another.


Hub Thanksgiving

The hub gathered once again for its annual Thanksgiving dinner, the biggest one yet. Delicious food abounded and the desserts were a-plenty. Each and every one stood up to give thanks, especially for making the Writers House such a special home away from home.


Kelly Writers House Tenth Anniversary Celebration

From May 12 to May 14, 2006, the Writers House community came together to celebrate ten years "since a small band of Penn students, faculty, and staff conceived a new kind of place on campus... A hub where writers of all kinds could challenge themselves and each other, where serious thinking and serious creative craziness could go hand in hand." Featuring Al Filreis, Provost Ron Daniels, Paul Kelly, current and former Writers House Directors and Program Coordinators, and many other members of the house community.


7-Up on Ben

"7-Up on Ben" features seven members of the Writers House and Penn communities, speaking/performing/singing/telling stories for seven minutes each on some aspect of Penn's multifaceted founder. Featuring Penn History professor Michael Zuckerman, Penn artist and print instructor Matt Neff, actress and hub member Sarah Giovaniello, ypoet and hub member Tom Devaney, Penn Professor of Religious Studies Ann Matter, and poet and Writers House friend Helen Sewell Johnson.


Youth, Ink

An Inter-College Student Literary Reading, featuring undergraduate writers from the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore College, Villanova University, Haverford College, and more!


"Teacher, Scholar, Friend: A Celebration of Victorian Poetry in Memory of David DeLaura"

The Kelly Writers House and the English Department present: Teacher, Scholar, Friend: A Celebration of Victorian Poetry in memory of David DeLaura.


"In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work"

A celebration of Anthony DeCurtis's new book, In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work, with readings by friends and former students.


"Senior Capstone Event"

Each mid-May, we celebrate graduating seniors who have been closely affiliated with the Writers House community. The names of the celebrated seniors are invited to make comments, reading or a performance that is preceded by an introduction given by the Faculty Director, Director, or another key member of the Writers House staff. Attending our "capstone" program are the families and friends of the seniors - a joyous occasion for the community, truly.


"All You Need To Know About Writing"

A panel on writing, presented in cooperation with the The Philomathean Society, featuring Charles Bernstein, Deborah Burnham, Paul Hendrickson, Karen Rile, and Robert Strauss.


Amos Oz at the Kelly Writers House

The Kelly Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing were pleased to be co-sponsors of a conference devoted to the work of Amos Oz. We hosted two events during the four-day conference: a reception on Sunday, October 17 at 6 PM; and a lunch on Tuesday, October 19 at 1 PM. During the Sunday evening event, Al Filreis welcomed Oz and his translator Nicholas de Lange, Nili Gold (the conference co-organizer) and others, and the introduced Oz who read (in Hebrew) a chapter from A Tale of Love and Darkness, the memoir just then being published in English translation by De Lange. Al Filreis then read the same chapter in English, and De Lange then read another section of the book in English.


7-Up on Gold

A luminous exploration of the color gold. Seven members of the Writers House community speak, read, tell stories about gold for seven minutes each.


Steve Benson improvises "if you stop"

Poet Steve Benson challenges the limits of public performance through his experimental, spontaneous verbal improvisations. Our Steve Benson page features a link to the recording of this remarkable program.


"Writers House New York" at the Meisel Gallery in Soho

On November 7, 2002, the Meisel Gallery in Soho hosted the first "Writers House New York" event, featuring remarks and readings by Blake Martin, Greg Djanikian, Kathy Lou Schultz, Paul Hendrickson, Kerry Sherin Wright, Herman Beavers, Al Filreis, and Lauren Rile Smith. One hundred and twenty New York-based friends of the Writers House, many of them Penn Alumni, attended.


A reading and conversation with CARL RAKOSI via live audiocast

Join us at 7 PM (eastern time) or a reading, conversation and celebration with this legendary poet, who will join us from his home in San Francisco.


The 2-1-5 Literary Festival presents "Poetry as Destination!": A reading, talk, and history chat with spoken word guru Bob Holman

Join us at 4:30 PM for a visit by Bob Holman, and for more information about the festival, see http://www.215festival.com/


Cid Corman at the Kelly Writers House

From his home in Kyoto, Japan, Cid Corman visited the Writers House for a reading and conversation. A live audience in Phialdelphia interacted with Corman, as did the world-wide audience who participated in the audiocast of the event. Corman is a uniquely appropriate guest to visit vocally rather than physically, given his important work in radio, notably the program "This is Poetry" which Corman broadcast weekly from WMEX in Boston. Corman has an extensive history as a poet, a publisher, an essayist, and a facilitator of the circulation of poetry since the 1950s. This event was co-moderated by Frank Sherlock, Fran Ryan, Tom Devaney & Al Filreis, and a recording of the event has been archived.


Finding the Words: Responses to crisis from the Marianne Moore papers & Philadelphia poets

Co-sponsored with the Rosenbach Museum and Library, on November 7, 2001, this program featured a reading by poets from the Kelly Writers House: Bob Perelman, Susan Stewart, Greg Djanikian, Jena Osman, and Tom Devaney--and introduced by Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis. The event was webcast; a recording is available here.


Craig Saper at the Kelly Writers House

Craig Saper visited us to give a talk about Fluxus. Here is an excerpt from the end of Hub member Josh Schuster's introduction of Saper: "From out of this field Craig Saper comes to us. He is the storyteller that Walter Benjamin warned us about. But he won't just tell us stories that will sooth us and rid us of our fears that grow in the all-too-triumphant field of academia. Not now, not in this world, which is at war, which is constantly in the mode of coming to terms with its own crises. All one can hope for is that somehow the world is becoming more open to such a story teller, a person like Craig Saper who will engage and possibly dazzle his audience, not simply with knowledge, but with something far more intimate to what is called thinking."


Geoffrey Hartman Leading a Seminar on Holocaust Survivor Testimonies

The Pilot Curriculum Project of the College of Arts & Sciences, the Kelly Writers House, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Annenberg School for Communication together sponsored a seminar on holocaust survivor testimonies led by Geoffrey Hartman, Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, Yale University. A recording of this event has been archived. Geoffrey Hartman is the author of more than twenty books and hundreds of essays, and is one of America's most renowned literary scholars. Prof. Hartman also founded the Fortnoff Video Archives of Holocaust Testimonies and has written extensively on literary and moral questions related to the Holocaust.

09.01 - 10.01

Kelly Writers House helps celebrate 125 years of women at Penn

The Writers House participated in the University's celebration of 125 years of women at Penn. A Kelly Writers House Alumni Electronic Book Group dedicated a month to poetry written by Penn women (led by Al Filreis, Tehneer Oksman, and Heather Starr), and an edition of the monthly radio program, "Live at the Writers House" was devoted to Penn women writers.


Brave Testimony: African American Poets in the 21st Century

The Writers House and The Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania presented readings by prominent African American writers.


9 Contemporary Poets Read Themselves through Modernism

On three nights during the Modernist Studies Association Conference taking place on Penn's campus, nine contemporary poets read their work through the influence of a modernist. Each night featured three contemporary poets reading their own and a modernist's writings, thirty-minute selections chosen to express a relationship to the work of modernism. These programs were recorded in digital audio, and are now available as a permanent archive of the project."New Modernisms II" was cosponsored by Penn's Department of English, Kelly Writers House, Penn Humanities Forum, School of Arts and Sciences, and Office of the Vice-Provost. The "Nine Poets" program was sponsored by The Writers House, Creative Writing Program, and Modernist Studies Association.

04.04.00 - 04.13.00

John Updike visits the University of the Pennsylvania: Live Webcast at the Kelly Writers House

On Thursday, April 13 at 11am EST, Lorene Carey inverviewed John Updike at the Writers House for a live internet broadcast before his presentation at 4:30pm in Logan Hall.

On Tuesday, April 4, as a prequel to this event, Dan Traister led a talk and lively discussion comparing and contrasting John Updike's version of Hamlet, as found in his new work, Gertrude and Claudius.


Bill Ivey, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, spends the day at the Writers House

On February 24, the Writers House welcomed NEA Chair Bill Ivey to Penn for a series of conversations with young artists and students, members of Philadelphia's thriving literary and arts scene, and the city at large.

Co-sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art

Bill Ivey is the seventh Chairman of the NEA. From 1971-1998, he was Director of the Country Music Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1994, Ivey was appointed to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, where he was a major contributor to "Creative America," and analysis of American cultural life. A writer, teacher, and musician, Ivey served two terms as Chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which produces the Grammy Awards.


Poets and Composers: Listening to Each Other

The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Fourm and the Kelly Writers House brought together poets and composers to share and discuss their work before and with an audience.


Halloween 1999

On Halloween Eve, Writers House and ArtsHouse collaborated on a Halloween Reading and Concert, complete with paper bag lanterns, cobwebs, and a full lineup of Penn talent.


Tea with John Ashbery


Walt Whitman Excursion


Magnetic Poetry Project

Celebrating National Poetry Month, the "Poetry Bug"--a Volkswagen New Beetle covered with oversize poetry magnets--was here in Philadelphia, on a visit coordinated by the Kelly Writers House and Magnetic Poetry.


A Saturday Coffee Break

Philadelphia's own emerging & established writers, reading at Xando coffee shops throughout the city. In association with the Penn Humanities Forum.


Poets in the News

During April (National Poetry Month) in 1999, fourteen poets from the Kelly Writers House -- students, professors, alumni, and staff -- published occasional poems on the Commentary page of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Each poem, which had to be fifteen lines or less, was inspired by an article that had appeared in The Inquirer a week before.


Al Filreis - Pennsylvania Professor of the Year

Unveiled during the December 5 program, this commemorative website was created to celebrate Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis and this prestigious award.


Magnetic Poetry Wall Project

In honor of National Poetry month, The Magnetic Poetry Wall Project was a month-long "residency" on Penn's College Green.


Xconnect Print Issue #2 Launch Party

On Tuesday, March 3, 1998, Xconnect celebrated the publication of its second print issue. The event featured poetry readings by Temple professors Toby Olson, Alan Singer & William Van Wert.


Kelly Writers House Re-Opening Celebration

A generous donation from Paul Kelly (C'62 WG'64) enabled an extensive renovation of the Writers House. On December 11 we celebrated this gift and the House's re-opening.


Writing a Community

One of the first Writers House events.