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Kelly Writers House
at the University of Pennsylvania
3805 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
tel: 215-746-POEM
fax: 215-573-9750
email: wh@writing.upenn.edu
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Hear a message about upcoming special events from Faculty Director Al Filreis.

KWH Post-Bacc Fellow 2019-20: Maya Arthur

We are thrilled to announce that MAYA ARTHUR (C’18) has been selected as the inaugural Kelly Writers House Post-Baccalaureate Fellow. The KWH Post-Bacc Fellows project extends a central objective of the Writers House: to direct resources toward opportunities, learning experiences, and foundational support for young writers. The position comes with a full year of support (a full-time salary, mentorship, and career-boosting learning opportunities). During the course of her fellowship, Maya will pursue a year-long, self-directed creative project, working closely with Professor Simone White, who has been named her faculty mentor. She will also work several hours a week at Writers House, where she will learn about PennSound and Jacket2, and will assist with public events. Here’s more about Maya: Maya is a writer and novice archivist/artist/researcher. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. During her time at Penn, she gardened in graves, started a zine library, discussed witches at length, and ate as much Fu Wah banh mi as she could. Her senior year thesis was titled "Comma, Virginia," a collection of poetry that sought to find cohesion through the collision and estrangement of genre, perspective, and mobility. In her thesis, she focused on the intricacies and history of her father's family and the small, rural town they are from and still reside. She is currently based in New York but is so excited to come back to the Writers House community. Through the KWH Post-Bacc Fellowship, she hopes to expand her thesis into a multimedia project that explores creating one's own archive. She is a 2019 Lambda Poetry Fellow. More information about the KWH Post-Bacc Fellows Program is available here: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/people/postbaccfellow/ . We’re excited to see what Maya will do! Please join us in congratulating her.

Your Language My Ear

Join us for Your Language My Ear! Click HERE for more info. This program is a translation symposium that brings together Russian and American poets, along with American scholars, translators and students of Russian poetry, for intensive translation of contemporary poetry from Russian to English and vice versa at the University of Pennsylvania. The third YLME symposium is scheduled for March 13-March 20 and will include events at Princeton University, our partner institution. Our guests for this iteration of the symposium include: Polina Barskova, Dmitry Kuzmin, Elena Mikhailik, Galina Rymbu, and Leonid Schwab. For more information, visit the project website.

9-day writer's residency—apply before 12/1/18


March 2 through March 10, 2018 (Penn’s spring break)
Buzz Bissinger and Lisa Smith, in collaboration with the Kelly Writers House, are sponsoring a writer’s residency at their guest cottage on the Long Beach Peninsula in the southwest corner of Washington State. Recipients of the Clearman Cottage Residency will reside at a fully appointed cottage (with kitchen, room to write, wifi connection, etc.) on magnificent Willapa Bay, minutes from the Pacific Ocean. The residency provides young writers with continuous writing time and space in an idyllic setting in order that they may make substantial progress on a significant writing project—a novel, short stories, literary nonfiction, journalism, play, memoir, screenplay, song lyrics, etc.
Domestic round-trip airfare, ground transportation, lodging, and a stipend for meals are provided.


Applications are due December 1, 2018. The application consists of (1) a cover letter not to exceed two pages describing your experience and interests as a writer, your affiliation with the Kelly Writers House and/or one of Penn’s writing programs, and what you hope to accomplish through the Clearman Cottage Residency; (2) a one-page description of your writing project, its scope, its likely state as of the start of the residency; (3) a short (1-5 page) writing sample, and (4) a resume, including a list of all writing courses taken at Penn (with names of instructors). Please submit application materials via email to RJ Bernocco.
You are eligible to apply if you are a currently matriculated undergraduate at Penn.

ModPo opens on 9/8/18 (ten week free course on poetry)

Since 2012 KWH has hosted a free, open, online course on modern & contemporary U.S. poetry called "ModPo." Yes, it's free (like everything else at KWH). Yes, it's truly open to all. Some 180,000 people have participated in these past six years. The new ModPo season starts on September 8. To enroll go here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/modpo . If you have questions, contact us at modpo@writing.upenn.edu.

computer-generated books

On February 5, 2018, the people of the Kelly Writers House welcomed Nick Montfort, Allison Parish, and Rafael Pérez y Pérez who joined us to talk about computer-generated book. Using Electricity is a series of computer generated books published by Counterpath Press, meant to reward reading in conventional and unconventional ways. The series title takes a line from the computer generated poem “A House of Dust,” developed by Alison Knowles with James Tenney in 1967. This work, a FORTRAN computer program and a significant early generator of poetic text, combines different lines to produce descriptions of houses. The series is edited by Nick Montfort. The first three books in the series are The Truelist by Nick Montfort, Mexica: 20 Years—20 Stories [Mexica: 20 años—20 historias] by Rafael Pérez y Pérez, and Articulations by Allison Parrish. You can watch the video recording of this event by clicking HERE. An audio recording is HERE.

How to work with a literary agent

How does a book make it from the author's hand to your bookshelf? And what role does an agent play in this? Beth Kephart leads a panel of writers and agents at the Kelly Writers House to dig into the business of publishing and marketing a book. For more info about the event, and full a recording of the program in its entirety, click here.

Camara Brown!

People associated with ModPo in the last few years will know Camara Brown as a TA and participant in a number of ModPo videos. We at KWH & ModPo are proud of her for being featured in this article: Proud and excited for my student, advisee, KWH staff colleague Camara Brown, who is featured in this article: http://www.34st.com/article/2017/04/penn-10-camara-brown Check it out: there are a few videos of Camara performing her poetry.

Sharon Hayes & Brooke O'Harra at KWH

An 18-minute excerpt from the conversation with Sharon Hayes & Brooke O'Harra. For links to recordings of the full program, click HERE.

feminist journalists

We were thrilled in February to welcome ANNA HOLMES back to the Writers House for our annual APPLEBAUM PUBLISHERS AND EDITORS SERIES. Holmes, who founded the iconic feminist website Jezebel and now serves as editor of digital voices at Fusion, will be joined by Penn English professor SALAMISHAH TILLET, along with Penn student journalists TAYLOR HOSKING and REBECCA TAN. Moderated by Creative Writing Program director JULIA BLOCH, our group of writers discussed the current state of doing feminist, anti-racist, intersectional journalism, including the new sorts of challenges journalists face around parity, opportunity, and integrity in the current political and social landscape. For more information about the event, and links to audio and video recordings, click HERE.

Tyler Burke on TV's homes

Click HERE to watch a video clip from our recent annual "Writing about TV" event. This year the theme was home. Watch Tyler Burke talking about the imaginary homes TV makes.

Steve McLaughlin

Steve McLaughlin at the Writers House on February 16, 2017. He was a KWH mainstay for some ten years—in many ways shaped our recording and digitizing protocols and added mightily to the commitment of our community to edgy edges of the avant-garde past and contemporary and really can be said—along with Chris Mustazza, Nick Montfort and Aaron Levy—to have been among our first true digital humanists. This time he was back to meet with the PennSound team as they began to plan for the future of PennSound. Welcome home, Steve!

poet friends

Ron Silliman and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, eminent poets and dear friends of the Writers House—at a recent reading. (Check out Ron's visit as a Kelly Writers House Fellow in 2011: HERE. And watch or listen to a recording of Rachel's major reading in 2011 in celebration of her long poem, Drafts: HERE.)

Our Maya Arthur

Our amazing Maya Arthur is featured in this article: http://bit.ly/2iQ2Zs5 .

PoemTalk on Tracie Morris

We have released episode #108 of the PoemTalk podcast series—a discussion of a performance piece/poem by Tracie Morris (“Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful”) with Camara Brown, Edwin Torres, and Brooke O’Harra: https://jacket2.org/podcasts/too-beautiful-poemtalk-108

online book group on performance poetry

Join Kelly Writers House online book discussion groups. We've been hosting these since 1999! Thousands of people, from around the world, have participated in these discussions. Go HERE to see the list of current groups. One of these will be hosted by Lauren Yates on "The Use of Persona in Performance Poetry." It will run from February 1 through the 10th. If you want to join this or any group. write to


To see the archives of all our previous groups, go HERE. We're pleased to thank David Roberts for an annual grant that makes KWH Book Groups possible.

join our free online open 10-week course on poetry

Kelly Writers House hosts "ModPo," a free and open online course that will run for a fifth year this fall—starting on September 10 and ending on November 21. It really is free. Join us. You will encounter poets and poems that are supposedly "difficulty" to understand but really are completely readable and enjoyable, especially the way we do it in ModPo—collaboratively. ModPo and KWH host weekly live interactive webcasts. Enroll here. Watch a 20-minute introductory video here. Watch here as ModPo'ers from around the world praise the course.

help KWH celebrate 20 years!

The Writers House is 20 years old this year. Hashtag #KWH20 and all that. We've been talking about it all year but now we're getting ready to celebrate. Join us for a party on Friday May 13th starting at 5 PM. And then again the next day, Penn's Alumni Day, for an open house from about 1 PM to 3 PM and then for our 20th Anniversary Program, from 3-5 PM. Call 215-746-POEM or email wh@writing.upenn.edu to make a reservation.

16 PennSound poems about spring

Spring comes to the home of PennSound & Kelly Writers House, and in honor of the vernal feeling the PennSound staffers have put together an anthology of poems from that vast archive about the return of warmth and green and, well, of love (ah, poetry). This selection is posted on the front page of Jacket2 magazine currently. Click here and scroll down until you see the PennSound box in the right column. To get you started, here's Paul Blackburn reading "It might as well be spring" and here's Writers House Fellow Eileen Myles performing her "April 5." The photo at right was taken by KWH Faculty Director Al Filreis on one of his springtime walks, just a block or so from 3805 Locust.

Lunch with Uzodinma Iweala - March 24 at noon

Join us on March 24, at noon, for lunch with Uzodinma Iweala. RSVP by writing wh@writing.upenn.edu or by calling 215-746-POEM. Uzodinma Iweala is a writer and medical doctor. His first book, Beasts of No Nation (HarperCollins, 2005), tells the story of a child soldier in West Africa. Beasts of No Nation won numerous awards, including the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize from Booktrust, and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second book, Our Kind of People: Thoughts on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, was released in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States in the summer of 2012. He has also published numerous short stories and essays and has worked in international development on matters of health policy. Mr. Iweala is currently working on a novel titled Speak No Evil—a series of interlinked narratives set in Washington, DC—that explores the themes of choice, freedom, and what we must compromise to live in a secure society. The book follows six different characters as they interact with one another and the city in which they live.

Elizabeth Willis will read her poetry on Tuesday, February 23

We at KWH are all thrilled to host a poetry reading by Elizabeth Willis on February 23 starting at 6 PM. Her newest book is Alive: New and Selected Poems (2015). From 1998-2002 she was Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Mills College. Since 2002 she has taught at Wesleyan University, where she is Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing. To get ready for her visit we are all listening to recordings of her previous performances at her PennSound author page. We especially recommend this recording of the title poem of the new book, "Alive": listen here.

when the old house was renovated #KWH20

The Kelly Writers House​ is 20 years old this year. We started in 1995-96. During 1997 the 1851 Tudor-style cottage was renovated entirely—although the original design was untouched, it needed totally new wiring, plumbing, roof, re-supporting, HVAC, etc. A gift from the amazing Paul Kelly enabled all this. In late 1997, when it was all done & we opened up again, we had a huge celebration. Here are Shawn Walker​, the first director, and Kerry Sherin Wright​, Shawn's successor, showing Paul the plaque that honors his gift in memory of his parents. The plaque includes the text of Dickinson's "I dwell in possbility," which includes the KWH unofficial mantra: "Of visitors, the fairest. / For occupation--this." #KWH20


This year the Writers House is 20 years old! We're going to have a big gathering/party during Alumni Weekend/Graduation Weekend, May 14-15, 2016. Please plan to join us. Watch as here and there we feature audio, video and photographs from our two decades of event hosting and community building. Here are Eric Karlan and Kristen Martin, preparing a Writers House Fellows brunch in 2009. If you have photos please post them and use the hashtag #KWH20.

Walt Whitman video added to ModPo

Recently we made five new videos for ModPo. Zach Carduner is now uploading them to the ModPo '15 site. Here's a sneak preview of one of them—on canto 47 of Whitman's "Song of Myself," which will be added to the main ModPo syllabus for week 1. And....here's your link to the video. ModPo, hosted by the Kelly Writers House, is an open online 10-week course/symposium on modern and contemporary U.S. poetry. ModPo '15 begins on 9/12/15. Enroll (free) here.

Sam Apple is a rocket boy

In the New Yorker you can find Sam Apple's essay on growing up with the Houston Rockets and Max Apple. Max, of course, is Sam's father. Both of them teach Creative Writing at Penn and are regulars at the Kelly Writers House. Here is a link to the essay.

Kelly Writers House Fellow

The amazing novelist, poet, and playwright Jessica Hagedorn visits Writers House tonight (April 27) at 6:30 PM. Hagedorn is best known for her hip, funky, surreal epic novel about Manila, Dogeaters, and for editing the anthology Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction. But she's also the author of many other poems, novels, and plays -- and is currently writing a musical adaptation of Lysley Tenorio's acclaimed short story "Felix Starro." There are a few seats left. Email whfellow@writing.upenn.edu to reserve your seat.


Monday: 10 AM – 11 PM
Tuesday: 10 AM – 11 PM
Wednesday: 10 AM – 11 PM
Thursday: 10 AM – 11 PM
Friday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Saturday: noon – 5 PM
Sunday: 6 PM – 11 PM