Reading and Writing Groups

If you want to join a non-credit workshop or discussion group, start here! A number of reading and writing groups convene at the Writers or online and most are open to new members. If you don't see the sort of group you hope to join, contact Writers House Director Jessica Lowenthal for ideas about how to start a new group.

Alumni Online Book Groups

For Penn Alumni and Penn families. To join an Online Book Group, all you need is an email account and a willingness to engage in free and perhaps freewheeling discussion of an interesting book. Groups convene online for a week, ten days, or a month and cover all kinds of writing. Recent discussions have included short stories by Richard Ford, poems by Emily Dickinson, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Backyard Workshop: a community for emerging and newly established prose writers

You are somewhere between the world of undergrad writing workshops and getting your first collection/novel published. Maybe you have a chapbook out or have won some contests, or maybe you have already published a collection and are looking to gain momentum for a second. You read and write with reckless abandon and have a stack of books on your nightstand that is about to fall over. Perhaps you're assembling a portfolio of work to apply to MFA programs.

If you are any of these things, and definitely a writer of short stories, novels, or prose poetry and live in Philadelphia, consider becoming part of Backyard Workshop. Backyard is a new group that is open to members determining format and commitment. It will be a workshop space, it will be a community. It will be unpretentious and inclusive, it will be serious and seriously awesome. Backyard will meet in the Kelly Writers House at Penn University and in a West Philly space TBA after KWH closes for the semester.

Interested? Contact: Patrick McNeil ( Please include a resume/bio and one short (no more than 15 pages) work of prose that shows a little bit of what you're about.

The Body Electric

The Body Electric is a poetry collective of undergraduate students seeking to foster a love of poetry and writing across The University of Pennsylvania campus. Every Wednesday at 8:00 PM in Room 202, we meet for workshops, in which we peer edit, collaborate, and participate in prompted writing sessions. One Sunday per month we meet for a poetry appreciation gathering, in which members share their own work or other poems they love and/or want to discuss. The Body Electric also runs a blog of our poets’ work, attends events within the Philadelphia poetry community, and performs a show of our members’ work once per semester. Our name comes from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, whose break from tradition and linking of all life to poetry and beauty inspire us. We accept all poetic forms, from innovative to traditional, spoken word to graphic poetry, and we strive to cultivate an all-embracing spirit. To join, contact Matre Grant ( or Gabriel Ferrante (

FLAM (For Lyricists and Musicians)

FLAM creates a space where singers and songwriters can collaborate and share their passions for music. Through songwriting workshops and recording sessions, members explore different aspects of music, creating amazing pieces which they showcase through social media and live performances.

Check us out, Saturdays from 1-3pm at the Kelly Writers House (rm202), and join the FLAM-ily!

Lacan Study Group

The Philadelphia Lacan Study Group & Seminar has been meeting since 1989. It is an open seminar devoted to the discussion of Lacan's main ideas and their application to broader clinical, social, and cultural issues. It functions by discussions of individual texts and presentations by internationally distinguished guest speakers. The Philadelphia Lacan Study Group aims to foster an atmosphere of collective work by which to advance Lacanian theory and practice. All are welcome. Project Director: Patricia Gherovici (

Murder by Penn Writers Group

It's a dog eat dog world and most people ain't got the nerve to write about it, but if you do (got the nerve) join this fresh upstart club. We're looking for writers who write, dashing detectives, distressful dames and sultry femme fatales from the underbelly of society. That's right: a writing group dedicated to Hardboiled, Heavy Hitting, Pulp Fiction detective stories with a nice twist of a palatable, non-pretentious literary flair. If you're interested, contact the man with plan: Jason at

Penn and Pencil Club

A creative writing workshop for Penn and Health Systems Staff. If you're a Penn employee and want to work on your creative writing, contact Luellen Fletcher (

Penn to Paper

Penn to Paper is a fiction writing critique group by students for students. Once a week, the group meets to look over excerpts of novels, or a short story by members, and offers their feedback, similar to the workshopping that occurs in Creative Writing courses. Contact Nicole Flibbert ( for meeting times and more information.


A writing group for those who create worlds of fantasy, science fiction and horror. Whether your medium is short story, novel, or screenplay, bring an idea to discuss, pages to read, or a writer's block to smash, in the company of like minded visionaries. Please contact Sara Tindley ( for details.

The Play's the Thing

An exploration of playwriting through an open-ended reading and discussion group. Meetings are held at KWH and through Skype. All are welcome, you do not need to be affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania or have a previous playwriting background. For more information, contact Amy Freeman at

Suppose An Eyes

A poetry working group where poets can come to share and discuss their work. Open to all. Contact Pat Green (

To Build A Story

The goal of our group is to create a consistent workshop for local creative writers. We are writers who need a community to help us edit and shape our work. Some of us will be applying to MFA programs while others may be seriously working on getting their work published. Anyone working towards building a fiction portfolio is welcome. We will focus on short fiction, especially the short story, but chapters from novels and/or novel excerpts are welcome. Each meeting will begin with a short discussion of a published work. Then we will move on to a group critique of our members work. All members will be expected to provide original writing and thoughtful peer critiques. The most important quality we are looking for in our fellow group members is a love and respect for the craft of writing. We are people who consider reading and writing a necessity in life and wish to discuss our work with other, like-minded people. Please email Attention: Karen, to get involved. We will meet at least once a month.

Virginia Woolf Discussion Group

For Virginia Woolf, the politics is in the writing. With this in mind, our discussions will focus on Woolf's language and how it functions in her texts. Specific works will be chosen by the group after our first meeting. At this meeting we'll discuss her essay-writing practice, and focus on her 1940 essay: "Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid." This essay - quite relevant to our world today - is available online, or in Virginia Woolf's /The Death of the Moth./ The discussion will range from Michel de Montaigne to the Dixie Chicks.

Group leader Judith Allen holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Delaware. A Virginia Woolf scholar, she has taught at the University of Delaware, Penn State University, and Penn's College of General Studies. She has published articles on the writings of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and is currently writing a book on Virginia Woolf and language.

Writers Workshop

For writers, published or working in that direction, interested in sharing their stories while giving and receiving feedback. This is a mixed genre group -- fiction writers, memoirists, creative nonfiction writers and essayists. Writing is submitted via the Internet, but critiqued in person using a traditional writers workshop format with scheduled meetings. For more information, please contact Martha Turner (

34th Street Poets

For more than ten years, the 34th Street Poets have met weekly to workshop new poems, identifying the strengths in each poem and mapping out possible revisions to improve it. Their work ranges from experimental forms to carefully crafted sonnets. The group is not currently taking new members.