Minutes of Kelly Writers House Planning Committee Meeting

Tuesday, January 13, 1998

by Nate Chinen


Meeting begins at 4:45 p.m., and includes these first-time planning committee visitors:

Julie Kessler - undergraduate student
Pete Rock - first novelist, just finished a fellowship at Stanford, has taught at San Francisco State
Travis Liberty - who works in the Provost's office and hopes to start a Writers House book club

Also in attendance:

Heather Laszlo (who now works here!)
Kerry Sherin
Nate Chinen
Joshua Schuster
Teresa Leo
Dave Deifer
Kristen Gallagher
Al Filreis
(for the first few minutes)

Next hub meeting will be on 2/5

Kerry: "I had a fabulous time at the Grand Opening. It was so spiritually satisfying."

Dave Deifer passes out copies of the new printed issue of Xconnect.

Al addresses the issue of hub members who are not entirely active in the goings-on of the Writers House. "I think we ought to go back to people on the hub and see what they want to do," he says. "We probably need to get a core feeling so that the listserv gets lively with the democratic process."

Julie asks what the hub is. Al and others give a brief explanation.

Al: "We should create a situation where the hub feels like the people that we see a lot around the house. The other listservs were created for announcements so that the hub could be reserved for talking."

Al also says: "I committed for next years budget a thousand dollars to help contribute to the Arthur Ross Gallery's taking on of the "Shout" exhibit -- we think that the Writers House is good to be promoting this kind of thing." This would be a collaboration with former English faculty member Bob Lucid, involving Civil War survivors. The committee is generally supportive of the idea, and will await more details from Al and Kerry.

Al excuses himself.

Kerry addresses the policy of managing the schedule at the House; how can we maintain a balance?

Dave Deifer: "We could establish a maximum of two days a week of outside (non-hub) events."

Kerry: "Suppose we say weíll have only so many faculty events and so many alumni events per semester." Kerry quotes Jackson Mac Low: "Whoa, you have towels in the bathroom!"

Suggestion from Josh: "We should try to get a more diverse faculty and alumni series. We donít have a lecture series. We should host a little more theory. To be honest, weíve had a lot of literary agents, especially from Norton."

Kerry: "For alumni, thereís definitely a bottom and a top that isnít being hit. We have a childrenís book author coming in the spring, a grant writer, a journalist, a poet."

Travis: "Are the concerns because there are too many faculty and alumni involved?"

Kerry: "The real question is what policies can we set so that in the future we have time for us without offending anyone."

Dave: "In the past, all the events were proposed by this group. Now what weíre experiencing is people from the University community wanting to hold their events in this space."

Travis: "How about possibly setting a deadline -- all submissions have to be received by a certain deadline, to be reviewed by the committee?"

Dave: "...with a proposal."

Approval method: Voting? What about things that are free?

Dave: "We should always just use the back room on the second floor as the free space."

Teresa: "If you have to use this room, what about a noontime reading?"

Kerry: Another possibility is that we only do alumni things that are co-sponsored with the School of Arts and Sciences. The advantage of that is that we wouldnít need to do very much with programming. The School of Arts and Sciences has a much saner approach to events scheduling.

New policy: A limit of five alumni events and five faculty events per semester

Kerry: The proposal guidelines were never really used, theyíve never been followed, and I never enforced them.

Josh: The big problem with graduate students is that they think their time is so important. Iím serious! Iíve heard so much bullshit.

Kerry lists faculty who asked if they could read:

-Mark Harmon, translator of The Castle
-Wendy Steiner, will talk about straddling various fences
-Larry Robbins, Wharton professor
-Susan Stewart offered to do something on a weekend about teaching GED
Kristen: "Nijmieís literary project meets from 1-3 this Saturday for the first time."

Joshua Schuster re: The Things: "If people ever need a date, Iím happy to give up a date. Weíre flexible."

Josh suggests Avital Ronell: "Why donít you give Kristen & me one lecture date later in the semester, and if we canít get her, we can get someone else." (Allocate $500 for this)

Dave: "Xconnect wants to celebrate the new release of our second print issue and the new release of our February web issue. We want to invite Toby Olsen, Bill Van Wert, and hopefully Susan Stewart. Maybe we could put aside $275 or so for them. Maybe do it on a Saturday, with a lot of people here, 50-100. We can put some of the money up for the food -- anything over $500 we would pay for. I think thereís enough time now that we can plan a really good party. The influence of Penn is that we get as many experimental writers as possible. I think if you were an outsider and you saw the different poets and writers that came here, itís on the experimental side..."

Kerry: If you look at the calendars, I think it only feels like that from the inside." (Assent all around). "I think that sounds really great, and Toby Olsen edited an edition of a journal called For Narrative Poets, and Susan Stewart is one of the poets featured. You might want to see if you can get a copy of that and sell it."

Dave: "Iíd like to have the party on a Saturday night."

Kerry looks through the calendar and realizes that there are no more Saturday nights free. Dave suggests a Friday night.

Kerry: "Letís talk about Fridays. If you want me to keep working here, we need to keep Friday nights free. Itís the only night that I get to cook dinner here with Scott. I need that day so badly that I canít even begin to tell you."

We discuss the possibility of closing on Sundays and leaving Fridays open. Kerry is fine with that idea. The only thing on Sunday is writing advising. However, the Writing Advisors would almost certainly feel short-changed by such an arrangement.

Nateís opinion: Opening Fridays is a bad idea, just because the question arises of who gets it. Our current policy is at least fair.

Kerry suggests sacrificing Thursday, March 5th for Daveís party, and bumping Charlotte Bacon. This is now the tentative date for the event.

Kerry: "Talking Film doesnít have many guests this semester yet." Craig Saper has called and offered to help find people.

Kerry: "What we have is an embarrassment of riches; we donít have a dearth of ideas."

Travis excuses himself.

Kerry suggests Lydia Davis.

Teresa, Josh & Dave suggest getting a non-profit code for mailing.

Philly Talks budget; recent issue cost $200.

Cheaper copying options:

-Possibility of buying a copier (Kerry says: "Buying a copier is like buying a pasta maker; it sounds like a really good idea, but you can usually get it done much cheaper by somebody else.")

-Josh suggests approaching the English Dept. for use of their copier

Pete excuses himself.

Approx. $2500 left in budget; how should we allocate this? Possibly a few chapbooks? Jim Jarmusch, other film people?

Josh mentions chapbooks, buying materials. Kerry suggests he contact the University of the Arts (which has a series on bookmaking), Dave suggests Campus Copy.

Teresa suggests bringing Yusef Komunyakaa, who will be reading at Princeton. Possibility of co-sponsorship with African American studies.

Kerry: Do we want to kick in money for Charles Fuller and John Henry Redwood? Af-Am Studies asked for $200 for each.

Susan Howe is also a possibility

Nate pitches hub party, hub poetry workshop, and Julian Pressley gig (all of which will be presented to the listserv)