Fellow in Poetics & Poetic Practice

The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice is appointed for the academic year. The fellow teaches one undergraduate seminar that integrates creative writing and poetics, and may include other topics, including performance, music, art, or critical studies. The fellow joins the community of writers, critics, and friends of contemporary writing that forms around the Kelly Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, participating in workshops and giving readings, talks, and presentations. The purpose of the fellowship project is to deepen connections young writers at Penn can make with writers of richly heterodox poetic practice whose work tends not to fit neatly into academic categories. It is expected that the fellow will make lasting connections with the faculty and students in the Penn writing communities.

The Fellow in Poetics & Poetic Practice receives a modest stipend and has access to funds for creating programs and projects. Insofar as CPCW is an innovation factory or incubator for new ideas and venturesome projects in contemporary writing, the fellow will help further this enterprise.

Our 2018-2019 Fellow is Janice Lowe

Janice Lowe Janice A. Lowe is a composer, poet and vocalizing pianist who creates music-text hybrids. In 2017, she opened the Cleveland INKubator fest with a performance by her band, Namaroon. She is the author of Leaving CLE: Poems of Nomadic Dispersal (Miami University Press) and the chapbook SWAM, a short play (Belladonna Series). Her poems have been published in Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, The Poetry Project Online, (Pre) Conceivable Bridges, American Poetry Review, Resist Much/Obey Little, Radiant Re-Sisters, The Hat, and In the Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers, and on a digital album with Drew Gardner’s Poetics Orchestra. She participated in the Renga for Obama project, the Broadside Series at Center for Book Arts, Words and Music at Word Up Bookshop, and as a writer-in-residence with Melted Away’s American Dream installation at Transformer Station. Lowe composed the opera Dusky Alice as well as the musical Lil Budda (text by Stephanie L. Jones), which was presented at the Eugene O’Neill Musical Theater Conference and in the National Alliance for Musical Theater Festival of New Works. She is also composer of the musicals Sit-In at the Five & Dime (words by Marjorie Duffield), Somewhere in Texas, and Langston & Zora (book & lyrics by Charles E. Drew, Jr.). She was commissioned to compose musical settings of the Millie-Christine poems from the Pulitzer Prize-awarded collection Olio by Tyehimba Jess, and has composed music for plays including Liza Jessie Peterson's Chiron’s Homegurl Healer Howls, Jenni Lamb's 12th and Clairmount, and Nehassiau DeGannes's Door of No Return. Lowe performs internationally and is currently recording the album Leaving CLE: Song Cycle-Songs of Nomadic Dispersal. A cofounder of both the Dark Room Collective and absolute theater co., she has taught multimedia composition at Rutgers University, sound art and writing in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics Summer Writing Program at Naropa University, and poetry and performance at Purchase College. Lowe is a longtime mentor of youth creative writing and music programs in New York City. She earned an MFA in musical theater writing from New York University and has received residencies from the Dramatists Guild, New Harmony Project, Voice and Vision, the Millay Colony, and the Rockefeller Fund at Pocantico.



On November 8, 2018, Lowe will host an event at Kelly Writers House, open to the public:


with text by Janice A. Lowe and Lee Ann Brown, and music by Janice A. Lowe: a multimedia play with music that explores the well-meaning altruism of three friends who link up to renovate an apartment for a family of recent immigrants to Brooklyn. Emotional brambles surface and intersect when the women, all transplants to New York City, morph into their child selves, meet on a surreal plane, and negotiate their shared backgrounds of having lived in in the southern United States as court-ordered busing to achieve integration of public schools was taking effect in the 1970s. The piece evolves into an audience participatory and in-the-moment sound installation interacting with the questions: Do you remember a time when you were one of a few? How did it feel to be the only one? Performers include Janice Lowe & Namaroon, DJ Manny Ward, Olithea Anglin, Lee Ann Brown, Melanie Dyer, Aliria Johnson, Bi Jean Ngo and Yohann Potico.

Support for this program has been provided by the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation.


In spring 2019 Lowe will teach English 010: Writing and Performance, Wednesdays, 2-5pm:

This introductory creative writing workshop includes the study of interdisciplinary work. From the Beats to the Black Arts Movement to the Language poets, writing as a multimedia entity has offered exciting ground for experimentation. Through writing, discussion, and sound work, including recording studio time at Kelly Writers House’s Wexler Studio, you will explore hybrid, multimedia texts by twentieth- and twenty-first-century writer-performers and installation artists, including Márcio-André, Jonathan Skinner, Julie Patton (visual and sound), Joy Harjo, Anne Waldman, LaTasha N. Diggs, Douglas Kearney (sound), Ntozake Shange (theater, dance), Harmony Holiday (sound and dance), Kate Tempest, and Kendrick Lamar (hip-hop) as well as Tracie Morris and musician Susie Ibarra (text-sound collaboration). You will write and make your own experiments with writing, sound, and other media. Practice will include cross-genre collaboration, playing with possibilities of music-text interaction, and critical engagement.

Bassini Apprenticeship:

In spring 2019 Lowe will also supervise a Bassini Apprenticeship devoted to hybrid arts. For more info, visit the Bassini Writing Apprenticeship page.

Our 2017-2018 Fellow is Yolanda Wisher

Yolanda Wisher Yolanda Wisher is the author of the poetry collection Monk Eats an Afro and the coeditor of the anthology Peace Is a Haiku Song. She holds an MA in English/Creative Writing-Poetry from Temple University and a BA in English/Black Studies from Lafayette College. Wisher is a 2015 Pew Fellow and a 2016 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence. She was named the first Poet Laureate of Montgomery County Pennsylvania in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. She founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival (2006-2010), served as Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2010-2015), and worked as a Cultural Agent and Chief Rhapsodist of Wherewithal for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (2014-2016).



In fall 2017 Wisher hosted a Kelly Writers House event:

YOLANDA WISHER & THE AFROEATERS Maple Street Rag: An Improvisational Reading
Tuesday, September 5, 6:00 PM in the Arts Cafe, Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk
Free and open to the public
Philadelphia Poet Laureate YOLANDA WISHER presents an improvisational reading from Maple Street Rag, a work-in-progress. Wisher's second volume of poems is a record of the genealogical journey she's been on since 2014, when she started researching her roots in Ambler, Pennsylvania, once known as the "asbestos capital of the world." Wisher's family lived on Maple Street in Ambler for generations, and she uses musical backdrops (like Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag"), unexpected heirlooms, DNA testing, and public records to trace, chart, prompt and shape the story of her fragmented family across centuries and continents. Wisher will read poems, share images, perform songs, and invite members of the audience to take part in a Q&A following the show. Featuring Jim Dragoni (guitar), Sirlance Gamble (drums) & Mark Palacio (double bass).

More info on this event, including a recording: Kelly Writers House Calendar


In spring 2018 Wisher is teaching English 113: Poetry Workshop, Thursday afternoons at the Writers House:
Novelist Gabriel García Márquez said, "Everyone has three lives, a public life, a private life and a secret life." This is a workshop for students who are interested in exploring how poets nurture, flex, and merge their public, private, and secret lives through writing, performance, civic engagement, and activism. In addition to discussing the poet’s changing role in society through the essays of Aime Cesaire, Muriel Rukeyser, and June Jordan as well as the work of inaugural poets and poets laureate, we will study contemporary poets whose work lives both on and off the page, including Ross Gay (a gardener), Iréne Mathieu (a pediatrician), and Ursula Rucker (a recording artist). Students will encounter a diverse series of both written and audiovisual texts, weekly writing assignments that include poems and responses to the readings, and in-class activities that stretch your imaginative and collaborative abilities.

Bassini Apprenticeship:

In spring 2018 Wisher will also supervise a Bassini Apprenticeship. For more info, visit the Bassini Writing Apprenticeship page.

Our 2016-2017 Fellow was Edwin Torres

Edwin Torres Edwin Torres was born in New York City and came to poetry as a graphic designer in New York City's East Village in the early 1990s. The iconic diversity of that neighborhood, along with the combined forces of Dixon Place, the Nuyorican Poets Café, and the St. Marks Poetry Project, shaped his multidisciplinary approach to language. He was a member of the poetry collective Nuyorican Poets Café Live, which helped revitalize spoken word in the early 1990s, performing and giving workshops worldwide. He has conducted improvisations between poets and musicians, adorned envelope pants while wearing a brain of soil, and lectured on the agency of edge as a premise for trigger. He is the author of eight books of poetry, including Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press, 2014), Yes Thing No Thing (Roof Books, 2010), In The Function of External Circumstances (Nightboat Books, 2009), and The PoPedology of an Ambient Language (Atelos Books, 2008). Torres has received fellowships from the DIA Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Performing Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Poetry Fund, among other organizations. He has been juror for a number of awards and residencies; in 2016 he’s the judge of the Andre Montoya Poetry Prize for the University of Notre Dame. Torres's visual poetics have been exhibited at Exit Art and EFA Gallery in NYC, and a graphic retrospective, Poesís: The Visual Language of Edwin Torres, at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago. His CD Holy Kid (Kill Rock Stars Records) was part of the Whitney Museum’s exhibit The American Century Part II. Anthologies include American Poets in the 21st Century: Vol. 2 (Wesleyan University), Angels of the Americlypse: An Anthology of New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath Press), Post-American Poetry Vol. 2 (Norton), Best American Poetry (Penguin), Kindergarde: Avant Garde Poems and Plays for Children (Black Radish Books), and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Holt). Torres has a dual career as a graphic designer, working in the field of advertising and design for over 25 years, becoming a self-proclaimed “lingualisualist,” fluent in the languages of sight and sound. He currently lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife and son.



In fall 2016 Torres hosted a Kelly Writers House event with Will Alexander:

Cosponsored by the Creative Writing Program and the Caroline Rothstein Oral Poetry Fund
6:00 PM in the Arts Cafe, Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk
Free and open to the public
Will Alexander and Edwin Torres, both practitioners in the fields of poetry, art, and commitment to making the creative process visible, will read from their works and then engage in an open discussion of process, genesis, the way language evolves from within a poem, and how we allow ourselves to travel within a universe of our own making in parallel to humanity's continuous shift.

WILL ALEXANDER is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, aphorist, visual artist, and pianist. Writing in various genres he is approaching his 30th title. He is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Counsel Fellow, a PEN Oakland Award winner, and an American Book Award winner. In 2016 he received the Jackson Prize for poetry.

More info on this event: Kelly Writers House Calendar


In spring 2017 Torres taught English 119: Writing and Performance, Mondays, 2-5pm:
Writers are creatures of awareness, receptive beings who embody transition. Part of allowing the creative process its chance for reception is to encourage that initial creative trigger into transition, to align our natural trilingual voice—our speaking-seeing-hearing voice—with a lateral extension of the ground we claim. We can empower amazement when we open space for the transformative roar that defines our human expression. This course will use performance, movement, and sensory exercises to allow the body its place in writing. The course is structured as a creative laboratory in which the senses can meet each other, a reintroduction of brain to language where the writing process can begin. At the tip of the iceberg we have: theater exercises, sound and visual collage, seismic crayolas, in-class raw writing and crit, Russian Futurism, the Alexander Technique, and studies of Richard Foreman, Juliana Spahr, Willie Colón, and others. The student who travels the open field will find a home here.

Our 2010-2011 Fellow was Marcella Durand

Marcella Durand Marcella Durand’s recent books include Deep Eco Pré, a collaboration with Tina Darragh published by Little Red Leaves in 2009; Area, published by Belladonna Books in 2008 as part of the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Press’s FACE OUT program, and Traffic & Weather, a site-specific book-length poem written during a residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in downtown Manhattan (Futurepoem Books, 2008). She has collaborated with artists on various projects, including most recently a collaboration with New Orleans artist Karoline Schleh titled, “Stare: What Wild New World Is This?” (exhibited at Barrister’s Gallery, Fall 2010). She has talked about the potential intersections of poetry and ecology at Kelly Writers House, Poets House, Small Press Traffic, Naropa University, and other venues. Her essays and poetry have appeared in The Nation, Ecopoetics, NYFA Current, Conjunctions, The Poker, HOW(2), Critiphoria, The Denver Quarterly, and other journals. She was a 2009 fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts.


In the Spring of 2011 Marcella will be teaching a course titled Poetry & Poetics: The Ecology of Poetry
In this course, we will delve into the emerging discipline of ecopoetics. While it has a catchy title, what ecopoetics actually is remains elusive. We will experiment with writing in forms associated with nature poetry such as the pastoral, while inventing new ones based on our own observations of the “world about.” Reading includes selections from Black Nature Poetry and The Ecolanguage Reader, as well as a range of poetry that will expand and illuminate the potentials of ecopoetics.


Our 2008-2009 Fellow was Rachel Levitsky

Rachel Levitsky's first full-length volume, Under the Sun, was published by Futurepoem books in 2003. She is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, Dearly (a+bend, 1999), Dearly 356, Cartographies of Error (Leroy, 1999), The Adventures of Yaya and Grace (PotesPoets, 1999) and 2(1x1)Portraits (Baksun, 1998). Levitsky also writes poetry plays, three of which (one with Camille Roy) have been performed in New York and San Francisco. Levitsky's work has been published in magazines such as Sentence, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Global City, The Hat, Skanky Possum, Lungfull! and in the anthology, 19 Lines: A Drawing Center Writing Anthology. She founded Belladonna--an event and publication series for avant-garde poetics in August 1999. A past fellow of The McDowell Colony and Lower Manhattan Community Council, she teaches at Pratt Institute and lives steps away from The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.


In the spring semester of 2009, Rachel will be teaching a writing course entitled Poetry and Poetic: Writing Practice of the Avant-Garde. The seminar is numbered English 111.301, Thursdays 1:30-4:30. Here is the description Rachel provides:
In this writing workshop we will take cues from the most exciting hybrid poetries by contemporary poets. Like Lila Zemborain, we will tell our story in one ever-expansive sentence, circling back and folding in toward closer examination. Like kari edwards, Carla Harryman and Leslie Scalapino we will write works notable for their quick quotidian movement and complex intellectual and emotional register. Like Rachel Zolf, M. Norbese Philip and Tisa Bryant we will cull language, image and thinking from multiple outside sources as a method in which one may both complicate and maintain an ethical position. And like Dodie Bellamy, Robert Gluck and Etel Adnan we will tell it as it is, in straightforward and deeply intelligent prose. We will practice approaching our writing through a variety of other fields such as science, philosophy and visual art. As a part of this workshop, students will edit and amplify each others' work through publication and performance. Additionally, some of the authors we read will be visiting the campus for lunch talks and after-class visits.


Our 2007-2008 Fellow was Tracie Morris

Tracie Morris is a multi-disciplinary poet who has worked in theater, dance, music and film. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. Primarily known as a "musical poet," Tracie has worked with an extensive range of internationally recognized musicians and other artists. She has participated in a dozen recording projects. Her sound poetry has most recently been featured in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for poetry including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Creative Capital Fellowship, the National Haiku Slam Championship and an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship. She is the author of two poetry collections, Intermission and Chap-T-her Won.

Tracie's poetry has been anthologized in literary magazines, newspapers and books including 360 Degrees: A Revolution of Black Poets, Listen Up!, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, and Soul. Her words have also been featured in commissioned pieces for several organizations including Aaron Davis Hall, the International Festival for the Arts, The Kitchen, Franklin Furnace and Yale Repertory Theater for choreographer Ralph Lemon.

Tracie holds degrees from Hunter College and New York University. She also holds certificates from the Cave Canem Summer Institute and the Hempispheric Institute of NYU. She teaches at Eastern Michigan University.


Tracie is currently teaching this course:

English 111.302 - Experimental Writing: Cultivating a Poetic Philosophy - Tracie Morris
Tuesdays from 1:30-4:30

Many of us are motivated to write poetry, but do we know where the motivation comes from? How do our poems "come through the page" in the ways that they do? Often we are interested in exploring our ideas through poetry but rarely do we get the opportunity to seriously consider what our poems say about our philosophical ideas, our abstract notions and our secret desires. These motivations not only manifest themselves in the words we choose and the topics we work with but in the nuts and bolts of how we place words on the page.

In this course we will consider ways in which philosophical ideas construct poetic form and content. During the semester we will explore each student's conceptual underpinnings and how these sensibilities can form the basis for unique poetic voices and/or the development of a new voice. The course requirements will include creative *and* analytical writing to get to the heart of what we write, how we write and why we write. We will look at some of the relationships between speech act theory, the popularity of "spoken word" as an outlet for poetic performance, confessional poetry, some experimental poetry movements, and your own perspectives about how poetry intersects with your personal philosophy.


Our 2006-2007 Fellow was Linh Dinh

A native of Vietnam, Mr. Dinh has translated Vietnamese poetry in addition to writing original poems and prose. As founder and editor of The Drunken Boat, a Philadelphia literary journal, he published the work of poets and artists as well as anonymous "found" literature in the form of letters and journals. He is on the Philadelphia Art in City Hall Advisory Committee and is active within the community of Philadelphia's alternative galleries, cooperatives, and non-profit arts organizations. In addition to his writing and visual arts activities, Mr. Dinh acted as was Guest Curator of the exhibit "Toys and Incense" at the Levy Gallery at Moore College of Art and Design in which the role of improvisation and the play in contemporary visual art was explored.

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and three books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish 2003), American Tatts (Chax 2005) and Borderless Bodies (Factory School 2006). His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Poetry 2004 and Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among other places. Linh Dinh is also the editor of the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (Seven Stories Press 1996) and Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish 2001), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (Tupelo 2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. He has been invited to read poems all over the US, and in London, Cambridge and Berlin.

No border separates Linh Dinh's poetry from his painting. In writings which allude to current events, politics, and art history, or in paintings in which fragmentary objects are iconically isolated on spare color fields or familiar masterpieces of Impressionism are mysteriously depopulated and rendered as vacant landscape, Mr. Dinh's overlapping interests are immediately apparent.


Linh Dinh taught this course:

English 111.302 - Poetry & Poetics - Linh Dinh
Wednesdays 2-5 PM

If you have something very urgent to say, you'll find a way to say it. In this poetry writing workshop, weíll examine the real state of our union, at variance with the official one. Informed and provoked by the essays of James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg and Susan Sontag, etc, weíll arrive, hopefully, at a deeper understanding of the many crises confronting America. Looking past the spins and jives, seeing behind whatís behind, weíll deconstruct America. There will be a writing assigment each week, with ensuing class discussions. By the end, each student will have a body of poems that reflects his or her state of the union. Permission of the instructor is required. Send a brief email stating why you wish to attend the workshop (writing samples not required) to linhdinh at yahoo.com.


Our 2005-2006 Fellow was Erica Hunt

Erica Hunt works at the forefront of experimental poetry and poetics, critical race theory, and feminist aesthetics. She has written three books of poetry: Arcade, with artist Alison Saar, Piece Logic, and Local History (Roof Books, 1993). Her published and forthcoming essays include "Notes for an Oppositional Poetics" (The Politics of Poetic Form,, ed. Charles Bernstein), "Parabolay" (Boundary 2), and "Roots of the Black Avant Garde" (Tripwire, forthcoming). Hunt's poems can be found in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (ed. Mary Margaret Sloan), Iowa Poetry Review, and the Virago Anthology of Women's Love Poetry. Hunt has also worked as a housing organizer, radio producer, poetry teacher, and program officer for a social justice campaign. She is currently president of The Twenty-First Century Foundation which supports organizations addressing root causes of social injustice impacting the Black community.


Our 2004-2005 Fellow was Kenneth Goldsmith