Kerry's Remarks about the Writers House

When I started the job here at Writers House, in July of this year, I was just coming out of a semester devoted to graduate work. I had taken my Ph.D. exams, and had finished teaching a survey course in British Literature, Restoration to Victorian. I was thinking a lot about the long poem, thinking about lyric poetry and representations of women in that tradition.

I had no idea what was about to happen.

Within days of starting my job, I was amazed by what the House makes possible, what the House makes possible to learn. Personally, I've learned, among other things, to use a power drill and speak into a microphone and mix music using a Mackie board and do a furniture plan on the scale of 1/4 " to 1.'

And what continues to amaze me is what I see other people discovering through the House--and I hope they don't mind if I say what I saw--I don't want to appropriate anyone's experiences nor speak for them--these are simply the views from here, from where I've been:

Kristen Gallagher who sways irrepressibly when she listens to poetry rocking through three episodes of Love at the WH, each one so much a product of her creativity, each on a gem-and Holly Johnson giving the time's up gesture which she'd learned from Joe Taylor of WXN-she was beautiful in her gentle authority--

Henrietta Jones of the House kitchen beaming after she orchestrated a graceful dinner before Nate Mackey's reading-everything was perfect, from the garlic bread to the coffee--

Nate Chinen, and Chip Blaustein taking a break from their labors to sing for Kalyani Fernando what I think was doo-wop--they were down in the kitchen--I was upstairs emailing wildly--and I had to stop and close my eyes and just listen--

Nate Chinen, the same, saying to me more times than I can count--as he did just tonight--"I'll do whatever-if you need to me to, you know, I'll do it--"

Josh Schuster doing a wickedly accurate imitation of William S. Burroughs in our production of Kevin Killian's play for poets-and Dodie Bellamy, one of our writer guests, saying to me afterwards, "I knew he had some Burroughs in him"--

Gene Kwack, the student coordinator of Talking Film, efficiently leading guest filmmaker Alex Sichel around campus-he was so efficient she asked me afterwards, "Do you think he'd want to quit school and become my Assistant Director?"--

Harris Steinberg, at a hub meeting at a House that was still very much under construction, discussing the renovation with the students and staff who had assembled--and Harris, every time he comes to the House, corraling theses same students into helping him move couches "just to see" --it's infectious and we find ourselves making everything more beautiful, because he teaches us to look, to try--

That same hub meeting, when we got so excited about the renovation and Nijmie Dzurinko's Saturday literary project for children and Nate's proposed visit by Julian Pressley and the new issue of Xconnect that we didn't notice it had gotten dark, and cold, and we kept talking about things we could do until we couldn't see each other's faces--

Nate and I looking over the September, October and November calendars and realizing that most of what the hub and staff had imagined for this fall, we all had managed, together to create-poetry readings, phillytalks newsletters, creative writing dinners, radio interviews, new web pages, workshops in poetry, publishing, screenwriting, open mic readings, film screenings, jazz shows, plays for poets, not to mention posters and more posters--

And the gifts--so many gifts--Mike Magee's and Heather Starr's chairs, the tables from Matt Bixler's office, which I got to pick out on a tour of his office which was being redecorated--the fig tree from Joanne Hanna--and recently, gifts of such thoughtfulness for the House--the birch logs Jay Hambleton of Schaefer and Co. knew would be perfect for our fireplace, Harris drawing of the many Houses, and from Jim Hamilton, bottles of homemade wine--

John MacDermott arriving every few days just to see if we needed any help with wires, cables, electrical appliances, tv's, vcr's speakers, laptops, mixers, dat recorders, etc.--and of course we did--

Dave Deifer rapelling in, like Harry Tuttle in the movie Brazil, to fix our ethernet connection in High Rise East which we endured by saying to ourselves--"it will be so much better once we get into the House"--and in fact it is better than I could have imagined--

And just last night, Dave Slarskey hanging the dinner bell in the kitchen. He's a great poet and a great student and an ethical person and as it turns out a great carpenter--and how better to discover all of these things and more about yourself than at Writers House.