April 2021

Thursday, 4/1

Nona Hendryx: a conversation

Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium

6:00 PM on Zoom

Hosted by Anthony DeCurtis
Register by clicking here

In the spirit of two fisted political singer songwriters such as Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell, Nona Hendryx tackles social issues, love and politics with a smoky vocal tessitura somewhere between funk and the end of the stratosphere. Hendryx’s legendary career spans six decades of sound and style evolution. Fans know her as a founding member of the girl group, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles (with Sarah Dash, Cindy Birdsong and Patti LaBelle) known as “the Sweethearts of the Apollo Theatre” and inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999. In the 70s, the group morphed into the Rock & Funk Glam Diva's Labelle with the #1 record, Lady Marmalade. Hendryx emerged as the chief songwriter of the group’s socially conscious and illuminating message songs. If Labelle fans grieved the end of Labelle, Hendryx fans welcomed a new one as the revolutionary art-rock, new-wave goddess embarked upon her own impressive solo career, which spanned eight studio albums and engaged her with an impressive lineup of collaborators (Prince, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Bono and Cameo), resulting in top ten hits and a Grammy nomination.

Fast forwarding into the 20th and 21st century, Nona Hendryx remains the Queen of Transformation: writing music for theatre, a play with music (BLUE written and directed by Charles R. Wright and starring Phylicia Rashad for Arena Stage and the Roundabout theatre in NY), composing music for film (the Lee Daniels 2010 Oscar-nominated Precious), producing and collaborating in the works of a new generation of artists, cowriting songs, and appearing on the Terri Lyne Carrington Grammy Award-winning Mosaic Project Hendryx is an activist and vocal supporter for women’s rights, social, political and criminal justice. She has helped to raise funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS from the outbreak of the epidemic and is still involved today. Dreaming of being an educator Nona worked with education organizations supporting women in prison, a school in Chicago, Little Black Pearl, taught stage craft at The Clive Davis Recording Academy and founded in 2016 her own non-profit, SisterSMATR.org to bridge the gap in science, math, art, technology and robotics for young women of color ages 14 to 18.

Hendryx added Ambassador for Artistry in Music at Berklee College of Music in Boston to her career. Working across three departments; Music Ensemble, Music Theater and Berklee’s Electronic Production and Design Department with the guidance of the EPD Chair Michael Bierylo and co-Chair Michele Darling.

Hendryx presented multimedia performances at MoogFest and MASS MOCA collaborating with Visual Artist, Nick Cave (Until and The Let Go). She created and directed ‘The State Of Grace’ a celebration of the artist Grace Jones, performed in the cavern like Drill Hall in The Park Avenue Armory for Theaster Gates’ Black Artist Retreat. Having made yet another transformation into a multimedia CyberDiva, Hendryx writes music across genres with politically and socially relevant lyrics wrapped in neo-funk grooves, other worldly sound designed music, soulful vocals and art-rock charged rhythms. Performing in and writing a song ‘Grace’ (Trust and Believe) for Carrie Mae Weems' Grace Notes marked the beginning of another artistic collaboration.

Not slowing down, in 2019 Nona create a new interdisciplinary work inspired by Carrie Mae Weems ‘Kitchen Table and Ulysses Dove’s “Urban Folk Dance” titled, “Refrigerated Dreams,” and becoming the 2020 Artistic Director for Harlem Stage curating a series of events exploring Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction simultaneously presenting panels and performances as Visiting Scholar for Berklee’s Africana Studies department. Seeking the challenge of another form of communication Nona created a SiriusXM Radio show “The Nexus with Nona Hendryx” discussing Music, Art and Technology with famous guests, Nona’s three passions.

Friday, 4/2

Saturday, 4/3

Sunday, 4/4

Monday, 4/5

A meeting of the Writers House Planning Committee

5:00 PM on Zoom

register: here

Join us for a meeting of the Writers House Planning Committee (also known as "the Hub") — the core group of engaged students, staff, faculty, and volunteers who help make things happen at Writers House. Anyone is welcome to become a Hub member by participating in Hub activities and helping out. Members of the Hub plan programs, share ideas, and discuss upcoming projects.

Tuesday, 4/6

Wednesday, 4/7

SPEAKEASY OPEN MIC NIGHT

7:30 PM (ET) on Zoom and YouTube

register: here

Our student-run open mic night welcomes all kinds of readings, performances, spectacles, and happenings. You'll have three minutes on Zoom to read, sing, or perform (poetry, prose, music, stand-up: it's up to you!). Registration for the event will open soon!

Thursday, 4/8

Brave Testimony: Airea D. Matthews

Sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies

6:00 PM on Zoom

Register by clicking here

The Brave Testimony series celebrates the poetry of Africa and the African diaspora. Brave Testimony readers have include Chris Abani, Herman Beavers, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Brenda Marie Osbey, and others.

Airea D. Matthews is the author of Simulacra, winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets. The New Yorker critic, Dan Chiasson, describes Matthews's experimental forms in Simulacra as "Fugues, text messages to the dead, imagined outtakes from Wittgenstein, tart mini-operas, fairy tales: Matthews is virtuosic, frantic, and darkly, very darkly, funny.” Matthews holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as graduate degrees from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, both at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Callaloo, Best American Poets, Harvard Review, American Poet, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She was awarded a 2016 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Foundation Award, the 2016 Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2015 Kresge Literary Arts award as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo and The James Merrill House. Matthews's current projects include a second book, which seeks to visually deconstruct the accepted narratives around sacrifice zones, identity, and class. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College.

Friday, 4/9

Saturday, 4/10

Sunday, 4/11

Monday, 4/12

Tuesday, 4/13

The next American poetry: Levi Bentley, Susan Briante, Simone White, and Timothy Yu

Beltran Family Program

6:00 PM (ET) on YouTube

The conceptual movement in American poetry — dated from the New Coast Conference of March 1990 — is now thirty years old. We have also come to a hinge moment in American and global history, which we can call post-Trump. With these two moments in mind, 2020–2021 Beltran Family Award winner Ron Silliman has gathered a group of poets — Levi Bentley, Susan Briante, Simone White, and Timothy Yu — to address the question: what’s next in American poetry?

Levi Bentley is a 2019 LAMBDA Literary Fellow. They live in Philadelphia where they design and co-edit Asterion Projects with Ted Rees. They have released chapbooks through Lamehouse, Damask, and Well Greased Press. Their poems have appeared in Apiary, Bedfellows, BlazeVOX, Emerge: 2019 Lambda Anthology, We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, and other venues.

Susan Briante is the author of four books of poetry and, most recently, Defacing the Monument (Noemi Press, 2020). She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arizona and co-coordinates the writing program Field Studies Southwest, which brings MFA students to the U.S.-Mexico border to work with community-based environmental and social justice groups. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

SIMONE WHITE is a poet, literary critic, and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. White specializes in contemporary poetry and poetics, experimental writing, American literature and African-American cultural studies, and critical theory. Her books include Dear Angel of Death, Of Being Dispersed, and House of Envy of All the World, and the chapbooks Unrest and Dolly (with Kim Thomas). Or, On Being the Other Woman will be published by Duke University Press in fall 2021.

Timothy Yu is Martha Meier Renk-Bascom Professor of Poetry and professor of English and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the poetry collection 100 Chinese Silences (Les Figues Press), the Editor’s Selection in the 2014 NOS Book Contest. He is also the author of Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry since 1965 (Stanford University Press), which won the Book Award in Literary Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies, and of the forthcoming Diasporic Poetics: Asian Writing in the United States, Canada, and Australia (Oxford University Press). He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Twenty-First Century American Poetry and Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets (Kelsey Street Press), and he also serves as executive editor of the journal Contemporary Literature.

Wednesday, 4/14

Thursday, 4/15

Marathon reading of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

3:00 PM (until it’s done) on Zoom and YouTube

Each year, the Writers House Planning Committee selects a book to read aloud, straight through from beginning to end. This year we're reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – and anyone can sign up for a ten-minute reading slot. We encourage readers to use your Zoom backgrounds to get creative and immerse yourself in Wonderland. Some options created by our staffers can be found and downloaded here. We’ll be having a raffle filled with cool gifts available for entry to all readers. If you’re on campus or in Philadelphia, we will be giving out grab bags full of otherworldly reader treats. We will also have t-shirts available to order, featuring a design by our amazing staffer Alyson del Pino. Email wh@writing.upenn.edu for more information.

Friday, 4/16

Saturday, 4/17

Sunday, 4/18

Monday, 4/19

Hanif Abdurraqib: reading and conversation

Caroline Rothstein Oral Poetry Program

6:00 PM (ET) on YouTube

introduced by: Erin O’Malley
co-sponsored by: the Excelano Project

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His latest book is A Little Devil In America, releasing in March 2021.


Tuesday, 4/20

Writing About Politics in the Biden Era

A conversation with Dana Milbank

12:00 PM on YouTube

sponsored by: the Povich Fund for Journalism Programs
hosted by: Dick Polman
watch: here

So much has changed since Donald Trump came and went — especially in political journalism. Young journalists, in particular, want coverage to be far more sensitized to issues of racism, sexism, and threats of authoritarianism. Older traditionalists worry about compromising "objectivity." Dana and Dick will talk about this, with audience questions. And Dana will talk about what it's like to be a columnist in Joe Biden's Washington.

DANA MILBANK is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist at the Washington Post. He also provides political commentary for various TV outlets, and he is the author of three books on politics, including the national bestseller Homo Politicus. Milbank joined the Post in 2000 as a Style political writer, then covered the presidency of George W. Bush as a White House correspondent before starting the column in 2005. Before joining the Post, Milbank spent two years as a senior editor at the New Republic, where he covered the Clinton White House, and eight years as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, where he covered Congress and was a London-based correspondent.

Wednesday, 4/21

Dance and the Poetics of Fatigue

Ajani Brannum, Be Echo Heintzman Hope, and Ogemdi Ude

7:00 PM on YouTube

Curated by Dixon Li

Dance and the Poetics of Fatigue is a new series that investigates how fatigue — physical, psychic, and spiritual — affects some of the most compelling aspects of dance. Drawing on poetics as the urge to give language to what feels most elusive and poetics as a method of engaging an idea, this series convenes conversation between dance practitioners whose work responds to various types of contemporary fatigue. We will pay particularly close attention to the kinds of worlds — restrictive and liberating — that condition embodiment and the embodied conditions of worldmaking for people of QTBIPOC experiences. Dance and the Poetics of Fatigue is curated and organized by Dixon Li.

Moving between sound and performance, Be Heintzman Hope is a facilitator of music, dance and embodiment ritual currently based in Tio’tia:ke, most commonly known as Montreal. In 2013, they established Wxmb Cxre, xz a somatic breath, voice and movement practice that centers on the child inside and giving birth to oneself through preverbal gesture. They are co-founder of the Queer Body Workers Network Tio'tia:ke/MTL and have facilitated workshops for organizations such as Sherpa Centre de Recherche, Studio 303, SBC Gallery, Articule, Cinema Politica, and The Center for Gender Advocacy. They are a 3 year artist-in residence at the MAI Theater and have participated in Impulstanz's danceWEB scholarship program. Their choreographic and facilitative work has appeared in music videos, queer post-pornography and science fiction film. Former member of the collaborative duo Psych-Ich Lie, that strung together experimental electronic music, confrontational dance performance, and wrestling tactics - they are currently in the process of developing a solo music project, focusing on a sound that can speak to those in their parents generation as well as their peers.

Ajani Brannum is learning how to do whatever needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Their creative practice spans movement, writing, music/sound, research, and teaching. One of their most recent projects, BAROT, is an experiment in combining tarot, performance criticism, and cultural somatics. Ajani currently holds lectureships at CalArts and CSU San Marcos, and is a PhD Candidate in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures / Dance.

Ogemdi Ude is a Nigerian-American dance artist, educator, and doula based in Brooklyn, New York. Her performance work focuses on Black femme legacies and futures, grief, and memory. She aims to incite critical engagement with embodied Black history as a means to imagine Black futurity. Her work has been presented at Recess Art, Abrons Arts Center, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Danspace Project, Gibney, Center for Performance Research, Movement Research at the Judson Church, Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, Lewis Center for the Arts, La Mama Courthouse, and for BAM's DanceAfrica festival. She currently serves as Head of Movement for Drama at Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan. She is a 2021 Laundromat Project Create Change Artist-in-Residence, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Creative Engagement Grantee, a member of Gibney’s 2020 Moving Toward Justice Cohort, and a 2019-2020 Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU Resident Fellow. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in English, Dance, and Theater from Princeton University.

Thursday, 4/22

Maria Kuznetsova and the Cheburashka Collective

Featuring Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Ruth Madievsky, Luisa Muradyan, Gala Mukomolova, Alina Pleskova, and Karina Vahitova

8:00 PM on Zoom

co-sponsored by: the Wexler Family Fund for Programs in Jewish Life and Culture, the Comparative Literature & Literary Theory Program, the Jewish Studies Program, and Russian and East European Studies
Hosted by: Dr. Julia Alekseyeva, Assistant Professor at Penn and author-illustrator of Soviet Daughter
register: here

Maria Kuznetsova will read from her new novel, Something Unbelievable (Penguin Random House, April 2021). In this sharp, heartfelt novel, an overwhelmed new mom asks to hear her grandmother’s story of her family’s desperate escape from the Nazis, discovering unexpected parallels to her own life in America. Additional readings by members of the Cheburashka Collective and an interactive discussion will follow.

Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine and moved to the United States as a child. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her debut novel, Oksana, Behave! was published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House in 2019 and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick as well as a best spring read according to Oprah Magazine, InStyle, Pop Sugar, and The Wall Street Journal. Her fiction and non-fiction appears or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Southern Review, Guernica, The Threepenny Review, Crazyhorse, Slate Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Auburn, Alabama with her husband and daughter, where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Auburn University. Her second novel, Something Unbelievable, will be published by Random House in April of 2021. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature. Follow Maria at @mashawrites.

The Cheburashka Collective is a growing community of women and non-binary writers whose work has been shaped by immigration from the former Soviet Union to the United States.

Friday, 4/23

Saturday, 4/24

Sunday, 4/25

Monday, 4/26

A Reading by Gabrielle Hamilton

Kelly Writers House Fellows Program

6:30PM (ET) on YouTube

NOTE: An RSVP is not required to attend this virtual event, however if you’d like to receive a reminder and a direct link e-mailed to you on the day of the program, please write to Fellows Program Coordinator Lily Applebaum at whfellow@writing.upenn.edu

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef and owner of the acclaimed Prune restaurant in New York City’s East Village, and the author of Prune, the cookbook. Hamilton has won four James Beard awards over her career, perhaps most notably for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011). Her other James Beard awards were for Best Chef in New York City in 2011, an award for journalism in 2015 for her essay “Into the Vines” for Afar magazine, and Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine. She is an Eat columnist in The New York Times Magazine contributing regularly, and most recently wrote the widely praised essay “My Restaurant Was My Life For 20 Years. Does The World Need It Anymore?” for the April 26, 2020 issue, just a month or so into the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic, about closing her restaurant and the state of the industry generally. Her writing has also been collected several times in the annually published Best Food Writing, and was a featured subject of season 4 of the PBS docuseries Mind of a Chef in 2015. Hamilton received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and a BA from Hampshire College. She lives in New York City.


Tuesday, 4/27

A Conversation with Gabrielle Hamilton

Kelly Writers House Fellows Program

11:00AM (ET) on YouTube

NOTE: An RSVP is not required to attend this virtual event, however if you’d like to receive a reminder and a direct link e-mailed to you on the day of the program, please write to Fellows Program Coordinator Lily Applebaum at whfellow@writing.upenn.edu

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef and owner of the acclaimed Prune restaurant in New York City’s East Village, and the author of Prune, the cookbook. Hamilton has won four James Beard awards over her career, perhaps most notably for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011). Her other James Beard awards were for Best Chef in New York City in 2011, an award for journalism in 2015 for her essay “Into the Vines” for Afar magazine, and Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine. She is an Eat columnist in The New York Times Magazine contributing regularly, and most recently wrote the widely praised essay “My Restaurant Was My Life For 20 Years. Does The World Need It Anymore?” for the April 26, 2020 issue, just a month or so into the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic, about closing her restaurant and the state of the industry generally. Her writing has also been collected several times in the annually published Best Food Writing, and was a featured subject of season 4 of the PBS docuseries Mind of a Chef in 2015. Hamilton received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and a BA from Hampshire College. She lives in New York City.


Wednesday, 4/28

Virtual Honors Thesis Reading

Creative Writing Program

5:00 PM on YouTube

watch: here
program: PDF

A small group of graduating seniors have been working hard to complete their Creative Writing thesis projects – long-form creative literary works in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, and mixed genres that serve as the capstones to their time at Penn as writers. Join us on YouTube for a celebration of their hard work – including a livestreamed reading by some of the writers.

Thursday, 4/29

Friday, 4/30