September 2021

Wednesday, 9/1

Printing & Postcards

5:00 PM at the Kelly Writers House

Co-sponsored by: the Brodsky Gallery and Common Press
REGISTER HERE to attend in person

Want to learn about letterpress printing? Join Mary Tasillo and members of Common Press for a hands-on event. Pull a print from our mobile press, snag a letterpress printed postcard for mailing to a friend, and view a retrospective of Common Press prints made by Penn students and other artists. Not sure what letterpress printing is? Come by and find out how we set blocks of old type to create new art, and find out how to get involved. We'll provide all supplies -- including postcard stamps!

Thursday, 9/2

No Good, Very Bad Poetry Night for Sophomores

6:00 PM in the Class of 1942 Garden

REGISTER HERE to attend in person

This lighthearted event is an opportunity for second year students to gather together in teams to write the worst poetry, flash fiction, and novelistic opening sentences they can. Come with friends, or meet people at the Writers House. The winners will receive the Golden Beret trophy

Friday, 9/3


1:00 PM - 4:00 PM in the Class of 1942 Garden

Want to get involved with projects at Kelly Writers House? The Kelly Writers House Activities Fair is an opportunity for new and returning students to learn about student-led Writers House activities and initiatives, including magazines, podcasts, writing groups, community outreach, zine making, film production, and more. Stop by to chat with student leaders and representatives of Bent Button, DoubleSpeak, Equilibria, Excelano, The F-Word, The Moviegoer, Penn Appetit, Penn Review, Punch Bowl, Q-ine, Quake, Wharton IBR, Write On!, the Zine Library, and other magazines and groups. All are welcome! Questions? Contact Writers House director Jessica at

Saturday, 9/4

Sunday, 9/5

Monday, 9/6

Tuesday, 9/7

Wednesday, 9/8


7:30 PM in the 1942 Garden and on YouTube

REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

Our student-run open mic night welcomes all kinds of readings, performances, spectacles, and happenings. For this special edition of Speakeasy, please bring out your pandemic-inspired creativity! What have you worked on during the pandemic?

Thursday, 9/9

A celebration of Rachel Zolf's new book No One's Witness: A Monstrous Poetics

With Rachel Zolf reading and in conversation with Airea D. Matthews

With special guest Sofia Sears

6:00 PM on YouTube and at the Kelly Writers House

Sponsored by: the Creative Writing Program
REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

The Creative Writing Program presents a celebration of Artist in Residence Rachel Zolf's new book, No One's Witness: A Monstrous Poetics (Duke, 2021). In No One's Witness, Zolf activates the last three lines of a poem by Jewish Nazi holocaust survivor Paul Celan—"No one / bears witness for the / witness"—to theorize the poetics and im/possibility of witnessing. Drawing on black studies, continental philosophy, queer theory, experimental poetics, and work by several writers and artists, Zolf asks what it means to witness from the excessive, incalculable position of No One. In a fragmentary and recursive style that enacts the monstrous speech it pursues, No One's Witness demonstrates the necessity of confronting the Nazi holocaust in relation to transatlantic slavery and its afterlives. Thinking along with black feminist theory's notions of entangled swarm, field, plenum, chorus, No One's Witness interrogates the limits and thresholds of witnessing.

Judith Butler says No One's Witness "shows in brilliant and moving ways how language must change to come close to registering the living aftermath of destruction," and John Keene has described the book as "a critical-theoretical intervention and a lyric prose artifact that will appeal not only to theorists and critics, but also to poets, professors, and students."

Rachel Zolf has published five books of poetry and six chapbooks, with a Selected Poetry appearing in 2019. Zolf's poetry and essays have been widely published in journals and anthologies worldwide and translated into French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Awards include a 2018 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a 2008 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. Art videos Zolf has written and/or directed have screened at venues such as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, White Cube Bermondsey, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. They hold an MFA from The New School and a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought from the European Graduate School. Zolf spent many years organizing writing projects with trans youth, incarcerated people, and other communities, and now serves as Artist in Residence in the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing.

Airea D. Matthews' first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. The collection explores the topics of longing and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. Matthews received a 2020 Pew Fellowship and a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and was awarded the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Matthews earned her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College, where she directs the poetry program.

Sofia Sears is a junior at Penn from Los Angeles majoring in creative writing and gender studies. They’ve published poetry, creative nonfiction, and dramatic work in numerous publications & run a queer horror podcast on the side.

Friday, 9/10

Saturday, 9/11

Sunday, 9/12

Monday, 9/13

A meeting of the Writers House Planning Committee

5:00 PM in the Arts Cafe

REGISTER HERE to attend in person

From the time of its founding in 1995-1996, the Kelly Writers House has been run more or less collectively by members of its community. Our original team of intrepid founders— the group of students, faculty, alumni, and staff who wanted to create an independent haven for writers and supporters of contemporary writing in any genre—took for themselves the name "the hub." "Hub" was the generic term given by Penn's Provost, President, and other planners who hoped that something very innovative would be done at 3805 Locust Walk to prove the viability of the idea that students, working with others, could create an extracurricular learning community around common intellectual and creative passions. To this day, the Writers House Planning Committee refers to itself as "the hub"—the core of engaged faculty, student, staff, and alumni volunteers from whom the House's creative energy and vitality radiates.

Tuesday, 9/14

A celebration of Ravenous by Sam Apple

6:00 PM (ET) in the KWH Garden and on YouTube

Sponsored by: the Wexler Fund for Jewish Life and Culture
REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

In Ravenous, Sam Apple reclaims Otto Warburg as a forgotten, morally compromised genius who pursued cancer single-mindedly even as Europe disintegrated around him. While the vast majority of Jewish scientists fled Germany in the anxious years leading up to World War II, Warburg remained in Berlin, working under the watchful eye of the dictatorship. With the Nazis goose-stepping their way across Europe, systematically rounding up and murdering millions of Jews, Warburg awoke each morning in an elegant, antiques-filled home and rode horses with his partner, Jacob Heiss, before delving into his research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Society.

Hitler and other Nazi leaders, Apple shows, were deeply troubled by skyrocketing cancer rates across the Western world, viewing cancer as an existential threat akin to Judaism or homosexuality. Ironically, they viewed Warburg as Germany's best chance of survival. Setting Warburg's work against an absorbing history of cancer science, Apple follows him as he arrives at his central belief that cancer is a problem of metabolism. Though Warburg's metabolic approach to cancer was considered groundbreaking, his work was soon eclipsed in the early postwar era, after the discovery of the structure of DNA set off a search for the genetic origins of cancer.

Remarkably, Warburg's theory has undergone a resurgence in our own time, as scientists have begun to investigate the dangers of sugar and the link between obesity and cancer, finding that the way we eat can influence how cancer cells take up nutrients and grow. Rooting his revelations in extensive archival research as well as dozens of interviews with today's leading cancer authorities, Apple demonstrates how Warburg's mid-century work may well hold the secret to why cancer became so common in the modern world and how we can reverse the trend. A tale of scientific discovery, personal peril, and the race to end a disastrous disease, Ravenous would be the stuff of the most inventive fiction were it not, in fact, true.

Sam Apple teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and is on the faculty of the MA in Science Writing and MA in Writing programs at Johns Hopkins. Apple has published shorts stories, personal essays, satires, and journalistic features on a wide range of topics. In recent years, he has primarily written about science and health. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Wired, McSweeney's, and, among many other publications. Apple's first book, Schlepping Through the Alps, was a finalist for the PEN America Award for a first work of nonfiction. His most recent book is Ravenous.

Wednesday, 9/15

Thursday, 9/16

Friday, 9/17

Saturday, 9/18

Sunday, 9/19

Monday, 9/20

Tuesday, 9/21

Securing Food Insecurity, Tonii Hicks of People's Kitchen

6:00 PM (ET) in the KWH Garden and on YouTube

REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

Every weekday, a rotating team of chefs and volunteers at The People's Kitchen in South Philadelphia cook two hundred nourishing meals for distribution around the city, often utilizing special ingredients harvested from their own neighborhood gardens, many of which were established on vacant or underutilized land. For Penn Climate Week, Tonii Hicks, director of food and creative events at The People's Kitchen, will be in conversation with KWH assistant to the faculty director and sustainability coordinator Lily Applebaum for a discussion of the necessary and wide-ranging work that Tonii and the Philadelphia's People's Kitchen team do around food insecurity, gardening, mutual aid, solidarity with other groups around the city, and more, with opportunity for audience Q&A.

Tonii Hicks is an impactful chef in the Greater Philadelphia area who focuses on mentoring young upcoming chefs, food science & product development, and treating food insecurity in food deserts. With her Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Science from Drexel University, Tonii has studied how to manipulate food from a rudimentary state to a delectable entrée. While working in the finest restaurants in the city, Tonii learned swiftly the importance of kitchen operations and how to thoroughly communicate about food ingredients. Tonii's true passion lies in acknowledging, educating and doing what it takes to end food insecurity in Philadelphia: "As a product of living in a food desert, I have found that others like me should have access to healthy and good food no matter their economic status." Presently, Tonii is the Director of Food & Creative Events at People's Kitchen, an organization dedicated to "serving the underserved" with nourishing and inviting food in the city of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, 9/22

Art/Activism: Climate Conversations

Erik Ruin and Anuj Shrestha

5:00 PM in the KWH Garden and on YouTube

Hosted by: the KWH Zine Library
REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

For Penn's Climate Week, the Kelly Writers House Zine Library has invited Erik Ruin and Anuj Shrestha to talk about the intersections of art and activism and ways art can allow us to address climate change and other social and systemic issues. The conversation, hosted by Zine Library curators Quinn Gruber (C'22) and Victoria Garcia (C'23), will take place on September 22nd at 5 pm in the Writers House garden.

Erik Ruin is a Michigan-raised, Philadelphia-based printmaker, shadow puppeteer, paper-cut artist, etc., who has been lauded by the New York Times for his "spell-binding cut-paper animations." His work oscillates between the poles of apocalyptic anxieties and utopian yearnings, with an emphasis on empathy, transcendence and obsessive detail. He frequently works collaboratively with musicians, theater performers, other artists and activist campaigns. He is a founding member of the international Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, and co-author of the book Paths Toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (w/ Cindy Milstein, PM Press, 2012). Current projects include the Ominous Cloud Ensemble, an ever-evolving, collectively-improvising large ensemble for projections and music which at times has included/includes members of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Bardo Pond and Espers. Visit for more.

Anuj Shrestha is a cartoonist and illustrator who resides in Philadelphia, PA. His comics have been listed in several editions of The Best American Comics anthology. His illustration work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Wired and Playboy, among others. He is fond of Italian horror cinema and chihuahuas.

Thursday, 9/23

We All Feel Like It

6:00 PM (ET) in the Arts Café and on YouTube

hosted by: Michelle Taransky
REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

Twelve years after Michelle Taransky's Whenever We Feel Like It series hosted its first "We All Feel Like It" reading in the Kelly Writers House Arts Café, the fourth "We all Feel Like It" reading will feature poets from the KWH community who have been meeting weekly via Zoom as "The Poetry Club" to read, write and discuss poetry.

Friday, 9/24

Saturday, 9/25

Sunday, 9/26

Monday, 9/27

Tuesday, 9/28

Zine Workshop

led by Dre Grigoropol

6:00 PM in the KWH Garden

register here:
co-sponsored by: the KWH Zine Library and The Soapbox

Learn all about zines, independent DIY publications, at this hands-on workshop with The Soapbox, a West Philadelphia-based community print shop and zine library. Soapbox artist Dre Gregoropol will lead participants through zines as a medium, including hands-on activities and zines made from a single sheet of paper. This workshop is limited to 15 people. To register, email

Soapbox member Andrea “Dre” Grigoropol is an artist, illustrator, cartoonist, and multimedia artist. She graduated from Moore College of Art and Design with a BFA in Fine Arts and a minor in Illustration.

Wednesday, 9/29

Thursday, 9/30

Africana Dantes 2021

Creative Responses to the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

6:00 PM (ET) in the Class of 1942 Garden and on YouTube

hosted by: Herman Beavers (Professor of English & African Studies, Director of Civic House), with general introduction by David Wallace (Center for Italian Studies)
REGISTER HERE to attend in person
watch: here

Since 1865, and long before, the Divine Comedy of Dante (1265-1321) has inspired and challenged African American writers; Frederick Douglass kept a portrait of the poet in his library. Now in 2021, 700 years after Dante's death, four poets — from a variety of backgrounds and poetic traditions — gather for fresh engagements: Nathalie Anderson, Nzadi Keita, Benjamin Krusling, and Tracie Morris.

This event is co-sponsored by The Center for Africana Studies, The Creative Writing Program, Comparative Literature, the Department of English, and Italian Studies.

Nathalie Anderson is a poet, librettist, and educator based in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her books of poetry include Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, Quiver, Stain, and the chapbook Held and Firmly Bound. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Atlanta Review, DoubleTake, Natural Bridge, The New Yorker, Nimrod, and Plume; and she has authored libretti for five operas in collaboration with Philadelphia composer Thomas Whitman. She also manages the list-serv Lit-Philly. A 1993 Pew Fellow, she has recently retired from Swarthmore College, where she taught as a professor in the Department of English Literature for 39 years, and directed the Program in Creative Writing.

M. Nzadi Keita is a poet, essayist, and scholar. Her collection, Brief Evidence of Heaven, sheds light on Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass's first wife. Publications including Poet Lore journal and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South have featured her work. Keita is a Cave Canem alumna and a Pew Fellow in Poetry. She also co-coordinates an African-American/Africana Studies Program at Ursinus College, where she is a Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Benjamin Krusling is a writer and artist who works in sound and language. The author of a book of poems, Glaring (Wendy's Subway, 2020), a chapbook, GRAPES (Projective Industries, 2018), and a digital chapbook, "I have too much to hide," (Triple Canopy, 2021), he received his MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, is a PhD candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and lives in Brooklyn.

Tracie Morris is writer/editor of 10 books. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from CUNY Hunter College and a PhD in Performance Studies from NYU. Her poetry, scholarly and performance work has been extensively anthologized, performed and recorded around the world. Tracie is an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist, a former CPCW Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania and a former Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Fellow at Harvard University. Tracie serves as the first African-American Professor of Poetry at The Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2021, she became an awardee of the Guggenheim Fellowship.