November 2023

Wednesday, 11/1


Poetry, prose, anything goes

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

Our student-run open mic night invites you to bring your spookiest, your scariest, your most spine-tingling performances for this just-after-Halloween Speakeasy Open Mic Night. You’ll have three minutes at the mausoleum – we mean the podium – to perform. Bring your petrifying poetry, ghostly guitar, zombie dance troupe, or frightening fiction to share. (You can also plan to read the work of others!).

Thursday, 11/2

Art in the Lab Gallery Opening

Featuring Allison Dell of Art in the Lab

6:00 PM in person

sponsored by: the Brodsky Gallery
rsvp: register here to attend in person

Join us for the opening of the latest Brodsky Gallery show, (Art in the Lab). See work created at Kelly Writers House with help from Alison Dell of Art in the Lab as we explore the relationship between art and science, and how seeing and observing are so intertwined in both the sciences and art. We'll also have microscopes available so attendees can also try their hand at drawing as well.

Allison Dell, Ph.D, is a cell biologist and artist who creates drawings and designs based on living materials and systems. Over the last decade, Dell has worked to promote an expanded definition of STEM that includes creative spaces and research practices that broaden participation and promote community engagement in science. Through BioDesign, BioArt, and biomedical science, Dell pursues research experiences that bridge studio and lan and engage community-based practices.

In 2015 Dell co-founded Art in the Lab – an ongoing series of free public workshops mixing drawing and lab work, which engage social practice, promote access to science, and synergize with a studio practice grounded in drawing and print. Dell’s work in lab, studio, and outreach often manifests in writing including “Soil Narratives: Toward a Symbiotic Art-Science Activism” Public Art Dialogue (2019), and “Shadow Ecologies” in From the Lab to the Streets: Identity, Culture, and the Science Performance (Bloomsbury, 2022). Dell received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she now teaches Biodesign in the Weitzman School of Design.

Friday, 11/3

Saturday, 11/4

Homecoming open house

2:00 - 4:00 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

Renew your acquaintance or get to know this lively and innovative home for writers of all ages and genres as you join members of the Writers House community for informal conversation, coffee, and light refreshments. Advance registration is not required, but we'd love to hear from you.

Arts at Homecoming: Emerging Screenwriters

Hartman Screenwriting Series

Jay Elias (C'14), Benjamin Finkel (C'16, G'17), Isabelle Mecattaf (C'17), Nihaar Sinha (W'14)

4:00 in person

hosted by: Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve (C’88, W’88)
rsvp: register here to attend in person

How does a screenwriter break into the industry? What should storytellers be thinking about right now in an industry that has been turned upside down by tech? Join us for a panel discussion of these and other questions with four emerging Penn alumni screenwriters: Jay Elias (C’ 14), Benjamin Finkel (C'17), Isabelle Mecattaf (C’17), and Nihaar Sinha (W’17).

A transgender man of Syrian descent, Jay Elias (C’14) grew up in the small, rural town of Red Hill, PA. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and began his career at Disney TV Animation before working with Carrie Brownstein on her Hulu pilot, Search + Destroy. From there, he spent three years writing research for the hit true crime comedy podcast My Favorite Murder and worked in development for the hosts’ podcast network, Exactly Right Media. He was staffed on the reboot of Degrassi. with HBO Max and rewrote a (TBA) holiday feature for the Jim Henson Company, alongside his writing partner, L.T. Verrastro. Currently, he and L.T. are developing a kids' show for Disney Channel. In his writing, Jay aims to shine a light on the things that connect us as human beings and bring levity to the heavier parts of life.

Benjamin Finkel (C’17) is a writer and director from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn in 2017 with a degree in English. His debut film Family is currently in post-production.

Isabelle Mecattaf (C’17) is a French-Lebanese Filmmaker based in New York City. She studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MFA in Filmmaking from NYU Tisch school of the Arts. Mecattaf has worked on projects in Beirut, New York, Paris and Los Angeles. Her most recent short film Beity (2021) was officially selected to TIFF, Aspen, and Hollyshorts (where it won an award), among others. It was purchased by The New Yorker and is now streaming on their platform. She is currently developing her first feature film titled May You Outlive Us. The script was selected to the TIFF Filmmaker's lab in 2022, where it won the Every Story People's Fellowship. It was a winner of the BlackList-inspired NYU purple List in 2023, an official selection of the NYU Production Lab Slate in 2023, and a Black Family Feature Prize Finalist in 2023.

Nihaar Sinha (W ’14) is a screenwriter who has sold a TV series to a major studio and developed projects with multiple Oscar and Emmy winning producers. Prior to his writing career, Nihaar ran new investments for Sean 'Diddy' Combs and was a Content Strategy exec / "Algorithm Guy" at Netflix. He began his career at Paradigm Talent Agency and as a media investment banker at Telos Advisors. He has a degree in Economics with a Finance concentration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and was a 2013 RealArts@Penn internship recipient. He was the showrunner of the Kelly Writer House's Classless TV "Office Hours" web series during the 2013–14 school year.

Sunday, 11/5

Monday, 11/6

Tuesday, 11/7

Wednesday, 11/8

Thursday, 11/9

A Reading by Raj Haldar

Author of This Book is Banned

6:00 PM in person

hosted by: Allison Katz
rsvp: register here to attend in person
supported by: the Lucy F. DeMarco Fund for Youth Literature

Raj Haldar's first children's book, P is for Pterodactyl has been nothing short of a phenomenon – spending 26 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List (peaking at #1) since its release in November 2018, with over 500,000 copies sold to date.

But, for close to a decade, Raj has been better known for his critically-praised music under the moniker, Lushlife. In that time he has amassed a fervent global fan base and released award-winning music videos that highlight his erudite lyrics.

As the official DJ to the Philadelphia Eagles, he has been tasked with programming a new, cutting edge musical experience for fans in the stadium at home games for the last five seasons. As a composer, Raj's music a constant fixure on Nick Jr. and has been featured in the Lonely Island film, Pop Star, Netflix / Dreamwork's animated series Kipo and Andrew Niccol's ANON with Clive Owen among many others.

Raj's recent early reader chapter book series Word Travelers is in development for television with Mainframe Studios. His latest children's book entitled, This Book is Banned hit shelves this September 2023, and has been buzzed about as the first kids book to offer a lighthearted entrypoint to understanding the serious issues around book banning and censorship.

Raj lives on the Upper West Side of Manhatten with his wife and two daughters. His work has been featured by The Washington Post, Interview Magazine, NPR, VICE, Pitchfork, Funny or Die, Village Voice, Mental Floss, BBC, SPIN, and many more.

Friday, 11/10

Saturday, 11/11

Sunday, 11/12

Monday, 11/13

KWH Prize-Winner Presentations

6:30 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

Join us for presentations by some of the students who have won prizes (from the Kelly Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing) for projects in a variety of genres, including fiction, screenwriting, linguistic analysis, memoir, and travel writing. Featured presenters include Meg Gladieux (Kerry Prize), Zelda Godsey-Kellogg (Goldstein Prize), Norah Rami (Universe in Verse Prize), Wahid Sarwar (Goldstein Prize), Miriam Shah (Heled Prize), and Daniel Trebejo-Ariza (Creative Ventures Prize).

Tuesday, 11/14

European-Jewish Poets, Past and Present: New Translations

Mireille Gansel, Joan Sidney, and Alex Braslavsky

Wexler Program in Jewish Life and Culture

6:30 PM in person

hosted by: Kevin Platt
rsvp: register here to attend in person

Join us for a multilingual reading (English, French, and Polish) and moderated discussion of new publications of poetry by Mireille Gansel, Joan Sidney, and Alex Braslavsky. Gansel, joined by her translator Sidney, will read from Soul House, her first book of poetry in English translation and her first book in English since the acclaimed Translation as Transhumance. Braslavsky will read from her new translations of Polish-Ukrainian-Jewish modernist Zuzanna Ginczanka. This event brings together two important European-Jewish poets whose biographies have been shaped, in different ways, by Holocaust history and remembrance. The event will be moderated by Penn professor Kevin M. F. Platt.

Alex Braslavsky is a scholar, translator, and poet. A graduate student in the Harvard Slavic Department, she writes scholarship on Russian, Polish, and Czech poetry through a comparative poetics lens. She was an American Literary Translators’ Association Mentee in 2021. Her work on Polish literature has been supported by the Jurzykowski Polish Grant and the ©POLAND Translation Program. Her poetry has appeared in Conjunctions and Colorado Review, among others. Braslavsky is the translator of On Centaurs & Other Poems (World Poetry, 2023), the Polish modernist Zuzanna Ginczanka's first selected poetry volume to be published in English.

Mireille Gansel has won major awards for both her translations of German and Vietnamese poets, and for some of her seven books of poetry. Her lyrical memoir, Translation as Transhumance — published in an English translation by Ros Schwartz — has contributed significantly to the field of translation studies. She received the Veu Lliure 2021 Prize from the Catalan PEN. In 2018, Mireille became the Laureate of the Great Prize of Translation Etienne Dolet-Sorbonne Université. Other awards include the Khoury-Ghata poetry prize, the Gérald de Nerval translation prize, an English PEN Award, and a French Voices Award. Gansel's first book of poetry in English translation, Soul House (translated by Joan Seliger Sidney), will be published by World Poetry in November 2023.

Joan Seliger Sidney’s books of poetry include Body of Diminishing Motion, Bereft and Blessed, and The Way the Past Comes Back. Her translations, poems, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary journals and anthologies, including The Common and Asymptote, and have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She is Writer-in-Residence at University of Connecticut’s Center for Judaic Studies and has received several fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and a Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Yale University. Her translation of Mireille Gansel's Soul House will be published by World Poetry in November 2023.

Zuzanna Ginczanka (1917-1945) was a Polish-Ukrainian-Jewish poet of the interwar period. Born in Kiev, which her parents fled to avoid the Russian Civil War in 1922, Ginczanka began writing seriously as a child in Równe, Poland (now Rivne, Ukraine). She was nationally recognized for her poetry by sixteen years of age. Encouraged by a correspondence with poet Julian Tuwim, she moved to Warsaw in 1935. There she became associated with the Skamander group and the satirical magazine Szpilki, and befriended many writers including Witold Gombrowicz. Her 1936 collection, On Centaurs, was widely lauded upon its release. At the start of World War II, she moved east, living in Równe and Soviet-occupied Lviv. In 1942, after the German takeover of Ukraine, she escaped arrest and fled to Kraków on false papers to join her husband. She was arrested in 1944 and shot by the Gestapo a few days before Kraków was liberated by the Soviets. After the war, her last known poem “Non omnis moriar…” was used in court to testify against her denouncers.

Wednesday, 11/15

Joe Conason in conversation with Dick Polman

Povich Journalism Program

12:00 PM in person

sponsored by: the Povich Journalism Program
rsvp: register here to attend in person

Joe Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo, a political commentary website, and an editor at The Investigative Fund. A widely published columnist and reporter, he is the author of several books, including Big Lies, and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Hunting of the President. Conason's articles have been published in Harper's, The Nation, The New Republic, The Guardian (London) and The New Yorker, among others. A winner of the New York Press Club's Byline Award, he has covered every presidential election since 1980.

Dick Polman teaches political journalism at Penn, where he has been the full-time Writer in Residence since 2006. Previously, he was a national political reporter and columnist, as well as a foreign correspondent, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for nearly three decades. He was also a political columnist at WHYY News for nine years, and currently writes several columns a week at

Sally Van Doren and Michelle Taransky: a poetry reading

6:00 PM in person

hosted by: Al Filreis
rsvp: register here to attend in person

An American poet and artist, Sally Van Doren is the author of four poetry collections, including Sibilance (LSU Press 2023) and Sex at Noon Taxes which received the First Book Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have been featured in Poetry Daily, Poetry London, The Moth, The New Republic, Poetry Ireland Review, Prairie Schooner, NPR, PBS, The Poetry Foundation, American Life in Poetry and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her ongoing poetic memoir, “The Sense Series,” was part of a multi-media installation performance at The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. As a visual artist, she exhibits regularly and her work is held in distinguished private and corporate collections and appears in art publications such as the cover of The Difference is Spreading: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Fifty Poems (UPenn Press 2022) and The Nashville Review. A St. Louis native, Van Doren holds a BA from Princeton in Comparative Literature and an MFA from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has taught poetry at the 92nd Street Y, Washington University and other public and private educational institutions. She works from her studio in West Cornwall, CT.

Michelle Taransky received a BA in English with honors from The University of Chicago and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. The author of Sorry Was In The Woods (2013), and Barn Burned, Then (2009), winner of the Omnidawn Poetry Prize selected by Marjorie Welish, Factory Hollow Press recently published her chapbook Abramowitz-Grossberg (2020). In 2014, she was awarded the Beltran Award for Innovative Teaching and Mentoring at Penn. A member of the Kelly Writers House hub since coming to Penn to work as the Assistant to the Director in 2008, Taransky continues to host the Whenever We Feel Like It reading series and work as a Contributing Editor for Penn's poetics journal, Jacket2.

Thursday, 11/16


12:00 PM (ET) in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

Have you been dreaming of the perfect summer internship? One that might help set you on your career path? RealArts@Penn can help make that dream a reality! RealArts@Penn offers paid summer internships in publishing, TV and film, journalism, public relations, talent management, music, theater, and museums. Internship partner/host organizations have included BOMB Magazine, Get Lifted Productions, Spiegel & Grau, Library of Congress, Pitchfork Media, Morgan Museum and Library, and Artists First. The RealArts project draws upon a vast network of Penn alumni who help enable hands-on and face-to-face interactions between students and the people who make arts and culture their business. Join us for an informal conversation with past RealArts@Penn interns to learn more about the project and the application process. Lunch will be served.


5:30 PM (ET) in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person
hosted by: Anthony DeCurtis

About Low Cut Connie

It's been 12 since Low Cut Connie released their debut album Get Out The Lotion. The self-released, low-budget album, recorded live in a garage from a remote location in Florida, found it's way to renowned music critic Robert Christgau who to everyone's surprise, not only reviewed the album, but gave it an A- rating. Many positive reviews followed from the likes of Rolling Stone, Fresh Air, and even Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus who named the band her favorite artist of the year. The band's follow-up Call Me Sylvia (2012), a so-called attempt to make a "real" album, was also positively received from many critics including AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine. The album's hit song "Boozophilia" was ranked the #31 best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone and was also chosen by Barack Obama as one of the songs on his Spotify summer playlist in 2015. Now, with 6 albums released to date, the band have earned other celebrity fans in Elton John, who notably dedicated a song to the band at one of the Philadelphia shows on his Farewell Tour, and Bruce Springsteen. Along the way the band made their late-night TV debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers in support of their album Dirty Pictures (Part 2) in 2018, and were included in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade list for Call Me Sylvia.

About "Art Dealers"

For years now, Low Cut Connie has built its grassroots coalition of oddballs, underdogs, and fun-loving weirdos with songs that celebrate life on the fringes of polite society. The band’s infamously wild, passionate live shows provide a total release - of stress, of inhibition, of shame - working up a primordial rock n roll sweat for fans to get blissfully soaked in. The new album, and its full-length companion film, sizzle with that same cathartic sweat, reminding us that it’s time to get dirty again, and to feel alive. ART DEALERS sits at the intersection of sleazy and soulful - a collection of risky, romantic, life-affirming anthems, all dedicated to you.

Friday, 11/17

Saturday, 11/18

Sunday, 11/19

Monday, 11/20

Tuesday, 11/21

Wednesday, 11/22

Thursday, 11/23

Friday, 11/24

Saturday, 11/25

Sunday, 11/26

Monday, 11/27

LIVE at the Writers House

a monthly radio show produced in collaboration with WXPN

6:30 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

LIVE at the Writers House is a long-standing collaboration of the people of the Kelly Writers House and of WXPN (88.5 FM). Six times annually between September and April, the Writers House records a one-hour show of poetry, music, and other spoken-word art for broadcast by WXPN. LIVE at the Writers House is edited by Zach Carduner and produced by Alli Katz. The show is made possible through the generous support of BigRoc.

Tuesday, 11/28

Stories of the Unseen: On Writing from Incarceration

A conversation with Fong Lee and Zeke Caligiuri

6:00 PM in person

hosted by: Abbey Mei Otis
co-sponsored by: Civic House, the Creative Writing Program, the Kauders Fund, and the School of Social Policy & Practice
rsvp: register here to attend in person

Join us for a conversation with two of the editors of American Precariat: Parables of Exclusion (Coffee House Press, 2023), a groundbreaking anthology of essays, co-edited by a collective of award-winning incarcerated writers. The collection takes a sharp look at the complexity and fluidity of class and caste systems in the United States, and shares stories of the unseen and the unspoken, situating individual portraits within societal structures of exclusion, scarcity, and criminality. The conversation at the Writers House, hosted by Creative Writing faculty member Abbey Mei Otis, will focus on a variety of issues raised in the anthology, including connections between economic precarity and the criminal legal system, shifting power in the literary world, and the intellectual revival occurring within US prisons.

Wednesday, 11/29

Penn and Pencil Club Reading

6:00 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

A reading of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, written by members of the Penn and Pencil club, a creative writing workshop for Penn staff from a variety of backgrounds and university departments.

Thursday, 11/30

200th Episode of Poemtalk: Evie Shockley

A special live filming

12:00 PM in person

rsvp: register here to attend in person

The PoemTalk podcast features a lively roundtable close reading of poetry. This special 200th episode of PoemTalk, featuring the poetry of Evie Shockley, will be filmed in front of an audience. PoemTalk host and producer Al Filreis will lead a lively discussion with Billy Joe Harris, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Evie Shockley, and Tyrone Willams.

Evie Shockley and Simone White: a poetry reading

Sussman Poetry Program

6:00 PM in person

hosted by: Al Filreis
rsvp: register here to attend in person

Poet & literary scholar Evie Shockley thinks, creates, and writes with her eye on a Black feminist horizon. Her books of poetry include suddenly we, semiautomatic, and the new black. Her work has garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award twice and been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She publishes nationally and internationally, and has been translated into French, Polish, Slovenian, and Spanish. Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and the Stephen Henderson Award, and her joys include participating in poetry communities such as Cave Canem and collaborating with like-minded artists working in various media. Shockley is the Zora Neale Hurston Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University.

Simone White is the author of or, on being the other woman (Duke University Press, 2022), Dear Angel of Death (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018), Of Being Dispersed (Futurepoem, 2016), and House Envy of All the World (Factory School, 2010), the poetry chapbook, Unrest (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), and the collaborative poem/painting chapbook, Dolly (with Kim Thomas) (Q Ave, 2008). Her poetry and prose have been featured in Artforum, e-flux, Harper’s Magazine, BOMB Magazine, Chicago Review, The New York Times Book Review, and Harriet: The Blog. Her honors include a 2021 Creative Capital Award, a 2017 Whiting Award in Poetry, Cave Canem Foundation fellowships, and recognition as a New American Poet for the Poetry Society of America in 2013. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she holds a JD from Harvard Law School, an MFA from the New School, and a PhD in English from CUNY Graduate Center. She is the Stephen M. Gorn Family Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the writing faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. She lives in Brooklyn.