Robery Brylawski (C'73, M'78): "Much of the attraction of the Kelly Writers House groups is the group process, the intermingling of a variety of perspectives, especially of people outside of my usual circle of acquaintances—and that quality is not therein the mostly solitary process of reading or even going to see a play. And over time, and multiple groups, some of the folks have become part of a virtual community as we have engaged together in multiple book groups."

Bruce Finsilver: "I've described Kelly Writers House and these online book classes with many friends who attended other fine institutions and none of them have ever heard of such programs. Penn, and Kelly Writers House, are very, very special."

Karen Rosenberg: "I can't tell you how glad I am to have signed up for this course. It's opened up a world that seems richer than the one I experience on a day-to-day basis. So I've started looking at my own world differently."

Alberto Fernandez (C'74): "[Month-long book groups] get under your skin, so much that you wake up in the middle of the night yawping about wheelbarrows and blackbirds and the pure products of America, and don't want to go back to sleep, despite tomorrow."

Amy Alfano: "It is hard for me to find words to express my gratitude to Penn, to the Writers House, and to my fellow alumni for this wonderful month of learning. I spend my days knee-deep in bullet points, powerpoint, and corporate strategy, so this discussion was a lovely counterpoint and the one thing I looked forward to all month long. I'm a poetry newbie. This was a great opportunity to get my feet wet, read some great poetry, and interact with some very cool Penn people."

Ann Hostetler: "It is so refreshing in our current world, with its shallow and divisive public discourse, to be in the company of those who love to explore subtlety, nuance, and even--yes--the semi-colon. Thank you all for making my inner life so rich these past weeks with your contributions to the collaborative meanings we've been making - and to those who are out there listening."

Joyce R. Cummings (Grad '64): "I want to thank you for getting me reading again. Your program has been such an incentive. The experiences really have meant a lot fo me and have led me to other reading as well. Thanks for everything--and your continuing e-presence."

Tara Harper (Law '93) who joined the group that discussed work by Stephen Crane and Nadine Gordimer: "Thanks for a great introduction to using the Internet as more than a place to shop. I really enjoyed the class and the stories, but even more so the interaction between the participants."

Liz Seeley W'60, a participant in two book groups during the fall of 2001: "This has been a real luxury! I have enjoyed every minute of it. Aside from learning how much I don't know I continue to be amazed by Al's ability to ask just the right question at just the right time. And the originality of everyone always amazes me - everyone reads the same thing and everyone's insights are new and different."

Blayney Colemore ('63), a participant in the first book group for 2000, led by Al Filreis: "This has been a great course for me, thanks to Al and to all of you, and has confirmed in me the conviction that cyberspace is a great place for learning and exchanging. My wife accuses me of preferring cyber relationships to flesh ones, and there are times when I think she's right.... I find it exhausting to open my world to new people, especially those from different realms. I know better in both cases and have learned to compensate so I could live in this extroverted culture as a strong introvert (I'm and INFJ on the Myers Briggs), but now that I'm old and retired I feel less pressure about that than I once did. I also understand cyberspace is more appealing to men than to women. I find it thrilling to be able to exchange in such a challenging forum as this. I think it would take me the full semester or more to risk the kind of feelings and opinions I've felt free to throw out in this course in a face to face setting.... You are an insightful and frisky bunch. I look forward to exchanging with you in another course. I haven't set foot on the Penn campus since 1963, but who knows? I believe it's no coincidence that the novel I've been struggling with has taken flight since this course began. I'm filled with new hope and grateful to all of you."

Tracy Layney (C '95), who had studied one of the stories discussed in book group #1 in a class at Penn eight years earlier: "As much as I loved my Penn experience and as sentimental as I am, I have tried very hard to minimize the longing for times gone by. Of course, I miss those heated intellectual debates, not because I want to go back and do it again but because I now have a new found appreciation for what those debates taught me about *how* to think -- what you taught me. I use those crticial thinking skills every day. What I do miss is the opportunity to flex these skills on fun stuff, like literature. That's why I am enjoying this book club so much. I am also surprised that these things, these subjects that have been out of the realm of my everyday experience for the past several years have come back so quickly and so vividly. It makes me want to re-read everything on the syllabus [of my old seminars], partially out of nostalgia and partially out of the realization that I really did -- do -- love this stuff."

Judith G. Zalesne ('58): "This course was a life saver for me. Away from home, I'm not able to take the excellent adult-education, weekly literature course which I love, and in which I've participated for the last 15 years. But this was better! And it was daily (hourly ?)! How lucky I was to find all of you. I am grateful to Penn (as I always have been) for making this course possible, to Al for challenging my mind to reach beyond ordinary analysis, and to all the "bookers" for sharing extraordinary insights and discussion. I've been on an intellectual "high" for a month. It's an addiction! Now I have to handle the disappointment of not finding some great message(s) out there when I log on two or three times a day!"

Alberto Fernandez C'74: "I've never gotten over what a luxury these book groups are. And so I hate stopping. Such separation anxiety. The people in the group have been so amazing, such a treat. I've loved listening to Leon not only talk about his own life, but think through it, with such heart-felt intelligence. Ross' scrupulousness, his self-assured, thorough thinking, his wit, his playfulness. Liz' careful analytical approach, dogged, squeaky clean and so dead on. Tara dancing so fluidly from a to b to c and sounding like she's enjoying the ride so much. And everyone else in the group, maybe not so talkative, but always interesting. Believe me, it's not easy to find this degree of articulateness, interest, and degree of perception in a island in the middle of the sea where I live. Thanks mostly to Al for his many talents and for recognizing the worth of these groups and pushing them on. These groups have the feel of a new type of groundwork being laid. I don't know what's coming on top of that groundwork, but what's already there is such an achievement. And built with such stunning simplicity! And I have to say, Al, thanks for being so mindful of alumni."

Sue Worthman CW'75: "What an extraordinary month this has been: illuminating, touching, invigorating, inspiring, confounding. I feel so fortunate to have been exposed to the keen minds and hearts of this group."

Rachel Kipnes CW'72, GED'72, L'84: "Participation in this discussion group has been a most interesting experience. First, I have learned to lug a large volume of poetry in my briefcase everywhere I go. Second, I have done far more listening than speaking- unusual for me - but a testament to the intensity and bravery (and volubility) with which you have all shared your thoughts. Third, I have learned that my boss's favorite poem is "The Emperor of Ice Cream"- who would have believed that? Most impotantly, I have thought hard, felt deeply and otherwise fed that little creative spark."

Paul Anderson C'87, ENG'87: "I can testify that this discussion feeds the creative spark even in those of us who still reside in the university. I took my first English class in my final semester at Penn, so in many ways, this was my second. And, just as it was when I arrived on campus back then, I've been amazed by the intellectual capacity of my fellow students/teachers. I am of the opinion that creativity resides no only in the person who constructs the poem, drawing, song or building, but also in those who construct the readings of their work. It was a great pleasure to have taken part in this creative effort."

Judith Vaughan: "What you are doing with these online discussion groups is very exciting and helps redefine the concept of the university.

Alberto Fernandez C '74: "The ideal Miss Manners alumnus keeps the mouth rather shut and the wallet rather open. Giving is important and just and traditional, but these book groups validate the alumnus as thinker as well. Learning, particularly liberal arts learning shouldn't have to end when you graduate from school. Lifelong liberal arts learning should be a natural rather than a specialized activity, a way to widen out, to fight the ever tightening focus of many educations. I'm grateful for these forums.... Which is to say (getting off the soapbox now) that I'm very happy as always to contribute to the "Friends" fund. It's invigorating (and a little anarchic) to see the mouth/wallet ratio tilted the other way. Long live these reading groups and the challenges they pose for Penn alumni!"

Regina Edelson: "When I was a student, I was very definite. The world was all before me then. I didn't question myself, my choices, my ability, the way I do now. Being in the virtual classroom reminds me of my younger self, "green in judgment, cold in blood". I've missed her. So in a way, you're all helping me through my mid-life crisis."

Peter Manda: "In Vienna, it's tradition (though a McDonald's induced dying tradition) to meet after (or even during) work, or school, or church, or a visit to the hospital -- to just meet at the coffee shop to talk politics, poetry, and prayer. A virtual month in Vienna is pretty good."

Renee Boroughs (C'91, CGS'04): "I think that in general, this format lends itself to people taking risks and making leaps that they might not otherwise take if they were sitting across the living room from one another. At the same time that we are all faceless though, I feel like this has been a very inter- and intra-personal experience. In addition to considering the many thought-provoking insights you've all shared over the course of the month, I find myself thinking about my faceless friends on a personal level too - wondering how Jerry's rehearsals are going, worrying about Ann stuck at O'Hare eating Chinese chicken salad for days on end, wanting to have a conversation with David about pre-Colombian codices, feeling a certain amount of awe toward Randi as mother and journalist, wondering if Al ever makes guest appearances at Colgate...the list goes on and on and on..."

Ingrid Philipp (CW'69): "I want to thank Penn for this opportunity to engage in lifelong learning. I don't know if any other college opens its doors to alums like this, and to continuous learning across space and time. I know you are a pioneer, but someone in the faceless bureaucracy must have given you the green light. Tell them I am inspired and grateful."