Annual programs

The Writers House features several annual programs: events we love so much that we host them every year. The Hub votes on a novel to read for our spring marathon reading — an all-night event, featuring rounds of volunteer readers and homemade foods pulled from the selected book. Our Mind of Winter program chases away the winter doldrums with soups and stews and seasonal readings. We invite slam poets and sound artists for our yearly Caroline Rothstein Oral Poetry Program. Our end-of-year Senior Capstone program might be the best thing we do. Check out the descriptions and links below for photos and recordings from these and other annual programs.

Suzanne Vega at the Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium, 2008Senior Capstone program, 2008Marathon reading of Kerouac's On the Road, 2007Danny Goldstein at the end-of-year party, 2008


7-Up is an annual program for which the Writers House invites seven guests to speak for seven minutes each about a shared topic. One year featured seven minutes each about "bitter" things: bitter herbs, chocolate, relationships, & the very idea of the bitter-sweet. Another year we explored "Ben" in honor of Ben Franklin.

Alumni Weekend at the Kelly Writers House

Every year in honor of Alumni Weekend we invite a panel of alumni authors to share their work. If youĂ­d like to find out about more events and programs available to alumni, visit our alumni page.

Beltran Family Program

The winner of the annual Beltran Family Award for Innovative Teaching and Mentoring at the Kelly Writers House, as part of his or her award year, receives a grant to organize and host a Writers House program.

Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium

Made possible through a grant from Mitch (C'78 M'82 WG'87) and Margo Blutt, the Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium features acclaimed songwriters performing and discussing their work in our intimate Arts Cafe. Our first two annual programs brought Roseanne Cash and Suzanne Vega.

Bob Lucid Memorial Program in Fiction

Every year we invite a contemporary novelist to read at the Writers House in memory of beloved Penn professor, Robert "Bob" Lucid, who taught at Penn for thirty-two years, from 1964 until his retirement in 1996, and whose visionary spirit and infectious enthusiasm infused the Writers House from its beginning. This program is made possible thanks to generous support from Susan Small Savitsky (CW'75) and Ed Kane (C'71).

Caroline Rothstein Oral Poetry series

In honor of their daughter Caroline, whose longstanding presence and participation in Penn's spoken-word community helped inspire a resurgence of oral poetry on campus, Steven and Nancy Rothstein (CW'75) established a fund to support an annual oral poetry program at the Writers House. Each year we host a program or project featuring oral poetry in one of its many forms: spoken-word, slam, or sound poetry, to name only a few possibilities.

The Charles Bernheimer symposium

Established in the memory of Comparative Literature teacher and scholar Charles Bernheimer by Writers House Advisory Board member Kate Levin (GAS'96), the Bernheimer Symposium is organized each year by the Writers House Program Coordinator, who takes the opportunity to think expansively about programming possibilities.

The Cheryl J. Family fiction program

The Cheryl J. Family Fiction program, generously supported by Writers House Board Member Cheryl Family (C'91), features the work of young or emerging fiction writers.

End of Year Party

Each spring, towards the end of the semester, the Hub comes together at the Writers House to celebrate another year gone by. We toast and roast old friends and we welcome new ones, we send those who are leaving us off with style and aplomb. We fire up the grill for hotdogs, veggie burgers, and other treats, and we laugh and cry with our friends as we recognize each and every hub member's contribution to this incredible Writers House project.

Hartman Family Screenwriting Symposium

The Hartman Family Screenwriting Symposium allows us to host an annual event with a professional screenwriter so that aspiring moviemakers in the Writers House community can get a taste of the writers' room. Past events in the series have featured Scott Neustadter (500 Days of Summer, The Fault in our Stars) and John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Romeo + Juliet).

Homecoming Celebration

Each year in the fall, the Writers House hosts a Homecoming Celebration, featuring panel discussions with alumni non-fiction writers.

Hub Thanksgiving

Members of the Writers House Planning Committee (the Hub) celebrate Thanksgiving early each year with a potluck dinner at the Writers House.

Marathon Reading

The Hub votes each year to select a book for our annual marathon reading. Our first annual marathon reading, held in memory of the late and brilliant Comparative Literature Professor Charles Bernheimer, featured a reading of Jack Kerouac's On the Road in a "scroll" form: a continuous sheet taped together and wrapped around hand-cut wooden dowels. Reading the whole scroll took nine hours, and the participants consumed a staggering quantity of hot dogs, apple pie, chili beans, and popcorn -- foods inspired by the book -- as we channeled the Beat spirit deep into the night. The last band of dedicated readers finally careened out the door well after 2 AM.

Mind of Winter

In January of every year, the Writers House Planning Committee embraces the post-holiday doldrums with a celebration of winter's comforts, inspired by Wallace Stevens's chilly poem, "The Snow Man." For Mind of Winter we gather in the living room, stoke a big fire in the fireplace, simmer several big pots of soups and stews, and share our favorite winter-themed readings with one another. Let it snow!

Senior Capstone Programs

Each mid-May, we celebrate graduating seniors who have been closely affiliated with the Writers House community. Visit the Senior Capstone page for MP3 recordings of the seniors' comments, readings, or performance, preceded by an introduction given by the Faculty Director, Director, or another key member of the Writers House staff. Attending our "capstone" program are the families and friends of the seniors -- a joyous occasion for the community, truly.

The Weber Symposium

Established by Wharton graduate and KWH Friend Stacey Weber (W'85), the annual Weber Symposium strives to emphasize the importance of clarity in writing about finance and economics by featuring guest speakers whose work reflects this commitment to lucid prose.

Writers House New York

Once a year since 2002, Susan and Louis Meisel have sponsored a benefit at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery at 141 Prince St. in SoHo to raise money in support of the Kelly Writers House Young and Emerging Writers Fund. Because of the generosity of Louis and Susan, who have donated the use of their gallery and the costs of a delicious reception, 100% of the receipts from this annual benefit go directly toward the Kelly Writers House young writers fund.