The Applebaum Publishers and Editors Series


John Freeman is founder of the literary annual Freeman's, executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf, and the author and editor of ten books including The Park, The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, Dictionary of the Undoing, and, with Tracy K. Smith, There's a Revolution Outside, My Love. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and the New York Times, and been translated into over twenty languages. His next book is Wind Trees, a collection of poems, forthcoming in October from Copper Canyon. The former editor of Granta, he lives in New York City and is writer in residence at NYU.


Cindy Spiegel is co-CEO of Spiegel & Grau, an independent publishing company that was previously an imprint of Penguin Random House. Before that she was Publisher of Riverhead Books, where she was a founding editor. Among the writers whose careers she launched are James McBride, Bryan Stevenson, Khaled Hosseini, Chang-rae Lee, Gary Shteyngart, Philipp Meyer, ZZ Packer, Alex Garland, Danzy Senna, and Sana Krasikov; and she has also edited and published books by Yuval Noah Harari, Yann Martel, Sara Gruen, Harold Bloom, Ari Shavit, Dan Pink, Steven Rinella, Anne Lamott, and many others. She sits on the board of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive and on the advisory board of Columbia Global Reports. She graduated from Penn as an English major and has an MA in Comparative Literature from U.C., Berkeley.

February 4, 2021: The Nib: A Panel Discussion

Matt Bors is a cartoonist and editor who founded The Nib in 2013. His work has appeared in The NationThe GuardianDaily Kos and many other outlets. He was a two time 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for his political cartoons, which were recently collected in the book We Should Improve Society Somewhat.

Whit Taylor is a cartoonist, writer, and educator from New Jersey. She is a contributing editor to The Nib.

Matt Lubchansky is the Associate Editor of The Nib and a cartoonist and illustrator living in Queens, NY. Their work has appeared in New York MagazineVICEEaterMad MagazineGothamistThe ToastThe HairpinBrooklyn Magazine, and their long-running webcomic Please Listen to Me. They are the co-author of Dad Magazine (Quirk, 2016).

Eleri Harris is a cartoonist, journalist and Features Editor at The Nib. Her cartoons have also been published online and in print by The Australian Broadcasting CorporationThe Age, The Sydney Morning HeraldMeanjin, Cuepoint, re:form, Symbolia,, Taddle Creek, Grapple Annual, and Seven Days. Her Nib comic serial Reported Missing was shortlisted for the 2018 Center for Cartoon Studies & Slate Book Review Cartoonist Studio Prize and won Gold at the 2018 Ledger Awards in Australia.


Hillary Reinsberg is the Editor in Chief of The Infatuation and Zagat. The Infatuation's first hire, Hillary has overseen the editorial expansion of the restaurant review platform and its signature voice into cities across the U.S and U.K. With The Infatuation's 2018 acquisition of the legendary restaurant guide Zagat from Google, Hillary is now also working on developing content around that brand and platform. Previously, Hillary was an early member of BuzzFeed's news team, and as a writer and editor there covered everything from New Hampshire's election of the first all-female state delegation to viral trends on YouTube. While a student at Penn, Hillary was the first editor of Under The Button and also worked on 34th Street. Last year, she was recognized on the Media section of Forbes' 30 Under 30 list.


Special guest Ammiel Alcalay — poet, novelist, translator, critic, editor, and scholar extraordinaire — will share his experiences as founder and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. For his work on the chapbook series, launched in 2010, Alcalay was given a 2017 American Book Award from The Before Columbus Foundation. Lost & Found is one of the most exciting and groundbreaking archival poetry projects today — recuperating and publishing unique original texts by a wide-ranging group of figures such as Audre Lorde, William Burroughs, Langston Hughes, Diane di Prima, Ted Joans, Kathy Acker, Amiri Baraka, Nancy Cunard, just to name a few. Combining scholarly exegesis with preservationist ethics, Lost & Found is fundamentally collaborative, bringing together poets and scholars, faculty and students, personal and institutional, past and future. In dialogue with Penn English faculty Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Alcalay will speak about the origins of the project, its vision, its accomplishments, and its future. Anyone interested in literary archives, editorial work, twentieth-century poetry, material text, and how scholars today can wrest poetic history from the gaping maw of historical and institutional entropy will be in for a treat. The lunchtime event will also invite questions from students and members of the audience. Copies of selected Lost & Found chapbook series will be available for sale.

Poet, novelist, translator, critic, and scholar Ammiel Alcalay teaches at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His books include After Jews and Arabs, Memories of Our Future, Islanders, and neither wit nor gold: from then, from the warring factions, and a little history. Translations include Sarajevo Blues and Nine Alexandrias by Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinović. He was given a 2017 American Book Award from The Before Columbus Foundation for his work as founder and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative.


In our supposedly "post-fact" world, is there still a place for the editorial art of fact-checking? Or is the practice simply more urgent now than ever? In her authoritative guide to the field of fact-checking, Brooke Borel reminds us that the sentiment that we need fact-checking now more than ever has been heard before - certainly in earlier eras of journalism, before the digital age, and possibly all the way back to the invention of the printing press. Borel reminds us that "If journalism is a cornerstone of democracy, then fact-checking is its building inspector": and yet, fact-checking is not always taught in journalism programs, and tends to land on the chopping block at cash-strapped publishing outlets. In this conversation with Borel, Julia Bloch and the members of her Art of Editing class will discuss the tools of the trade, its historical and current urgencies, and what writers, editors, and of course readers - not just of journalism, but even of fiction, poetry, and other forms of writing - could stand to learn from the "reality check" that fact-checkers provide.

Brooke Borel is a journalist and author. She has written on everything from particle physics to the seedy world of cannabis pesticides to the history of fake news for the likes of Popular Science, the Guardian, the Atlantic, BuzzFeed News, FiveThirtyEight, Scientific American, and Undark magazine. She is a contributing editor at Popular Science and an editor-at-large at Undark. Both the Alicia Patterson Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have supported her work. She teaches writing workshops at New York University and the Brooklyn Brainery. Her books are Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World and The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, which Library Journal named one of the best reference books of 2016. And her new podcast is Methods, a show about how we know what we know.


David Daley is the author of the national best-seller Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn't Count (Norton). He is the former editor-in-chief of Salon, a senior fellow at FairVote, and a digital media fellow at the University of Georgia. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, New York magazine, USA Today, and many other prominent publications. He also ran the pioneering online fiction journal FiveChapters for nine years, helping launch the careers of many of today's top novelists and fiction writers. He lives in western Massachusetts.


Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, Penn professor Salamishah Tillet, and student journalists Taylor Hosking (&sbquo17) and Rebecca Tan (C’19) weighed in on their definitions of "journalist","rigor",and "mainstream" for this year&sbquos Applebaum Editors and Publishers panel. Creative Writing director Julia Bloch moderated the discussion, which focused on feminist publishing and media. Holmes expressed discomfort about the commodification of gender politics &minus what she called "you go girl type advertising "or "skim-milk feminism "and Hosking noted the shift to "feminist" marketing in large publications like Teen Vogue. Tan asked her fellow panelists how to balance empathy and skepticism as a female reporter, citing recent examples of reporting about sexual assault on college campuses. Each of the panelists considered the pros and cons of feminism in the Internet age, from the rise of bloggers of color to the problematic confessionals of xoJane. Tillet discussed Beyoncé’s feminist evolution in the Q and A session, as well as the shift in terminology from Black feminism to intersectional feminism. All of the participants spoke thoughtfully on what Hosking termed "insist[ing] upon your own humanity" in a complex field.


Journalist and creative writing faculty member Dick Polman will moderate a panel discussion of campus journalism, featuring Lauren Feiner of The Daily Pennsylvanian (University of Pennsylvania), Anna Mazarakis of The Daily Princetonian (Princeton), Justin Roczniak of The Triangle (Drexel), and Shannon Sweeney of The Daily Collegian (Penn State). How do student-run newspapers operate? What are the special responsibilities of an indecently run paper that is also part of a college community? Do student journalists face unique challenges or opportunities in their coverage of news? Join us for an open-ended discuss of these and other issues.


When Rachel and Maris graduated from Penn in the early 2000s, they thought the only way to build a career in books was the traditional hierarchical climb from editorial assistant to book editor at a big six publishing house. But the industry is changing, and both have embraced internet tools and communities to forge unique careers they couldn't have imagined.

Rachel Fershleiser works on Tumblr’s outreach team, specializing in publishing, nonprofit, and cultural organizations. Previously she was the community manager at Bookish and the director of public programs at Housing Works Bookstore Café, where she now serves on the board of directors. She is also the co-creator of Six-Word Memoirs and co-editor of the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning and three other books. Her Kickstarter campaign for Stock Tips: A Zine about Soup earned 13 times its initial funding goal. Flavorwire named her one of The 35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet and Betabeat named her one of The Most Poachable Players in Tech. Here she is talking about The Bookternet at TEDx.

Maris Kreizman is the creator of Slaughterhouse 90210, a blog and soon-to-be book (Flatiron Books, 2015) that celebrates the intersection of her two great loves—literature and TV. She’s currently a publishing specialist at Kickstarter. A former book editor, Maris cannot get enough of critiquing her own writing.

November 20, 2013: Lunch with literary agent Brenda Bowen

Brenda Bowen is lucky enough to represent some of the most talented children's book authors and artists in the business. Her clients include writers and illustrators of picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade and teen fiction; she also represents a select list of clients who write for the adult trade market. Brenda sells literary fiction, picture books, mass market series, and electronic books. She has eclectic taste.

Before becoming a literary agent in the summer of 2009, Brenda held a variety of positions during her 25-plus years in children's publishing. She has been editorial director of Henry Holt & Books for Young Readers, Scholastic Press, Disney/Hyperion, and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

A past member of the board of directors of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and of the Children's Book Council, Brenda is now an active member of SCBWI and of the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors' Representatives. Under the penname Margaret McNamara, she has written a number of award-winning children's books, and is herself represented by Greenburger Associates. She lives with her family in New York City, and spends as much of the summer as she can in Maine.

September 18, 2013: Lunch with Children's Book Editor Wendy Lamb

Wendy Lamb is Vice President, and Publishing Director of Wendy Lamb Books, Random House Children’s Books Group. The imprint publishes titles for middle grade and young adult readers. Books she has edited have won many honors, including the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, the Michael L. Printz Award, and Honor,the Carnegie Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and Honor, the Scott O’Dell Award, the Christopher Medal, and the Pura Belpre Award. Among the authors she has published are Christopher Paul Curtis, Peter Dickinson, Patricia Reilly Giff, Marthe Jocelyn, Walter Dean Myers, Donna Jo Napoli, Gary Paulsen, Dana Reinhardt, Rebecca Stead, Meg Rosoff, Graham Salisbury, Art Slade, and Elizabeth Winthrop. In l999 she won the LMP Award for Editorial Achievement in Children's Publishing.


Founded in January of 2011, Full Stop is committed to an earnest, expansive, and rigorous discussion of literature and literary culture. Full Stop focuses on young writers, works in translation, and books they feel are being neglected by other outlets while engaging with the significant changes occurring in the publishing industry and the evolution of print media. Featuring cultural criticism, serious discussion of contemporary thought and pedagogy, as well as engagement with the mystical, non-waking world, Full Stop is a unique corner in the growing field of online criticism.

November 28, 2011: Lunch with the Editors of Electric Literature

Benjamin Samuel and Halimah Marcus, editors of the innovative new-media literary magazine Electric Literature, joined us at the Writers House for an informal discussion over lunch. Benjamin and Halimah’s presentation incorporated several elements indicative of their magazine’s technologically-minded mission, such as an original animation inspired by a single sentence from Marc Basch’s short story "Three "and an "educational "viral video which sought to answer the question: which big book of 2010 would be most likely to protect you in the event of a shooting? (That particular distinction went to Joshua Cohen’s surprisingly thin Witz). We were also treated to a glimpse of the special tweet story Rick Moody wrote for Electric Literature which was published on the magazine’s twitter (@ElectricLit) in 153 segments of 140 characters each. Before taking questions from the audience, Benjamin and Halimah summarized for us the four basic elements of their magazine in, appropriately, mathematical form: Great Writing + Multimedia Collaboration + Innovative Distribution + Social Media = Electric Literature.

November 7, 2011: Lunch with the Editor of One Story, Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino, Associate Editor of one of the nation’s most successful independent literary magazines One Story, joined us here at the Writers House for an informal talk followed by a Q&A. A Philly native, Marie-Helene greeted the audience with an emphatic "Go Eagles!"before launching into a discussion of One Story’s unusual format – each issue is comprised entirely of one piece of short fiction, and writers are published one time only – as well as her personal connection to the journal. She explained that because of this format, One Story is able to pursue a unique philosophy of supporting writers and guiding them through the process of revision, which allows its editors to "see a story in its embryonic stage and pull it through " when it might ordinarily be passed over. In addition to being an editor, Marie-Helene is also a fiction writer herself and was able to give us a unique look into the publishing industry from both an inside and outside perspective.

October 24, 2011: Lunch with Kathleen Volk Miller, Editor of Painted Bride Quarterly

We were joined for a Q&A over pizza by Kathleen Volk Miller, co-editor of Painted Bride Quarterly, one of the country’s longest-running literary magazines based right here in Philadelphia, as well as two of PBQ’s Student Co-op’s, Frank Santoni and Lindsey Fratz. During the lively discussion that ensued, Kathleen emphasized the uniquely "uber democratic "process of PBQ’s readers and editors – three readers must read every submission before it can be either brought to the editor’s table or rejected. She even joked that her wardrobe was a committee decision: "I sent them pictures today, &sbquo what should I wear? &sbquo "Kathleen also spoke about PBQ’s other endeavors outside of publication, such as their monthly "Slam Bam Thank You Ma‚am "interactive writing competition, which she described as "Whose Line is it Anyway crossed with Henry Rollins."In very PBQ fashion, the winner isn’t chosen by a panel of hand-picked judges, but by the "hootin‚ and hollerin" of the audience itself.

October 3, 2011: Lunch with the Editors of Apiary Magazine

Lillian Dunn, Co-Founder of Apiary Magazine, came to visit the Writers House as part of the Applebaum Publishers and Editors Series. As Ms. Dunn describers, Apiary is a quarterly magazine, coming out twice a year in print and twice a year online. Apiary was founded in the hopes that this magazine could publish a thirteen-year-old's poem next to the writing of a major Philadelphia writer published in The New Yorker and, indeed, the editors have succeeded in publishing the works of Philly writers across a broad range of ages, backgrounds and styles. The audience, largely made of students, asked questions about how one goes about starting a literary magazine, and the challenges one has to overcome to do so. Ms. Dunn shared with the audience the story behind the name: an "apiary" is a place where bees go to collect honey, or in this case, where editors gather writings from different communities, and together, they create something delicious.

October 1, 2009: Lewis Lapham

Lewis Lapham, former editor of Harper’s Monthly and winner of fourteen National Magazine Awards, joined us here at the Writers House for an informal talk and conversation. Lapham was introduced by Peter Struck, a professor of Classical Studies here at Penn, who in addition to highlighting Lapham’s many accomplishments, jokingly presented him to the audience as “a biter of a thousand hands."After taking the podium, Lapham provided a brief history of his career trajectory from writer to editor before introducing his most recent endeavor since entering "retirement" – a journal entitled Lapham’s Quarterly, which publishes both literary and historical content. Each issue of his Quarterly, Lapham explained, contains an eclectic mix of documents: “you’ll find something from 478 AD next to something from 1836 next to something from 330 BC. " The project allows Lapham, who studied history at Yale, to channel his passion for the past. As he told those in attendance, he hopes to turn Quarterly into a profit-bearing enterprise, so that he might invest those profits in the publication of out-of-print historical texts.