City Planning Poetics


Christina Jackson, PhD is a resident of West Philadelphia. She is an urban sociologist and scholar-activist with interests in the relationships between poor/middle class neighborhoods of color, their environments and city entities/institutions. She takes a social justice approach by centering the stories and lives of residents through immersing herself within community struggles. Christina is a professor of Sociology at Stockton University in New Jersey. Christina received her PhD from University of California Santa Barbara and completed her postdoctoral studies in Africana Studies at Gettysburg College. She is co-author of "Embodied Difference: Divergent Bodies in Public Discourse" (Lexington Books) and "Black in America: The Paradox of the Color Line" (Polity Inc). She is also on the board of Camp Sojourner Girls Leadership program and Land health Institute.

Asali Solomon is the author of The Days of Afrekete, a novel forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in September. Her novel Disgruntled was cited as one of the best books of 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Denver Post; the short stories in her first book, Get Down earned her a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's, Kenyon Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vibe, Essence, the Paris Review Daily, and in the anthology How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. Solomon teaches fiction writing and African American and Caribbean Literature at Haverford College, and has become increasingly chauvinistic about being a near-lifelong West Philadelphian.


Based in the UAE and Vermont, USA, Jill Magi works in text, image, and textile. The author of six books of poetry and numerous handmade books housed in the University at Buffalo Poetry Collection, Jill ran Sona Books for ten years, publishing chapbooks of experimental works that she described as "risky, quiet, and community-based." Her most recent book, SPEECH (Nightboat 2019), is set in a city of middles: something like the Middle East and something like the Midwest and the fictional wanderer who navigates these places resides in a female body of middle age. Jill has had residencies with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Brooklyn Textile Arts Center, and has taught for more than twenty years at research universities, liberal arts colleges, in MFA and BFA programs, and in community-based adult literacy programs. Jill has had solo exhibitions of visual work at the NYU Abu Dhabi Project Space Gallery, Tashkeel, and Grey Noise, and is a co-founder of JARA Collective. Visit her web-site here.

Akira Drake Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Weitzman School in the Department of City & Regional Planning. Her research examines the politics of urban planning, or the ways that disenfranchised groups re-appropriate their marginalized spaces in the city to gain access to and sustain urban political power. Dr. Rodriguez's forthcoming manuscript, Diverging Space for Deviants: The Politics of Atlanta's Public Housing (University of Georgia Press 2021), explores how the politics of public housing planning and race in Atlanta created a politics of resistance within its public housing developments. This research offers the alternative benefits of public housing, outside of shelter provision, to challenge the overwhelming narrative of public housing as a dysfunctional relic of the welfare state. Dr. Rodriguez was recently awarded a Spencer Foundation grant to study how parent and educational advocates mobilize around school facility planning processes in Philadelphia.

City Planning Poetics 8: Urban Ruins

Donna Stonecipher is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Transaction Histories (2018), which was cited by The New York Times as one of the 10 best poetry books of 2018. She has published one book of criticism, Prose Poetry and the City (2018). Her poems have been published in many journals, including The Paris Review, and have been translated into eight languages. In 2018 she won a Working Grant from the Berlin Senat. She translates from German, and her translation of Austrian poet Friederike Mayröcker's études, for which she received an NEA fellowship, is forthcoming in 2019. She lives in Berlin.

Daniel R. Biddle, the Philadelphia Inquirer's former politics editor, has worked as a journalist for four decades. His Inquirer stories on the courts won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. As an editor he helped direct Inquirer investigative projects, regional news coverage, and reporting on elections. He and Murray Dubin co-authored Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (Temple University Press, 2010; paperback ed. 2017). Biddle previously worked as a reporter for the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, O. He has a BA in history from the University of Michigan and has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He teaches journalism at the University of Delaware and at Penn, and lives in West Philadelphia.

March 21, 2019: City Planning Poetics 7: Carceral Justice

Emily Abendroth is a poet, teacher, and anti-prison activist. Much of her creative work investigates state regimes of surveillance, force, and power, as well as individual and collective resistance strategies. Her books include ]Exclosures[ from Ahsahta Press and The Instead, a collaboration with fiction writer Miranda Mellis, from Carville Annex. Her works are often published in limited edition, handcrafted chapbooks by small and micropresses such as Belladonna, Horse Less Press, Little Red Leaves, Albion Press, and Zumbar.She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony and the Headlands Center for the Arts, and was named a 2013 Pew Fellow in Poetry. She is an active organizer with the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (a grassroots campaign working to end life without parole sentencing in Pennsylvania) and is co-founder of Address This! (an education and empowerment project that provides innovative, social justice correspondence courses to individuals incarcerated in Pennsylvania) and the media project LifeLines: Voices Against the Other Death Penalty.

Nina Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Coordinator of the Program in Black Studies at Swarthmore College. Consistent with her previous study in Urban Studies (BA, Penn), African-American Studies(BA, Penn) and Culture, Communication and Criticism (MA, New York University), her research interests lie in the areas of inequality, politics, race, space, class, culture, stratification and mobility. She has recently published papers on issues of community and residential choice relative to the experience of upward mobility (A Long Way From Home: Race, Community, and Educational Opportunity) and a sociology of Black Liberation and contributed to a documentary (Turning A Corner, Beyondmedia Productions) on the legal, economic, and social barriers to exiting prostitution. She has done work on a project that looks at representations of race, class and place in mid century black novels, including the work of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston and a community video project on the impact of Islam on black religious, social and political life in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. Based on her dissertation research (PhD Sociology, Northwestern University), her book project revisits Du Bois’ and Frazier's classic works and considers issues of identity and meaning making processes among the black elite, its relationship to the larger black population, and its role in any projects of collective racial advancement. Her current research is a multi-method study of the impacts of mass incarceration at the neighborhood level, which is complimented by her teaching courses in Urban Sociology, Race and Public Policy in State Correctional Institutions in Pennsylvania. She wholeheartedly endorses every word of James Baldwin, but finds the following particularly prescient in shaping and informing her work, “The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here.“

October 23, 2018: City Planning Poetics 6:

Brian D. Goldstein is an architectural and urban historian and an assistant professor of architectural history at Swarthmore College. His research focuses on the intersection of the built environment, race and class, and social movements, especially in the United States. His writing includes the 2017 book The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle Over Harlem and articles appearing in the Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, and the edited volumes Reassessing Rudolph; Affordable Housing in New York; and Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream. He is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Society of Architectural Historians, Society for American City and Regional Planning History, Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Goldstein received his PhD from Harvard University and has taught previously at the University of New Mexico and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Douglas Kearney has published six books, most recently, Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). BOMB says: "[Buck Studies] remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical." Kearney's collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection that Publisher's Weekly called "an extraordinary book." His work has been exhibited at the American Jazz Museum, Temple Contemporary, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and The Visitor's Welcome Center (Los Angeles). Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family west of Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.

February 22, 2018: City Planning Poetics 5: The Queer Ordinary

erica kaufman is the author of POST CLASSIC (forthcoming from Roof Books), INSTANT CLASSIC (Roof Books, 2013) and censory impulse (Factory School, 2009). she is also the co-editor of NO GENDER: Reflections on the Life and Work of kari edwards (Venn Diagram, 2009), and of Adrienne Rich: Teaching at CUNY, 1968-1974 (Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, 2014). Prose and critical work can be found in: Rain Taxi, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Jacket2, Open Space/SFMOMA Blog, Women's Studies Quarterly, and in The Color of Vowels: New York School Collaborations (ed. Mark Silverberg, Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). Additional critical work is forthcoming in the MLA Guide to Teaching Gertrude Stein (eds. L. Esdale and D. Mix) and Reading Experimental Writing (ed. Georgina Colby). kaufman is the Director of the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College, and teaches in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program and in the undergraduate college.

Jen Jack Gieseking is an urban cultural geographer, feminist and queer theorist, environmental psychologist, and American Studies scholar. He is engaged in research on co-productions of space and identity in digital and material environments. Jack's work pays special attention to how such productions support or inhibit social, spatial, and economic justice in regards to gender and sexuality. He is working on his second book project, A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queer Women, 1983-2008, which is under contract with NYU Press and expected to be released in print and online open access in 2019. Jack is also conducting research on trans people's use of Tumblr as a site of cultural production. He is Assistant Professor of Public Humanities in American Studies at Trinity.

November 13, 2017: City Planning Poetics 4: Urban Memory

Simone White is the author of Dear Angel of Death (coming later this year from Ugly Duckling Presse), Of Being Dispersed, and House of Envy of All the World, the poetry chapbook, Unrest, and the collaborative poem/painting chapbook, Dolly, with Kim Thomas. Her poetry and prose have been featured in NYTimes Book Review, Harper's Magazine, BOMB Magazine, Chicago Review, and Harriet: The Blog. She has been the recipient of the 2017 Whiting Award, Cave Canem Foundation fellowships, and recognition as a New American Poet for the Poetry Society of America, in 2013. She works as Program Director at The Poetry Project and teaches writing and American literature at Thew New School, Eugene Lang College.

Randall Mason plays several roles at Penn's School of Design: Executive Director of PennPraxis; Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning; and Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. His published work includes: The Once and Future New York, on the origins of historic preservation in New York City (University of Minnesota Press, 2009, winner of the Society of Architectural Historians' Antoinette Forester Downing Award), and North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City (with photographer Christopher Payne, Fordham University Press, 2014). Mason's professional practice includes projects at many scales, addressing planning, preservation and public space issues, commissioned by organizations including the Brookings Institution, Getty Conservation Institute, William Penn Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, and the National Park Service. His education includes a PhD from Columbia University (urban planning/urban history), MS from Pennsylvania State University (geography), and BA from Bucknell (geography). He worked previously at the Getty Conservation Institute, University of Maryland and Rhode Island School of Design, and was the recipient of the 2012-13 National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize.

April 20, 2017: City Planning Poetics 3: Queer Placemaking

Max J. Andrucki is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography & Urban Studies at Temple University. He holds degrees from Leeds University, the University of Vermont, and Columbia University and has published on sexuality and space, geographies of the body, mobilities, and critical whiteness studies. Also a songwriter, he's a member of long-running indiepop band The Smittens. He lives in New York City.

Rachel Levitsky came out as a Lesbian in 1984 and as a poet in 1994. In between those two events she wrote fact sheets and polemic for street actions demonstrating for LGBT and Women's Liberation, Women's Health, and against the state negligence of the AIDS epidemic. As a poet and a prose writer and teacher, she's been interested in the strange ways of USAmerican subjectification. She's specifically informed by being born of Jewish refugees and immigrants with an absented story of what came before settling in New York City. She is the author of three book length collections, Under the Sun (Futurepoem, 2003), NEIGHBOR (UDP, 2009) and the poetic novella, The Story of My Accident is Ours (Futurepoem, 2013). She calls her current writing project The Mother of Separation, which she describes as a 'memoir without memory.' Adjunct and intersecting with her writing practice, Levitsky builds and participates in a variety of publishing, collaboration and pedagogical/performative activities. In 1999 she founded Belladonna* which is now Belladonna* Collaborative, a matrix of literary action promoting the writers and writing of the contemporary feminist avant-garde. In 2010, she co-founded the Office of Recuperative Strategies, which has staged urban walks and instant performances and publications in a variety of cities, about which more can be learned at She is currently a fellow of LMCC Process Spaces, an open studio project on Governors Island. She teaches writing Pratt Institute, Naropa Summer Writing Program and lay institutions in NYC. In 2009 she was Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at University of Pennsylvania's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing.

September 6, 2016: City Planning Poetics 2

Francesca Russello Ammon is an assistant professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation in the School of Design. A cultural historian of the urban built environment, she has published articles on topics including urban renewal, gentrification, and children’s books about destruction. Her recent book, Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape (Yale, 2016), traces the transformation of this iconic machine from wartime weapon to instrument of postwar planning. As a Mellon Researcher at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, she is now beginning a new project on the role of photographs in shaping postwar historic preservation and urban renewal.

Jason Mitchell is most recently the author of FIELD for Peter Culley (self-published 2015) and is the host and coordinator of the Philadelphia reading series Frank O'Hara's Last Lover. His writing can be found in Hi Zero, Court Green, Jacket 2, and Stolen Island among others.

February 24, 2016: CITY PLANNING POETICS 1

Jena Osman's books of poems include Corporate Relations (Burning Deck, 2014), Public Figures (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), The Network (Fence Books 2010, selected for the National Poetry Series in 2009), An Essay in Asterisks (Roof Books, 2004) and The Character (Beacon Press, winner of the 1998 Barnard New Women Poets Prize). She is a Professor of English at Temple University, where she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program. She founded and edited the literary magazine Chain with Juliana Spahr for twelve years, which is currently archived in the ReIssues section of the online journal Jacket2 ; Osman and Spahr now edit the occasional book series ChainLinks together.

Amy Hillier has been at Penn since 1995 when she came to complete her MSW and PhD in social welfare. Her dissertation on historical mortgage redlining made extensive use of GIS mapping and eventually led to a faculty position at the School of Design. She currently teaches GIS courses in city planning, urban studies, and social work. Her research has focused on spatial health disparities including access to healthful foods and exposure to outdoor advertising. Currently she is engaged in a collaborative effort to extend academic and field training opportunities for graduate social work, education, and nursing students relating to social, educational, and health services for LGBTQ youth, particularly trans youth of color. She lives in West Philadelphia with her husband and two young children.