KWH staff

Writers House Staff 2000-2001

Writers House Staff 2000-2001

The staff is an integral part of the House, coming together with the Planning Committee to generate ideas, as well as ensuring that readings, musical performances, screenings, publicity, and fundraising plans go off without a hitch. We would love to hear any ideas, questions and comments you may have, so drop us a line.


Al Filreis--- Faculty Director

Full-time staff

Kerry Sherin--- Director

Kerry Sherin

Kerry E. Sherin took her BA from Penn, majoring in Religious Studies with a slew of courses in English, including creative writing workshops. At Penn she was very active in the poetry scene; she and a few friends ran a funded weekly reading series called Fresh Fish (bringing to campus Margaret Atwood, Amiri Baraka and Olga Broumas, among others). She also edited 34th Street's book review section, and produced (as an undergrad) a national newsletter on computers in the arts. After graduating from Penn, she took an MA at the special writing program at Hollins College, and then a second MA when she joined the graduate program at Temple. As a grad student she has taught a number of creative writing seminars, and won Temple's prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award for Composition in 1992. She also won an Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Intro Award for Poetry in 1990. She served as guest editor for the literary journal Chain, Volume 7: Memoir and Anti-Memoir (summer 2000). Her publications include poems in Poet Lore, Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas, Combo, Capital, New England Review, fiction, freelance articles (most recently in Philadelphia Magazine), and reviews in the Philadelphia Inquirer. From 1991-1996, she created, then taught a special evening course for Temple and Borders Bookshop called "Calling All Fiction Lovers," in which students discussed novels by writers appearing in Philadelphia, then met with the writers; she has also taught a poetry writing workshop. For several years before coming to Temple she worked as an assistant to the film director Jim Jarmusch in New York City, helping particularly with the film Mystery Train and its promotion at the Cannes Film Festival. At Temple she served as faculty advisor to the student literary journal Parable. She has served as judge in best screenplay contests and at student film festivals - and in 1997 was asked to be a judge in the undergraduate essay contest here at Penn. She has given readings at the Unitarian Church NotCoffeehouse Series, the Highwire Gallery, Hollins College, and Temple University. As a PhD student at Temple, she has worked closely with poet, critic, and teacher Rachel Blau DuPlessis. In 1997, Ms. Sherin became the Resident Coordinator of the Kelly Writers House, and in 1998, she was named its first Director.

Heather Starr--- Program Manager

Heather Starr

Heather Starr grew up in Oregon and graduated from Barnard College in New York City. Ms. Starr was a Centennial Honors Scholar and an English Department Writing Fellow at Barnard and was instrumental in launching the Columbia University Women's Collective and organizing for an Ethnic Studies program. As an undergraduate she also did editorial work for Knopf's Chic Simple Books, Grolier's Orchard Books, and The New Yorker. She joined Penn in 1996 as program coordinator of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Center, with responsibility for events, advising and publications including a resource guide and an alumni directory. She worked as a consultant at the Writing Center, while also volunteering at Writers House. As Program Manager, Ms. Starr manages the day-to-day operations of the House, working with students, faculty and staff to develop and run programs and collaborations. She has also been the Producer of "Live at the Writers House," which airs monthly on WXPN 88.5 FM.

Part-time Staff

Philip Stevens--- Administrative Assistant

Jennifer Snead--- Administrative Assistant

Jeff McCall--- Administrative Assistant

Cassie McDonald--- Administrative Assistant

Cassie came to Philadelphia in 1998 from Portland, Oregon. Attempting to explain her return to Philadelphia, she once compared herself to the salmon returning to its birthplace, but she doesn't care to take the analogy too far. She is a lawyer (not practicing), a poet (practicing) and an avid traveler, among other things. She loves wild animals and wild places, and her most impractical fantasy is to drive a motorcycle across the U.S. and see as many national parks as possible. Cassie lives in South Philly with her mom and beloved feline companion Flip (a.k.a. Snaggletooth, the Purrmeister, Littlehead, and Flipadedoodah.) She is currently at work on a family history.

House Resident

Kirsten Thorpe --- Resident Intern

Kirsten Thorpe

Her fourth year @ the writers house. a graduate of Penn, a double-major in psychology and english. will soon be writing poems about the primary visual cortex, phonological encoding, or just different kinds of sofas. an English immigrant from D.C. a varsity gymnast. an over-avid aquarius. still weary of capitalization. sometimes, but only sometimes, she gets paid to read poems on the green couch or eat cheesecake on the kitchen counter. just trying to be cool in a groovy writers house kinda way.

Work-study staff

Josh Boyette --- Computer and Web Page Design

Josh is a freshman prospective English and Theater Arts major. He maintains the Writers House webpage and its computers. He's also a playwright.

Seth Laracy --- Librarian

Aaron Couch --- Webcast Meister

Aaron Couch is a Senior English major from Philadelphia.

Sarah Speck -- Room Reservations

Aysha Stone -- Graphic Design

An Lam -- Calendar Design

An wishes to waive aside the tedium of her daily life and describe to you the moment she became complete. she was at the university's biopond and the leaves had just finished turning an orangish golden hue. she was standing alone, gazing mindlessly at the pond in a moment of self-reflection when from the far west, zephyrus blew a magical gust of wind in her direction, carrying with it a rainbow of leaves, shrouding her in a cloak of utter beauty. at that moment, she wished she was monet and be able to stroke her colors to define that exact moment of her life. she closed her eyes and found herself in the midst of a beauty that her most admired impressionist artist had many times over captured onto a blank canvas. she smiled and realized that she no longer has to view the masterpiece from her happy place that is the arts museum, for she was living it - and she is now complete.

Liz Rahaim --Development and Alumni Relations

Bethann Miller --Development and Alumni Relations

she doesn't think her name fits her -
but it does

you see, i put out a mental classified for a best friend four years ago,
and she responded.
a miami girl with translucent skin,
she sings beatles songs on the street,
dances with me in front of my bedroom mirror,
and has perfected the way to spoon-
the left arm always has a cozy place to rest.
i know she wants to change the world, to make it a beautiful place where
our children can play together and live and grow and love together,
and i know she will

she can wiggle her nose and ears
and cite strunk and white by memory
and she knows when i am about to break down and sob.
she makes a mean cous-cous and will order pizza with me
even when we've had it for the last five nights.

we have begun to figure out life
we grab ourselves in public
and drink too much caffeine
and have split the world in three categories-
those who get boob-in-the-eye, those who don't, and men.
we know we are strange, and we love each other anyway.

she hates when I use cliches
but I think a well-placed one can work:
she makes me a better person.
she plans my weddings and finishes my thoughts and doesn't mind my ugly feet
she is the only person i can be with twenty-four hours every day and
still not run out of things to say.
i think her name fits her quite well.
but of course, i could be biased.

Leigh Esposito -- Writers

House Fellows Program Coordinator

Rebekah Grossman -- House Cook

rebekah grossman: vegetarian poetry served up in soothing shades of yum. complements of the house. art objects and savory words (adult advisory: explicit lyrics) on the side. gifts for everyone.

Allie D'Augustine -- Listserv Manager

Peter Holst -- Sound Technician

Gina Simoncini - Database Manager

Gina M. Simoncini, or more appropriately "Junior Gina Simoncini" maintains the calendar datrabse trying to keep order in a world in love with the chaos theory. Speaking of the chaos theory, did you ever wonder how and why some college girls come to live in a fraternity house? Well, ask her, she definitely knows the answer! Gina is completing a major in biology and a minor in sociology. You can often find Gina in Leidy Lab, at a very-frequently-needed computer in the Writers House library, or in Houston Hall meeting with Kite and Key coordinators and volunteers. After a long day of endless meetings or performing protein translocation experiments in a microbiology lab, the Writers House and its staff make her smile, laugh, and desire to "loaf with Whitman on the Grass."

Sean Murphy -- Archivist

Jamie Bunevich -- Research and Postering

Julia Blank -- Write-On Assistant

Jose Serrano -- Publicity

Venise Battle -- Live at Writers House

Hannah Sassaman --- Tuesday and Thursday Night Staff

Hannah Sassaman's family lives in Rochester, NJ. She's a writer, actress, activist. She performs various administrativeduties around the house, edits Xconnect and sings.

You'll find her next year in the claw-footed bathtub on the second floor.

Here is one of her shorter poems:

I Am Roughly Familiar

I am roughly familiar with
The work of God.

I have seen His trees and
Some of His mountains.

When sleeping at the wheel, I
Felt the gentle pull of
Two fingers at my chin, where
A low grumble.

I am roughly familiar with
The work of God.