KWH staff

Writers House Staff 2001-2002

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 are open to ideas, questions and comments you may have, so drop us a line.


Al Filreis--- Faculty Director

Al Filreis

Al is Class of 1942 Professor of English and is one of the founders of the Writers House, along with an intrepid group of students, faculty and staff whom he led into the cottage at 3805 Locust back in October of 1995. He has been the Faculty Director of the Writers House ever since. He has taught the Writers House Fellows seminar for three years and created the Writers House Book Groups among other projects; he has won the Lindback Award and the Meyer Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching and was chosen as the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation in 1999. He has published books on modern poetry and has written extensively on poetry and politics and radical literary generations. Here is Al's web site.

Full-time staff

Kerry Sherin --- Director

Kerry Sherin

Kerry Sherin is on leave from the Directorship of the Writers House during the 2001-2002 school year. Our Acting Director is Teresa Leo (see bio below), who can be reached via email at

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. In June 2002 the Writers House community joyously celebrated Kerry and Scott Wright's wedding. Click here for a photo of Writers House friends who were able to attend.

Teresa Leo --- Acting Director

Teresa Leo

Teresa Leo has a BA in English from Bucknell University, a certificate in Hebrew Studies from Haifa University, and an MA in Creative Writing from Temple University where she was also an instructor of Composition. From 1990-1993 she was editor-in chief of Painted Bride Quarterly, for which she also ran an associated weekly reading series, a film and lecture series in partnership with Temple University, and special readings to spotlight nationally acclaimed writers published in the magazine including Coleman Barks and Gwendolyn Brooks. She was a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer's Commentary Page from 1999-2000 and a staff writer for Lip Magazine, a Philadelphia-based arts and entertainment magazine. She also worked with the Philadelphia Writing Partnerships Program, where she edited and designed anthologies of poetry written by students participating in the program from nine Philadelphia public middle schools in North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, and Kensington. Currently she serves as a contributing editor for The American Poetry Review as well as Xconnect Magazine, the literary journal at the University of Pennsylvania. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The American Poetry Review's Philly Edition, New Orleans Review, La Petite Zine, The Portable Boog Reader Philadelphia, Xconnect, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the anthology Whatever It Takes: Women on Women's Sport (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999). She also co-wrote and co-directed (with David Deifer) "Virtually, Paris," a short educational film on literary magazine publishing in the electronic age, which was presented at the Associated Writing Programs annual conference in 1999, 2001, and 2002. She has interviewed Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (Hillel Omer, 1987), Rick Moody (Xconnect, 2000), and Martin Espada(Clackamas Literary Review, 2000). Her poetry chapbook, Obscene Rhetoric, is forthcoming from Archangel Press in 2002 and her awards include a 2002 Poetry Fellowship from the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, a 2001 Literature Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize nomination. In 1990 she joined the department of Information Systems and Computing at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has worked as a technical writer and web developer for the last 10 years. In 1996 she joined the Planning Committee of the Kelly Writers House.

Thomas Devaney --- Program Coordinator

Thomas Devaney

Tom Devaney is a poet, writer and author of The American Pragmatist Fell In Love (Banshee Press 1999). He holds his MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College (CUNY), where he studied with Allen Ginsberg. Devaney's poetry has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Pom2, and in the anthology American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon 2000). His prose has been published in Poets & Writers Magazine, P.S.1/MOMA catalogues, Jacket, Publishers Weekly, The Journal for Peace & Justice, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and its Sunday magazine. Between 1996 to 2001 Devaney lived in New York City where he was active in the literary and art worlds, working on several magazines such as LUNGFULL! and on collaborations with various writers and artists -- among them Edwin Torres, with whom Devaney produced the theater piece titled "Pong." Devaney taught for five years both in the English and political science departments at Brooklyn College where he was also the Program Coordinator at the Wolfe Institute for the Humanities from 1999 to 2001. In the early '90s he worked at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities; as their Field Coordinator he supervised a project that monitored the well-being of people with mental retardation in Pennsylvania. Since 1995 Devaney has written and worked with The Lost Art of Puppet Theater both in Philadelphia and New York City.

Click here to view some of Tom's work.

Part-time staff

Jennifer Snead --- Administrative Assistant

Tahneer Oksman -- Writers House Fellows Program Coordinator

Tahneer works in the back room. She likes short walks on the beach, brightly lit dinners and superficial conversation. Favorite passtimes: rollin wit da homies, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, dressing up like Janet Reno and mud-wrestling, and spitting off of tall buildings. Pet peeves: carrots, modern Irish Drama, blatant self-promotion, and pick-up sticks.

House resident

Hannah Sassaman --- Resident Intern

Hannah Sassaman's knee

Hannah Sassaman is the Resident Intern of the Kelly Writers House. She lives upstairs with dust bunnies, comic books, three inexcplicable copies of Walter Benjamin's _Reflections_ and a broken television. She bartends in West Philadelphia and owns a warehouse at 41st and Lancaster. She recently wrote a play about turn of the century engineers. She is a member of the Philadelphia Independent Media Center and the poetry editor of Xconnect ( To read her work, ask her to show you some.

Work-study staff

Bernardo Aparicio -- Design

Venise Battle -- Live at Writers House

Josh Boyette -- Information Systems & Technology Assistant

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

Jack Catalano -- Webmaster

Even though it says John on his birth certificate, don't call him that because chances are he won't realize you are talking to him. Jack is a Junior in the College, and is a self proclaimed science nerd. Besides maintaining the website for the Writers House, he is completing a major in Molecular Biology and spends enough hours in the Biochemistry lab where he works that he calls it a second home. But don't let these facts ruin his reputation with all you ladies just yet. Jack's fun side shows itself just as much as his academic side. Jack is a starting forward on Penn's Rugby Team and has just taken up Boxing as a second sport.

Lauren Childs -- Graphic Design

Lisa Chen -- Programs & Database

Too little space/Too much space to sum myself up here.

Allie D'Augustine -- Listserve Manager

Allie D'Augustine is working on a poem entitled "Histrionic Recumbency"

Carrie Greene -- Program Assistant

Carrie Greene is a freshman in The College who hails from Whitman, Massachusetts, U.S.A. She likes the smells of cleaning products, subways, indoor swimming pools, and basements. She likes to eat yogurt raisins and drink lemon tea while watching films at "The Ritz." Her favorite show is the HBO original series, "Six Feet Under." She's a huge fan of Upper Darby's own Todd Rundgren. This week, she plans on double majoring in International Relations and Economics and becoming a corporate consultant.

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.

Seth Laracy -- Librarian

Seth is the Writers House sex machine. It says that Seth's job title is "Librarian" but his real job title is the Executive Vice President of Book Aquisitions. In his spare time he enjoys reading "The Life and Times of Larry King (Live)." Likes: watching Madeline Albright and Janet Reno mud-wrestle; trimming his beard; poison control stickers; the fine folks at SPD; and the passive voice. Pet Peeves: making love at midnight on the dunes at the cape; George W. Bush and all his capitalist pig cronies; and white fluffy kittens. He used to box in college.

Jamie Larocca -- Research and Postering

Sharon Male -- Publicity Diva

Liz Rahaim -- Development and Alumni Relations

Talia Stinson -- Write-On Assistant

Hey! My name is Talia Stinson, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm a baby freshman here at Penn and I LOVE working at the Kelly Writer's House. I am falling in love with the vivacity of this city of Brotherly Love! I really enjoy going out and hanging with my friends. Here at the house, I help organize some of the programs here at the house and am currently involved with the Write On! program, where kids come to the house to get there...write on!!

Gina Simoncini - Database Manager

Gina M. Simoncini, or more appropriately "Junior Gina Simoncini" maintains the calendar database 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."