KWH staff

Kelly Writers House Staff 2006-2007

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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 Kelly Professor of English and Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing 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 since 2000, 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

Jessica Lowenthal --- Director

Jessica Lowenthal

Jessica is a poet, a teacher, and a student, who has been a member of the Writers House community for five years. Before moving to Philadelphia to attend Penn's doctoral program in English, Jessica received an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and a BA in English from Brown University. Jessica's reading interests are eclectic: she loves experimental poetry, trashy novels, blogs, cookbooks, and the Philly weeklies. Visit Jessica in room 109 and you'll find her eager to talk about ways you can get involved in the Writers House community. Or join her in the kitchen sometime, to talk about a visiting author.

Erin Gautsche --- Program Coordinator

Erin Gautsche

Erin Gautsche grew up in northern Indiana, and knows more about corn fields and red state politics than she would often like to. When not in Indiana, she lived briefly in Guatemala, and then Indonesia, and ran around the world as much as possible in between. After a year in Chicago, she moved to Philadelphia and is now a proud West Philly resident. In the past she has been a waitress, an artist's assistant, a reading tutor, a florist, a nursing home server, a youth care worker, a grant writer, and a graduate student, and is now very pleased to be the Program Coordinator of Kelly Writers House, where good people talk about good writing. When not at the Writers House, she is reading, or writing, or cooking, or watching movies, or taking pictures, or planning projects, or at dive bars, or in the park, or on her patio with a glass of wine and some friends, or dreaming about her next big adventure, or doing as many of those things at once as she can possibly manage.

Sam Allingham --- Assistant Coordinator

Sam Allingham

Sam Allingham was born over the ridge in a little brick house in the year of our lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four. He lives in constant fear of marauding bandits. His moral code is firm, but compassionate. In his spare time he writes fiction about his small-town hometown and his friends, all of whom moved to the West Coast two months ago. Philadelphia is his home; it keeps his secrets.

Elizabeth McDonnell --- Assistant Coordinator

Elizabeth McDonnell

Elizabeth McDonnell is originally from Philadelphia and has a 10 year long shark obsession. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in '05 with a degree in creative writing (poetry) before running away to Ireland for as long as the country would allow her to stay. Now she's back in Philly and can be found writing, reading anything from Louise Gluck to Calvin & Hobbes, in Valley Green, or holding onto the hope that she will, one day, learn to scuba dive.

Jamie-Lee Josselyn --- Assistant to the Director of the CPCW

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn grew up in Epping, New Hampshire, but now lives in a West Philadelphia studio apartment with her surly but amusing cat, Alfie. She graduated from Penn in 2005 with a degree in Creative Writing and French and is happy to have stayed close to the Writers House community.

A nonfiction writer with interests in poetry and psychology, Jamie-Lee is currently working on a project about her mother. Jamie-Lee's favorite things include mornings at her usual coffee shop, long conversations with important friends, the journal she bought on her favorite street in Paris, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

John Carroll --- Assistant Director for Development

John Carroll

Having lived in Philadelphia his entire life, John does not understand travel concepts like "airplanes" and "interstate highways." He does, however, understand how to hold on tight, which is why he remains in the city he has called, among many other worse things, "home." It is also why he is excited to be back at the Writers House full-time. John is reluctant to call himself a writer, but not at all reluctant to write about writing. John graduated from Penn in 2005 with a degree in 20th Century English. He is also the 2006-2007 Writers House Junior Fellow.

Maria Tessa Sciarrino --- Assistant to the Director

Maria Tessa Sciarrino

Maria graduated with a degree in photography from The University of the Arts a couple years back, but shamefully admits to not doing much with it besides taking photographs of bands for random publications. Instead she spends her time immersed in the world of music -- she's one of our resident music gurus. Maria books live music events, hosts a radio program for WPRB (103.3FM Princeton, NJ) and writes for a variety of places. You can read her treatise on why figure skating music sucks right here.

Work-study staff

Sean Breslin --- Program Assistant

Sean Breslin

Sean was born in Philadelphia, Tacony to be exact, and is not considering offers for a new home. He used to get really worked up about politics, but has assumed a pleasant resignation about it all. Sean loves Philadelphia, and is particularly fond of its West side. He enjoys hearing, smelling, seeing, looking and listening. He wishes to find the blissful medium between apathy and passion, but until then will gravitate toward the former.

Arielle Brousse --- XConnect & Publication Liason

Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse freely admits that she doesn't know much about anything, but she maintains that admitting she has a problem is half the battle. A senior at the Writers House, Arielle will be having a low-level panic attack at basically any time you see her during this coming year, about where she's headed and whether or not she has to go away. She works with Quake and xconnect, and more often than not feels a twinge of guilt about the fact that she tends to edit others' writing much more than she herself writes. She spends too much money on movies, too much time on non-cerebral television shows, and too much mental energy trying to use theory to legitimate these media items into relevant vestiges of our present collective cultural identity. Every now and then, if you pay close attention, you can catch her cackling with glee that she's wound up in a place where she can study pop culture so seriously. Additionally (but no less importantly), she reads plenty of children's books, keeps a mongoose named Rikki in her room, listens to music rather loudly, wears a lot of black, drinks gallons of tea, and often smells strongly of peppermint (for which she's sorry to anyone close).

Jillian Budd --- Program Assistant

Jillian Budd


Aichlee Bushnell --- Program Assistant

Aichlee Bushnell

A native Philadelphian, Aichlee can't knit, ski, shoot an arrow or write in binary code. To make up for all of the things that Aichlee is not good at, she writes poetry. Currently the Behrman scholar of the Writers House, Aichlee has performed her work with the legendary poets Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. Aside from writing, Aichlee's two most favorite activities are dancing and smiling. A recovering Nutella addict, Aichlee now maintains a healthy obsession with Brasilian music, owl figurines, and long long necklaces. She's a sophomore CompLit major and hopes one day to study literature from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. She organizes her books by color and has an aloe plant named Erzulie instead of a cat. Her landlord doesn't allow cats.

Zachary Smith Ferris --- Books and Publications Manager

Zachary Smith Ferris

Zachary Smith Ferris is best defined by metaphor. As defined by a good friend, "Zach is a squid in a pool full of octopusses. Different tentacles, a bit longer, and only one eye, with one special tentacle that they can use - it's kinda like an antennae..." the metaphor broke down around that point, but it's up to you to decide exactly where.

Adam Franklin --- Webmaster v2.01

Cereal was only the natural next step after Raisin Bran Boy

On Writing a Bio, a short essay by Adam Franklin:
So I think to myself, what does it take to write a bio. I guess I should write that I am a West Philly resident. I dig it. Oh, and since I work for the Writers House, I should point out that I write the Word from the Bird, which you may or may not enjoy (please refer to all definitions of enjoy). I play the tabla... In the market for for inner peace... Oh, I was searching for a picture to put here. It turns out that I don't ever wear a shirt in pictures. Except for one very old picture of me in Trenchie on the rooftops and one where I was shaking my head real real fast. In neither can you see my face really. So, I went with the Mohawk edition, circa August of 2005. I've never made a website for myself, although I have begun the process numerous times. I am alive. Right now, I'm living. I think it is a shame that some people have to work on weekends. I love the beach, and paan,... and my favorite movie is Hackers... and... well, I guess that's it. A short bio should be short I suppose. So, end of transmission. It turns out that this is how I write a bio, although you should note that I did not write a biography.

Danny Goldstein --- Program Assistant

Dan is a junior English and Philosophy major in the College at Penn. He is from Delaware. Dan likes barbequing meat, lifting weights, and beating up nerds. He also likes puppies and poetry (alliteration, sweet). His words to live by are "dude" and "chillax." He is in a frat, which makes him totally super dope fratastic. He pops his collar frequently. The Writers House is the highest paying position he has held thus far. Dan plans on saving all the money that he makes so that, in the future, he can purchase his own submarine and conquer the bottom of the ocean and rename himself Captain Nemo.

Thomson Guster --- Program Assistant

Thomson Guster

Thomson is a man without conviction, a man who doesn't know how to sell contradiction. He comes and goes. He comes and goes [like a] karma karma karma karma karma chameleon. He comes and goes. He comes and goes. Loving would be easy if your colors were like his dreams; red, gold, and green.

Yumeko Kawano --- Baker in Residence

Yumeko Kawano

Yumeko was born on a small waterfront town in Japan. Her mother was a poor seamstress, and her father a handsome warrior. Their marriage was prohibited, so the young couple fled. They were chased out of China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ireland, Neverneverland, and Lichtenstein, until finally settling down in Scarsdale, New York.

And no, Yumeko is not Jewish.

Nowadays Yumeko can be found hibernating in the Writers House kitchen. Or in Room 202. Or, as a last resort, the Dining Hall. Yumeko claims to have an apartment, but nobody has seen it. In fact, nobody has ever seen her face, since it is always buried in a 12 inch thick Chinese Literature anthology, or 19th century American Literature.

And she puts walnuts in her banana bread. Instead of chocolate chips. I mean... what kind of a person is she?

Richard Lawrence --- Text File Specialist

Richard Lawrence

Richard Lawrence uses the De Laval Cream Separator.

Warith Deen Madyun --- Program Assistant

Warith Deen Madyun

Warith Deen Madyun, raised in Newark, NJ, the home of "Masjid Rahmah." Spent my high school years in New England, Avon Old Farms School to be exact! Muslim since birth, "what's more important than worshiping the creator alone," nothing. Just arrived from Egypt after spending a semester studying Arabic, and Al-Islam in Cairo. As far as the Writers House goes, KWH has become a second home, it's safe to say that there's no place on campus like it, seriously! In closing, it is important for everyone to understand and implement the idea that every action and decision is either based on ignorance or knowledge; ignorance leads to failure, and knowledge leads to success. Until next time...

Michelle Rajunov --- The Little One

Michelle Rajunov

Michelle is a resident alien in the U.S. of A. working as an undercover middle school student for a foreign government she cannot name. She claims to come from Mexico City, but she cannot fool anyone with her thick Russian accent. "In Siberia, where I am from," Michelle often begins, "we used to catch squirrels with our bare hands." Subsequently she was named director of the Squirrel Catching Committee Foundation, which was later dissolved due to the dissenting opinion of the Save the Squirrels Foundation Committee. She remained jobless for an astounding five minutes, after which Michelle was assigned the unequivocally grandiose task of naming the kitchen cabinets. Later that day she was taken in as J Lo's personal filing slave, and has not been seen since. Other than allegedly webmastering the Kelly Writer's Universe, Michelle roams the halls of the U of P pretending to be studying everything and nothing, all at the same time. She is striving to major in psychology and digital media design, but in reality she is just looking for an excuse to simultaneously delve into the matters of artsy mathematics, mathematical artisticalness, and gramatically incorrect running commentaries on What Would Freud Say. The only writing Michelle does is in lengthy philosophically comical emails and/or biographies, in which she constantly complains about the differences between the Spanish and English keyboards. When not undergoing a nervous breakdown, Michelle attempts rock climbing, facebook stalking, and inconspicuously infiltrating people's lives. In her previous lives, Michelle has been an interior designer, a carpenter, and a professional surfer, and she plans to one day be reincarnated into a Japanese Anime character with blue hair (you gotta have blue hair).

Kaegan Sparks --- Program Assistant

Kaegan Sparks

Having recently escaped a hellish and jalapeno-tinged incarceration similar to Jessica Gold's, Kaegan is more than thrilled to find herself among a consortium of such bookish sorts at KWH -- the cravings of her literary psyche thus fulfilled. A poet and self-proclaimed logomaniac, like a true nerd she never leaves home without her faithful Webster Collegiate electronic dictionary in tow. A peek into Kaegan's world (mind, dorm room, monstrous purse) is often dizzying in its excess; bohemian eclecticism reigns her tastes from gelato and Russian history to Frida, Borges, and the latest issue of Vogue. As per her fashion fetishes and health-food junkiedom, you'll typically find Kaegan in gargantuan earrings and impossible shoes munching on soy beans, pine nuts, dried cranberries, or the like. Fired by the muses of modern art, black holes and parallel universes, coffeehouse conversations, higher mathematics, indie films and demigods of the written word, she's a head case of intellectual wanderlust...and sometimes just a head case in general. Oh, yes. And she really really really likes peacocks. REALLY. And the word "orchidaceous."

Michael Thomas Vassallo --- Program Assistant

Michael Thomas Vassallo

Michael Thomas Vassallo (aka Michael Tom, Tom, MTV, etc.) grew up in Roxborough in Northwest Philly, spending a lot of time shopping at the Salvation Army and eating at a diner in a graveyard. At Penn, he studies film, and is particularly interested in the French New Wave and trashy horror movies. Escaping his obligatory time as a pretentious and disgruntled video store employee, Michael Tom now works at the Writers House. At any given time, he can most likely be found spending way too much money at a coffee shop somewhere in University City.