KWH staff

Kelly Writers House Staff 2008-2009

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.

Faculty Director: Al Filreis

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.

Director: Jessica Lowenthal

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.

Program Coordinator: Erin Gautsche

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.

Assistant to the Director: Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky was born in Camden, NJ, received a BA from The University of Chicago, an MFA from The Iowa Writers' Workshop, worked as Programs Coordinator at The Poetry Center of Chicago, was a resident at Wave Books' Poetry Farm, and taught creative writing and poetry workshops at The University of Iowa, The Iowa Young Writers' Studio and public schools and libraries in and around Chicago. She likes poetry that wears gold leggings. She likes poetries that disrupt business as usual. She likes dwelling in possibility at the Writers House best of all.

Administrative Assistant: Elizabeth McDonnell

Elizabeth McDonnell

Elizabeth McDonnell has a BA in poetry from Franklin & Marshall College and is a candidate for an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University. She likes: discussing marine life, Icelandic bands, connecting, raising money for and participating in an annual 60 mile walk to fight breast cancer, discovering new authors, power yoga, all things turquoise, and going hiking in Valley Green. She dislikes: the feel of wooden spoons, ankles, words that end in "let" and humidity.

Administrative Assistant: Allison Harris

Allison Harris

Allison Harris is a Philadelphia native with an excess of hometown pride. When she is not running up the art museum steps, eating soft pretzels, or screaming to her neighbors down the street, she works on a collaborative fiction project called The Dolphin Tavern, and makes music videos. She was awarded the Leeway Foundation's Art and Change grant in 2008, and has a BA from the University of Washington. She loves the Writers House.

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

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn grew up in Epping, New Hampshire, but now lives in a West Philadelphia studio apartment with her cat Alfred J. Pancake, who goes by "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. When not in her third floor office at the Writers House, Jamie-Lee is probably at her usual coffee shop. Or she's out running. Or she's eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich in Clark Park. Or she's trying to decide if she should go to Quizo this week. Or she's watching Letterman.

Assistant Director for Development: John Carroll

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.

Multimedia Assistant: Michael Thomas Vassallo

Michael Thomas Vassallo

A recent Penn graduate, Michael Thomas Vassallo has returned to working at the Writers House to perform all manner of tedious and repetitive tasks involving computers, digital recordings and outdated tape formats. He enjoys caffeine, horror films, basement shows, the French New Wave, flannel, and alternating between love and hate for both Philadelphia and contemporary art. He also enjoys properly wrapped, untangled XLR cables, and would be happy to show you his preferred method of organization.

Program Assistant: Andrea Amanullah

Andrea Amanullah

Andrea, an extra-young freshman in the College, the offspring of a kicked-out Penn "alumnus," an eternal optimist and philosophizer, has come to believe she can: find something edible, if not almost appetizing, in all of the University's dining halls; play Guitar Hero/Rock Band more skillfully, or at the very least, more enthusiastically than most others on campus; find a use for the extensive knowledge of "rat sex" gained in Paul Rozin's Psych 001 class... eventually; turn any innocent joke into something mildly/extremely inappropriate; appear, at once, shy and outgoing, quiet and loud, warm and standoffish, especially to strangers; learn how to study for the first time in her life; make a (very) long distance relationship work; get into medical school upon graduating; eventually, after toiling and laboring and sweating and working and stressing... and worrying and loving and losing and hoping and dreaming... and sneezing and hiccupping and sleeping and wheezing... and learning and forgetting and remembering and blacking out... live the life of riley.

Program Assistant: Sarah Arkebauer

Sarah ArkebauerSarah Arkebauer grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, which means that her interests include (but are not limited to) an intense love of Husker football. This is our year. Outside of speculating on the football season, she spent her summer attempting to watch every Kevin Spacey movie ever made. She also enjoys StumbleUpon, silk, cotton, and books for children.

Program Assistant: John Bang

John Bang

John Bang likes reading and writing. He wants to major in English. He was reported to have said, "I enjoy playing tennis and ping-pong." In his leisure time he can be found procrastinating or doing whatever makes him happy.

Web Assistant: Jillian Blazejewski

Jillian Blazejewski

In my spare time, I enjoy holding friends' cell phones, sticking it to the man with first person self-descriptions, and crumbling under the immense pressure of composing a witty Writers House bio.

Program Assistant: Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris is a freshman in the college of arts and sciences. During the early years of her life, her Polish father and Malaysian mother were very indecisive, and consequently dragged her back and forth over the Canadian border several times before finally settling in Newtown, Pennsylvania. There she did 11 years of getting older before she packed and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived by herself for a year. Though Amaris misses the gorges and landscapes of Ithaca daily, Penn's squirrels have helped her feel right at home: they are just as possessed. In her free time, (whatever "free" is supposed to mean) she enjoys overthinking to extremely unhealthy levels, reading about mood disorders (to which she can probably relate), and screeching along to the incomprehensible lyrics of the brilliant Joanna Newsom. In addition, she loves zen, psychology, and theatre, and is presently addicted to all things Sylvia Plath.

Program Assistant: Florentina Dragulescu

Florentina Dragulescu Florentina is the freshest freshman you can find in this campus. New to college-life, Penn, Philadelphia and America, she is a walking form of culture shock, intrigued by a thousand new things each day. She's also the luckiest international student in the campus, being the only one fortunate enough to work at the Kelly Writers House. Coming from Romania, the country where everybody is born a poet, she fell in love with words at a young age and never fell out. She's addicted to Charles Bukowski's poems and to Anais Nin's diaries, which she read and re-read too many times. Her interests range from French Culture and Literature to gymnastics, to media issues and social matters, feminist theories and retail therapy. Here at Penn, Florentina is studying Communications and the awkward and rather disturbing behavior of Penn's squirrels.

Archivist: Violette Carb

Violette Carb

Violette Jacqueline Grace Carb (2011) is happiest while cavorting in cemeteries. Born in 1858 to a cheese maker, she yearns to bring back the bustle. After being dropped on the head repeatedly as a child, she is now daft enough to take harpsichord lessons. She enjoys writing fiction, but has the terrible grammar and spelling of a native-born English speaker. Violette is a fervent believer in the visions of the Blessed Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy.

Program Assistant: Nelson Fernandez

Nelson Fernandez

Nelson is a junior enrolled in The College of Arts and Sciences majoring in cognitive science with a minor in consumer psychology. He resides in South Pasadena, California and does not enjoy the weather in Pennsylvania. The coldness is especially difficult to cope with after breaks when he returns to Philadelphia after enjoying the southern California sunshine. His interests include but are not limited to music, sports, socializing and all kinds of sweet things. Nelson just joined the work force at the Writers House and is looking forward to a positive experience here.

Program Assistant: Rivka Fogel

Rivka Fogel The Behrman Scholar at the House, Rivka is a sophomore in the College. She is minoring in philosophy and majoring in english with an emphasis on creative writing. She writes a lot of poetry, and does no math. She has no exams; she compiles portfolios instead, and has fun. Also, she has Spongebob slippers. One of them is missing a nose.

PR Assistant: Thomson Guster

Thomson Guster

Thomson Guster is in the business of making friends.

Program Assistant and Flyer Maker: Lee Huttner

Lee Huttner

Hwæt! The Kelly Writeres House hath neuere y-seen þe likes of Lee "Grand Cheualier" Huttner. A mediæualist with a passioun for þe langage of Middle Englisshe, Lee findes himself þe onlye membere of þe staffe interested yn suche olde literature. But þat is a sacrifice þat must be y-made. Þat churle William Carlos Williams pales yn comparisoun to þe maistre of wordes, Geoffrey Chaucer. Giue thankes unto Kyng and Countrie þat suche a man y-lyued upon þis earthe. Muche of Lee's tyme ys y-spent promoting and promulgating þe workes of þe Olde Maisters, which he fyndes muchelie disregarded amongst þese fikkle peple. He also, upon occasioun, illuminateth wyth grete beautee flyeres which do heralde future programmes at þe House. He also can maketh a mene cake. Go Engellonde!

Program Assistant: James LaMarre

James LaMarre

James grew up in Salt Lake City, where he learned about the perils of talking to strangers and swimming in deep water. He reads about found poetry, pop music, and installation art and tries to keep up on his thoughts of coming of age. He's an English major trying to learn Chinese, and constantly wants to get on a plane and go somewhere. Other than that, please join him over lunch or dinner because he likes to eat and loves to eat in the company of others.

New Media Documentarian: Kathryn Lipman

Kathryn Lipman

Kathryn Lipman is mostly but not exclusively interested in fictionalized accounts of the life and times of Charles Starkweather (November 24, 1938 - June 25, 1959), an infamous spree killer who claimed 11 victims during a road trip with his girlfriend Carol. His story captured the minds and hearts of generations of Americans through films like The Sadist, Badlands, Natural Born Killers, Starkweather, and Wild At Heart. If the story of Charles Starkweather tells us anything, it's that certain kinds of sunglasses, when worn in a dark and dangerous way, allow one to see clearly the price that must be paid in order to escape from the modern world.

Project Assistant: Kristen Martin

Kristen Martin

Kristen Martin, a freshman in the College, was raised on Long Island, but now resides in the armpit of the nation-New Jersey. At the Writers House, Kristen can be found labeling envelopes, folding letters, stuffing envelopes, sealing envelopes, and delving into the Matrix. When she's not nursing her envelope-inflicted paper cuts, Kristen enjoys eating, journalism, the color green and ballet. But mostly, she just eats a lot. Seriously, give her food and she'll be your best friend.

Night Manager: Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz is currently Swiss. Inquire for further details.

Books and Publications Manager: Zachary Smith Ferris

zach is so emo

I had a conversation with Jesus about my bio:
"Jesus?" I said. "Can you help me write my bio?"
Jesus said "Yep."
"I find it really hard to write bios. I always feel an enormous amount of pressure to be sparkling and original."
He gave me this withering sort of look.
"Being clever in your bio does not make you sparkling and original. It can only give you the appearance of sparkling originality... And I'm really not that big on appearances.
I said "..."
"Also, you should reconcile yourself to the fact that you will never actually be sparkling. That is reserved for the bioluminescent fauna."

We were silent. I thought about what makes me who I am, and I thought about our culture's preoccupation with manufacturing image—my own tendency to get hung up on what I look like, rather than who I am.

"So..." I finally asked, "Can I be original?"
"Like a beautiful snowflake?"
"Like a beautiful snowflake."

Gallery Curator and Calendar Designer: Kaegan Sparks

Kaegan Sparks

glitterati |ˌglitəˈrätē|
plural noun informal
ORIGIN 1950s: blend of glitter and literati.

Kaegan likes cheekbones & blank motifs.

Program Assistant: Chaia Werger

Chaia Werger

Chaia has no idea what she's going to wear tomorrow or what she plans to major in. She does not have a favorite color, food, or musical artist. Contrary to popular belief, Chaia is not sixteen, European, or Jewish, and has no affiliation with the popular unwanted house gift, the Chia pet. When not at the Writer's house, Chaia can be found tearfully watching re-runs of sappy reality television shows, discussing the meaning of human existence, sweating profusely at field hockey practice, taking pictures of dead squirrels in Solo cups for the blog she writes for the DP, or apologizing for an inappropriate comment that she made moments before.