KWH staff

Kelly Writers House Staff 2011-2012

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 has been the Director of Kelly Writers House since 2005, and an active member of its Planning Committee since 2003. As of 2010 she's the associate publisher of Jacket2. In 2009, Jessica's daughter Alice (pictured, reading spreadsheets) joined the KWH community. Jessica holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop, an MA in English from Penn, and an AB in English from Brown -- and she's putting her education to work daily, directing the activities of this vibrant and experimental literary community. Jessica's reading interests are eclectic: she loves experimental poetry, trashy novels, cookbooks, and the Philly weeklies. Visit Jessica in room 109 (all the way in the back of the house) and you'll find her eager to talk about ways you can get involved in the Writers House community.

Program Coordinator: Erin Gautsche

Erin Gautsche

Erin Gautsche is the Program Coordinator for the Kelly Writers House. She runs the 15th Room Press, a division of the Common Press a collaborative letterpress project at Penn, and co-teaches a class with the design department in writing, letterpress, and artist books. She is a member or the arts advisory board for the /First Person Festival/ and enjoys elite status. A graduate of Goshen College with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she has a MLA from the University of Pennsylvania in post-war poetics, art history, and fiction writing, and has done extensive coursework in Folklore. She has led writing workshops for children in Indiana and Guatemala, and reading and writing groups for adults in Philadelphia, including a KWH alumni online book group. She writes and manages the blogs and Other interests include, but are not limited to: cooking, blogging, progressive urban planning and design, foodways, urban gardening/ farming and local foods, hot pepper jam canning, architectural salvage, fiction and short fiction, Chinese and Spanish cinema, reality television, Top Chef, Toronto, modern art, art nouveau, dinner parties, new restaurants, and international adventures.

Assistant to the Director: Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky

Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, selected by Marjorie Welish for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. Before moving to Philadelphia to work at Kelly Writers House, Taransky received a BA from The University of Chicago, worked as Programs Coordinator at The Poetry Center of Chicago, earned her MFA from The Iowa Writers' Workshop, taught poetry at the Iowa Young Writers Studio, and was a resident at Wave Books' Poetry Farm. She is a member of the Critical Writing Faculty at Penn and an adjunct poetry instructor at Temple University. Taransky is always happy to talk about poetry, glitter, Charles Barkley, or her book-in-progress: Never Quit: The Poetics of Charles Barkley.

Administrative Assistant: Max McKenna

Max McKenna

Max believes that watching oneself pretend to sleep is certainly a privilege of a higher and more esoteric order.

Associate Director for Recruitment: Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Jamie-Lee Josselyn is from Epping, New Hampshire, and has lived in Philadelphia since 2001. She has received a BA from Penn in English and French and an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College. She is working on a collection of personal essays about her mother's life and death. She has taught creative writing in a few places, including at Penn and in St. Paul's School's Advanced Studies Program. When not in her third floor office at the Writers House, you might find Jamie-Lee performing some feat of endurance: running a long way, biking an even longer way, or consuming a massive quantity of food. She has a cat named Alfred J. Pancake whose friends call him "Alfie" and another cat named Bones whose nickname is "Tubby."

Project Assistant: Kristen Martin

Kristen Martin

Kristen is the President of the Lost Boys Club at the Kelly Writers House. She cannot leave this place. In her new position as a research assistant, she lugs books to and from Van Pelt and Fisher Fine Arts, summarizes, writes, eats, photocopies, and scans. She is also Jamie-Lee Josselyn's interior decorator and is known for such works as "Cat Coloring" (2009) and "Barbra Wallpaper" (2010). Outside the office, Kristen enjoys narrative non-fiction writing, Italian food culture, cooking, and (more) eating.

Project Assistant: Molly O'Neill

Molly O'Neill

Molly hails from sunny California but spent the last more-than-several years bouncing up and down the East Coast between schools before finally settling at Penn. Now in her senior year, Molly has infiltrated and inhabited the KWH 3rd floor office and thus has a legitimate reason not to leave after graduation. In her life away from campus, Molly enjoys reading poetry, nonfiction and short stories, bartending, cuddling with her two and a half pit bulls, eating massive amounts of carbohydrates, and drooling over fashion blogs.

Project Associate: Katie L. Price

Katie L. Price is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Apart from her work at the Kelly Writers House, she is an Associate Editor at Electronic Poetry Center, Assistant Editor at Jacket2, and completing a dissertation on the afterlife of pataphysics in contemporary poetry. In 2010-2011 she co-coordinated the Poetry & Poetics graduate group, and in 2011-2012 she co-coordinates the Modernism and 20th Century Studies group at Penn. In April 2012, she is organizing, with Jonathan Fedors, a conference entitled "Poetry Communities and the Individual Talent." Her work has appeared or will appear in Jacket2 and Canadian Literature. When not working, Katie is most likely playing with her dog, Jarry.

Assistant Director for Development: Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse

Arielle Brousse likes making things and listening to people. She roots for Team Pie and Team Feelings and believes you can never have too many blankets. You can find her in her second-floor closet space: obsessing over word choice; shamelessly oversaturating photos of KWH events; teaching herself how to knit; quietly advocating for revolution; or surprising herself with how much she likes reading about microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Someone once told her you can either be a stripes person or a polka dot person and she’s still trying to figure out which she is, so if you have any insight, please do let her know.

Purchasing Librarian: Andrea Amanullah

Andrea Amanullah

Andrea Amanullah is graduating.

Web Assistant: Zachary Burchill

Zach Burchill

Zach Burchill has:
basic knowledge of HTML
rock-hard abs
a twin brother
a horrible sense of humor
blown your mind

Zach's brother, Ned, is:
On the lam

Zach would like to say:

Program Assistant: Violette Carb

Violette Carb

Violette Carb has a complicated relationship with vintage polyester.

Lead Webmaster: Zach Carduner

Zach Carduner

Zach's presence at the Writers House is the sole stroke of good fortune to arise from an otherwise tragic irrigation accident.

Program Assistant: Jenny Chen

Jenny Chen

Jenny Chen's biographical statement was composed by Allison Wattenbarger.

Program Assistant: Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris Cuchanski

Amaris is a junior who has come to rely on the writers house for its many, many gifts: for the best of friends who give the warmest hugs, for Lady Gaga dance parties, pub-room singalongs (notable mention: Jamie-Lee and Arielle's epic rendition of "I Will Always Love You"), for dirty dishes on broken dishwasher nights, late-night brownie bakeathons, kitchen rants, for sympathy, smiles, tissues and tears on all occasions, and all the shining eyes....and for poetry, poetry, poetry forever. The writers house taught me how to live the lines.

Program Assistant: Andie Davidson

Andie Davidson

Andie is a freshman in the College, and though very disappointed to have never received her Hogwarts acceptance letter, is ecstatic to be at Penn and KWH. She wants to major in Communications or English, but her main plan currently is to avoid all things math and science-related. She likes coffee, chocolate, and sushi (though not together), anything vintage or random, anything European (especially French), and parentheses (obviously). In between exploring (or wandering, as her friends would call it) and searching for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, she can usually be found running, reading, or making up stories in her head.

Program Assistant: Florentina Dragulescu

Florentina Dragulescu Florentina is a junior in the College, studying Communication and Public Service, and Legal Studies and History. If we were to believe the many "and"s in her studies, we would say she studies a lot. At the Writers House, you will find her in the Arts Cafe, pushing buttons around and bringing the joy of the Writers House events to the Internet. Florentina is a born and bred Romanian, and is gradually getting used to being asked if she's a gymnast or a vampire, or if she speaks Russian. Niet. If you want to make her happy (and you should), tell her you can't hear her accent. Florentina is one of the Behrman Scholars at the Writers House.

Outreach Assistant: Allyson Even

Allyson Even

Allyson Even hails from the smallest geographic town in the smallest geographic county in the smallest geographic state. This useless fun-fact and the others that follow were written in attempt to comply with the edgy and irreverent nature of most KWH bios... Although compliance is the antithesis of all which is edgy and irreverent. Anyway, Allyson is the outreach coordinator here at the KWH and is super pumped about all things involving urban society, education, literacy, and all genres of creative writing. In addition to writing, reading, learning, and educating, Allyson enjoys Pilates, chain-chewing gum, The Nightly News, Latin American culture, and good conversation.

Program Assistant: Victoria Ford

Victoria Ford

Victoria Ford is a freshman in the college at Penn. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, lives in Greenville, South Carolina and has a hint of a Southern drawl that she hopes (to no avail) can be heard in conversation. She enjoys people watching and petting puppies. And eating. When she grows up she wants to be a writer.

Administrative Assistant: Kate Herzlin

Kate Herzlin Kate is a sophomore at the College, hailing from glorious and scenic Long Island, NY. She's an English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration. And a Theatre Arts Minor... and a Polisci minor. In all of that spare time that she doesn't have, she enjoys looking up words in her Yiddish-English dictionary, finding inspirational Toni Morrison quotes, baking apple cake on Fridays at the Writers House, and watching YouTube videos from Broadway shows. She's a vegetarian too, so she's clearly a better person than you are. Oh...and she's really not that snobby, she swears.

Director Assistant: Ali Kriegsman

Ali Kriegsman

Ali likes falling asleep in the backseats of cars. She enjoys fine cheeses, and therefore refuses to accept her lactose-intolerance. She also refuses to accept the fact that Arrested Development is not her life.

She has very large pupils. And very small hands.

She talks profusely to plug awkward silences but rarely has anything of worth to say. And everyone knows it.

She hails from Los Angeles but desperately seeks "street-cred," and will promptly follow up with "but my mom is from the Bronx."

She's a freshman, a cuddler and a Jew.

Program Assistant: Nadia Laher

Nadia Laher

Nadia is a freshman in the College. She likes smoothies, languages, getting people to like poetry, crossing things off on lists, punny jokes, beautiful days, and laughing till it hurts.

Program Assistant: Gwendolyn Lewis

Gwen Lewis

Gwen is a freshman in the college who, in West Philadelphia, was born and raised. Rather than spending most of her days in the playground, she navigated through the majority of her teenage years pretending to be a Upenn student by frequenting 40th street's restaurants, shopping at The Natural Shoe Store and becoming a pro at smuggling McDonald's into Rave Motion Pictures (formerly and better known as The Bridge). These days, she is finding great pleasure in learning the routes to buildings on campus, other than KWH, making it there on time for class and most of all, being able to repeat it the next day.

Program Assistant: Jack Nessman

Jack Nessman graduated from the same DC public high school as former Whartonite, Warren Buffett. One of them was voted most likely to succeed. The other is the second richest man in the world. Jack enjoys Dickens, Hemingway, Mob Wives, and Pokemon.

Web Assistant: Arielle Pardes

Arielle Pardes

Arielle Pardes is a cheerful young lady who feels particularly affectionate toward cats.

Program Assistant: Erin Peraza

Erin Peraza

Erin is a sophomore in the College. She doesn't know what she's studying yet and, for the love of god, stop asking her.

Program Assistant: Amelia Robertson

Amelia Robertson

Amelia Robertson is a recent graduate of Evergreen State college, with an interdisciplinary degree in Poetry and Philosophy. A sporadic poetry and poetry review blog can be found at Please feel free to contact Amelia with copies of any poetry books you might like to have reviewed.

Program Assistant: Sarah Schwab

Sarah is a freshmen in the College, and hails from Orcutt, California. She enjoys reading old books, petting animals, and exploring new places with friends. If her mind does not change of the course of her college career, she hopes to study Medieval and Renaissance literature, which, in her opinion, is highly underrated by the literary world. When not working at the Writer’s House, studying, or doing stuff with friends, you can find her by the bio pond, feeding koi fish and baby squirrels.

Night Manager: Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz

Peter Schwarz is currently Swiss. Inquire for further details.

Program Assistant: Anastasiya Shekhtman

Anastasiya Shekhtman

Anastasiya likes moody music, hot drinks, and magic things you can see through. These days she wears lots of black and hides under the sky.

Program Assistant: Lindsey Todd

Lindsey ToddLindsey Todd is not witty, not graceful, not hip, not scholarly, can't cornrow (contrary to popular assumption), hates arguing politics, can't stand the smell of tomato sauce, and abhors liars. Lindsey is curious, loquacious, occasionally cynical, adventurous, idealistic, culinarily inclined, clumsy, generous, friendly, loves small furry animals, legitimately adores school, has faith in humanity, and really wishes Nickelodeon was still worth watching.

Program Assistant: Callie Ward

Callie Ward

Program Assistant: Allison Wattenbarger

Allison Wattenbarger

Jenny Chen wrote Allison Wattenbarger's autobiography.

Program Assistant: Hannah White

Hannah White

Hannah White, a sophomore in the College, comes from Crozet, Virginia, where her home is strategically located just blocks from The Best Pizza in Virginia. Aspirations include graduating, getting a cat, and working at a publishing company (or, if that fails, opening a cakewich shop). In her spare time, she enjoys eating oatmeal, talking about pop culture, watching Downton Abbey with Jess Bergman, and worrying.