In a city that was once home to famed poet Edgar Allen Poe and Gothic novelist Charles Brockden Brown, Halloween can take on a particularly literary flavor. “Misdeeds and Little Bones,” a Halloween-themed poetry reading taking place just outside the city at West Laurel Hill Cemetery on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. is no exception.
Suppose An Eyes, the writing group hosting the event, takes its name from a line of poetry by Gertrude Stein, as does the name of the event itself. Although “Misdeeds and Little Bones” is the group’s first formal reading at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, longtime member Pat Green says, “We actually had a quick, spur-of-the moment reading there several years ago where a few of us just gathered at a random grave and read poems, but we had no (living) audience.”
Of course, most of their readings are not in cemeteries, but in the Arts Cafe of their sponsor, the Kelly Writers House. Founded 20 years ago, the Writers House welcomes writers from the Philadelphia area into the folds of its campus community. In addition to hosting programs for Penn students, it also sponsors a number of reading and writing groups open to writers in all stages of their careers. Most are accepting new members.
The groups vary from poetry, songwriting, and all manner of prose, to genre writing (including “Hardboiled, Heavy Hitting, Pulp Fiction detective stories”) and discussion groups for enthusiasts of Lacanian theory and the writing of Virginia Woolf.
One group, the Penn and Pencil Club, which, like Suppose An Eyes, started soon after the establishment of the Writers House itself, has the particular mission of “giving writers from the Penn community a comfortable, welcoming space to share work and get ongoing feedback, as well as opportunities to do public readings,” according to group facilitator and associate director of the Perelman School’s Path BioResource project, Luellen Fletcher. As with both the community-wide and student-dedicated groups, the Penn and Pencil Club draws writers from all disciplines.
For example, Andrew McGhie, another Penn and Pencil Club co-founder and associate director of Penn’s Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, recently wrote a humorous ode to colleague David M. Chenoweth in honor of his discovery of how to engineer stronger collagen, excerpted here: “He took ubiquitous collagen / That one finds far and wide / And substituted for a glycine / In a collagen peptide.”
As a scientific researcher prior to becoming a poet and as someone who once urged a friend to “think of the writing in terms of discovery”—Gertrude Stein would have been pleased.
West Laurel Hill Cemetery is located at The Conservatory, 215 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd. Free parking is available. Costumes are optional.