Jawnts: Getting into poetry scene

The Kelly Writers House is tucked away in a little corner of the University of Pennsylvania's Locust Walk, a little Gothic cottage shrouded by low-hanging trees.

It used to be the home of the university chaplain, but English professor Al Filreis took it over in 1995. With the help of a $1 million grant, he renovated it into the cozy nook of today that hosts everything from nonfiction workshops to student presentations of their semester-long engagement with whichever literary form they're grappling with.

On Thursday, the latest iteration of a periodic poetry series - "Whenever We Feel Like It" - will be held in the cottage's Arts Café (i.e.: the front room). Michelle Taransky Kleiman hosts most of the readings, which she started with a fellow student while attending the renowned Iowa Writers Workshop in 2007.

Kleiman usually pairs younger writers and college students, who usually open, with more established poets. This week's reading is an exception, featuring two Philly poets: Ryan Eckes, whose latest collection Valu-Plus was just released, and Chris McCreary, co-founder of ixnay press, which publishes many local poets.

"When I listen to both of them read, I get new ideas, they invent images I have never thought of," says Kleiman. "It's like being in a room with a lot of electricity."

The event is a good opportunity to get acquainted with the Philadelphia poetry scene. (Travis McDonald recently told Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, "I honestly believe there is no better place in the world to be a poet at this moment.") Kleiman enthusiastically agrees, describing it as both an experimental culture and a particularly warm one, not an attribute generally associated with literati of any regional affiliation.

The Kelly Writers House and "Whenever We Feel Like It" are both open to the public, no Penn card required for entrance. All readings are recorded in audio and video format, and later made available online.

Thursday's reading at Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk, will begin at 6 p.m. Admittance is free. For more information, visit www.writing.upenn.edu/wh.

Have an event for Jawnts? jake.blumgart5@gmail.com @jblumgart