Al Filreis

poetry in the mountains

Each year for five years now I and a group of 20 or so Penn alumni have spent three days and two nights at the Straus estate at Frost Valley in the Catskills, studying and discussing modern and contemporary American poetry. And each year a poet--whose work we read--joins us.

a novel of blowtorch intensity

I edited and brought out a new edition of a relatively unknown novel, Ira Wolfert's Tucker's People. The new edition was published by Illinois with my introduction.

the one course I dread teaching

Last fall (autumn 2006) I taught my Holocaust course again. I love teaching the modern and contemporary American poetry course, English 88, and my annual spring Writers House Fellows Seminar, but I can't say I "love" teaching the Holocaust course. Do I feel obliged or committed to do so? Am I part of the "chain of witness"? That seems much too simple.

writing actually as works of art

The Modern Language Association conference was held in Philadelphia last December ('06) and, as usual, the local newspaper feels obliged to cover it. Usually such stories devote most of the space to mockery at arcane, whacky paper topics and seem inevitably to have a jokey, anti-PC, anti-academic tone: how silly, all this.

daughter is to dad as beach is to mountains

Each May, as the families of undergrad seniors come to Philly for their kids' commencement, we hold a celebration to honor a group of students who have been closely--sometimes very closely--affiliated with the Writers House. This year's "senior capstone event" honored 12 seniors.