In anticipation of our dedication ceremony on October 22, 2004, some of the people who were most involved in the creation of the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House were asked to join in a group composition of a celebratory poem. This poem, which we call a renga, is loosely based upon the Japanese renku, a serial poem made up of a series of shorter poems such as haiku. Our renga consists of single lines or short sections of other pieces of writing, each of which has been chosen by our invited readers for the occasion of the dedication of the Writers House. Each selection has come from a poem, a story, a song, a film, a children’s book—any source the contributor chose. It may be serious or funny or both. It may have been written by the contributor or quoted from another writer, and it may be about houses, creativity, writing, reading or none of the above. The renga is the sum of whatever these friends have chosen to say to commemorate the founding of the house. During the dedication, the contributors will read their pieces of the renga aloud, led by Franklin & Marshall student and Writers House community member, Jacob Kerner ’06.
Ryan Speir ‘06
if you're just staring at your walls, observing echoing footfalls
from tenants wandering distant halls, then this one is for you
all alone the life you lead, a silent diner where you feed
bow your head pretend to read, this one is for you
—Phish, “Brian and Robert”
Katie Gillenson ‘06
They say the heart of the earth is made of fire. It is held imprisoned and
silent. But at times it breaks through the clay, the iron, the granite, and
shoots out to freedom. Then it becomes a thing like this.
—Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Adam Cogbill ‘07
I want a house that lifts itself from the ground. It will have corners for secrets and a niche for the intimate glance.
Brian Hard P’01, P’03
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Sara Ritter '05
Now for the socially fruitful meditation, which has filled this noble building here: when writers meditate, they don't pick bland, meaningless mantras to say over and over to themselves. They pick mantras that are hot and prickly, full of the sizzle and jingle-jangle of life. They jazz the heck out of their inner beings with the mantras they pick.
Susan Kline Klehr ’73:
Thought flys and words go on foot. Therein lies all the drama of a writer.
Tineka Lebrun, Program Coordinator, Philadelphia Alumni Writers House
Comme avant une fête
Se préparer de tout son être
a la grave rencontre du silence et de la voix
Margarita Delcheva ‘07
But today is not the same.
Ideas are stuck in my brain,
As I sit and think, think,
think of something lame.
And it is to my simple shock,
That I have no ideas in stock,
For today I'm afraid I'm stuck, stuck,
Stuck in a writer's block.
Rick Kent, Associate Professor, Art & Art History
The pleasure a writer knows is the pleasure all sages enjoy.
Out of non-being, being is born; out of silence, the writer
In a single yard of silk, infinite space is found---
the way language can become a great river that flows
from one small corner of the heart.
From Lu Ji’s Wenfu (The Art of Writing), 3rd c. CE
Dobri Dotov ‘07
Here I am - breathing,
and writing my poetry
(my best of it giving).
Life and I glower
across at each other,
and with it I struggle
with all my power.
Nicholas Montemarano, Assistant Professor, English
these words no one was paid to write
that live with us for a while
in a small container
on the ledge where the light enters
—Tom Wayman, “What Good Poems Are For”
Stefanie B. Valar, Senior Development Officer, Development
Writing is the enemy of forgetfulness, of thoughtlessness. For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory.
Jill Colford Schoeniger ‘86
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Anna Melville ‘05
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Amelia Rauser, Associate Professor, Art & Art History
Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
—Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers
Bruce Pipes, Provost/Dean of Faculty, Office of Provost, Professor of Physics
The things I like best in T. S. Eliot's poetry, especially in the Four Quartets, are the semicolons. You cannot hear them, but they are there, laying out the connections between the images and the ideas. Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at the bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit a moment, catching your breath.
—Lewis Thomas, from his essay Notes on Punctuation in his collection of essays titled The Medusa and the Snail
Lisa Stillwell, Information Literacy Librarian
Reading, that pleasure at once ardent and sedate...during which countless sensations of poetry and of a confused well-being wing cheerfully up from the depths of our good health to create a pleasure as sweet and as golden as honey around the reader's reverie.
—Marcel Proust, “On Reading”
Barbara Heisey, Interior Design Studio
The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who can’t read. Knowledge is the gateway for growth.
Andrew M. Rouse ‘49
At present, I said, the students of philosophy are quite young; beginning when they are barely past childhood, they devote only the time saved from moneymaking and house-keeping to such pursuits; and even those of them who are reputed to have the most philosophic spirit, when they come within sight of the great difficulty of the subject…take themselves off. [Later] when invited by someone else, they may perhaps go and hear a lecture, and about this they make much ado, for philosophy is not considered by them to be their proper business: at last when they grow old, in most cases they are extinguished like [Heracleitus’] sun, inasmuch as they never light up again.
—Plato, Book VI of The Republic, Socrates in conversation with Glaucon
Timothy Sipe, Associate Professor, Biology
But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us -- to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
—Matthew Arnold, “The Buried Life”
Christopher Jacques ‘06
True literature can exist only where it is created not by diligent and
trustworthy officials, but by madmen, heretics, dreamers, rebels and skeptics."
—Evgeny Zamyatin, "I am afraid" (1921)
Alexandra Racines ‘07
Musician, athlete and student politician. That's quite a combination. See, you
are pretty special.
—"The Not So Average Joe"
Michael Walker ‘70
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a person’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
Rebecca Brown ‘05
Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
—Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Wendy H. Tippetts ’78, Architect, Tippetts & Weaver
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Joel Eigen, Charles A. Dana Professor, Sociology
If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I'd live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You'd see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the roll of Honour, 'Poor young chap.'
I'd say—'I used to know his father well;
Yes, we've lost heavily in this last scrap'
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I'd toddle safely home and die—in bed.
—Siegfried Sassoon, “Base Details”
Jacob Kerner ‘06
come writers and critics
who prophesize with your pen
and keep your eyes wide
the chance wont come again
and dont speak too soon
for the wheels still in spin
and theres no tellin who
that its namin.
for the loser now will be later to win
for the times they are a changin."
—Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin’”
Timothy Schwab ‘08
The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
—William Faulkner, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech
Eranda Jayawickreme ‘05
[T]he history of humanity and the history of the novel are two very different things. The former is not man’s to determine, it takes over like an alien force he cannot control, whereas the history of the novel…is born of man’s freedom,…of his own choices….Because of its personal nature, the history of an art is a revenge by man against the impersonality of the history of humanity.
Ann Steiner, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Office of Provost, Professor of Classics
There is a time when it is for winds that humankind has greatest need;
There is a time when it is for the waters of heaven,
the stormy children of clouds.
But if through hard work someone might do nobly,
Honey-voiced hymns arise as a beginning for later words
and are the trustworthy pledge of great excellence.
—First Strophe, Pindar's Eleventh Olympian Ode, To the Winner of the Boys' Boxing Competition, 476 B.C.
Andy Welsh, Director, Capital Management Program
An architect or engineer is said to be a person who knows a very little about a
great deal and keeps knowing less and less about more and more until he knows
practically nothing about everything, whereas on the other hand a contractor is
a person who knows a great deal about very little and who goes along knowing
more and more about less and less until finally he knows practically everything
about nothing. An owner starts out knowing practically everything about
everything, but ends up by knowing nothing about anything, due to his
association with architects, engineers and contractors.
Peter-Ayers Tarantino, Historic Design Resources
Taste clips the wings of genius.
That was your first house, a red and white bungalow, leaky, and we
lived there less than a year. This was where you learned to walk,
tasted snow, hid in an empty carton of scotch. Here is the house
where you blew fires to life with bellows.
—Floyd Skloot, “Kaleidoscope”
Kerry Sherin Wright, Director, Philadelphia Alumni Writers House
I'm not talking about poverty exactly but not
having, why have it's such
an illusion, and the body-self such a shadowy fragile house—
Go in and find that room that secret
—Alice Notley, “Mysteries of Small Houses”
Lauren Paustian ’05
If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.
Tamara Goeglein, Associate Professor, English
'"Teehee!" quod she, and clapte the wyndow to'
—Alison to Absolon, from Geoffrey Chaucer, Miller's Tale
Patricia O’Hara, Professor, English
You that would judge me, do not judge alone
This book or that, come to this hallowed place
...[and] look thereon...[and]
Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.
—William Butler Yeats, “The Municipal Gallery Revisited”
Ryan Jones ‘06
Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person; and the dwelling house was a substitute for the mother's womb, the first lodging, for which in all likelihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease.
—Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents
Aaron Kimmel ‘05
Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.
Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx), A Night at the Opera
Kate Jakobsone ‘05
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
—Dorothy, from The Wizard of Oz