Penn's Creative Writing Program will host an honors thesis reading event on April 27 to celebrate the graduating seniors in the 2022 honors program.
The event will take place at the Kelly Writers House Arts Cafe, with a virtual option available. The honors program's nine graduating seniors will present excerpts from their Creative Writing thesis projects — which include a mix of long-form creative literary works in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, and other genres that serve as "the capstone" of their Penn writing careers.
“It’s a great opportunity to not only hear their work but also to listen to some really beautiful and meaningful introductions to their work by our dedicated faculty advisors that have been working closely with these seniors all semester long,” Creative Writing Program Director Julia Bloch said.
Among the presenters will be College senior Lulu Lipman, with her thesis project on “Growing Pain," an excerpt from a young adult novel she is working on about the struggles of a girl who attends a prestigious East Coast boarding school.
“I went to boarding school myself and it was a crazy, transformative experience. And I always knew I wanted to write about it in some capacity, and the thesis gave me the perfect opportunity to delve into my experience," Lipman said.
Senior Alexander Sully Burns will also be presenting his short story titled “Invisible Mending,” which he said encapsulates his love for the city of Philadelphia.
“I knew that I wanted Philadelphia to be central to [my project] from the second I started working on my first draft, but I think what was tough for me was finding a way to demonstrate what I love about Philly and bring that through on the page,” Burns said.
Burns's short story includes details of Philadelphia streets and scenery that he gathered from walks around the city.
One of the recipients of the 2022 Presidents Engagement Prize, College senior Max Strickberger, will also share his work at the event.
Strickberger's thesis is based on the project "Generation Pandemic," which he started alongside senior Alan Jinich in fall 2020. Strickberger and Jinich traveled across the country and compiled an archive of pandemic experiences from people ages 18 to 25. Drawing from 80 interviews across 16 states, the Generation Pandemic website hosts collection of oral history narrative pieces and podcasts accompanied by photos and videos from the duo's travels.
Strickberger said his honors thesis will include a ten-page personal essay on his experience creating Generation Pandemic as well as some of the oral histories collected from the project.
“What I really loved about the thesis was that it gave me the opportunity to go back through journals that I had kept when we were on the road and explore what was I actually thinking about in those moments," Strickberger said.
The Creative Writing Honors Program reading will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Afterwards, there will be a reception with refreshments in the courtyard. Students who wish to attend in person may RSVP or watch the live stream on YouTube.
“These students have spent their last four years at Penn working on their writing and expanding their horizons and craft. They came to the Honors Program ready to hit the ground running with an ambitious project," Bloch said. “A lot of this work feels like it's ready to join a conversation of professional writing."