Dead Parents Society is a series from the Kelly Writers House about writing about the loss of a parent, hosted by University of Pennsylvania creative writing instructor Jamie-Lee Josselyn. We are particularly interested in emerging writers who experienced their loss at a young age and whose writing and world view have been shaped, at least in part, by this. Our goal is to have frank, open conversation on a topic that many of us learned to be quiet or guarded about.
Episode 20: Isabella Simonetti's reflection on writing about loss during a pandemic
Isabella Simonetti, a current student at the University of Pennsylvania and the President of The Daily Pennsylvanian, joins Jamie-Lee for DPS's first Zoom episode. They discuss the writing Isabella has produced in an independent study at Penn about her mother's death from breast cancer, and how the scope of this work changed when the semester suddenly went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Episode 19: Gianna DeMedio on "Sixty-Three" and So Sorry For Your Loss
Gianna DeMedio, host of the podcast and blog So Sorry for Your Loss, joins Jamie-Lee to read and discuss her essay "Sixty-Three," about her discovery that several members of her family died at the same age, as well as the ordinary rituals of grief like a visit to the cemetery. She and Jamie-Lee discuss the notion of legacy, the community that comes through writing and podcasting about grief, and more, including how both Gianna and Jamie-Lee reacted to the recent deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter.
Episode 18: DPS featured on "Live at the Writers House" on WXPN
This special episode of Dead Parents Society was recorded before a live audience at the Kelly Writers House and aired on WXPN, the public radio station at the University of Pennsylvania, in November 2019. Hosted as always by Jamie-Lee Josselyn, this episode features work by Emily Harnett, Zoe Osbourne, Gianna DeMedio, and Rachel Levy Lesser. Special thanks to WXPN for this opportunity and for letting us share this recording as a podcast.
Episode 17: Rachel Levy Lesser on "Hair Pulled Back in a Twilly"
Rachel Levy Lesser, author of Life's Accessories: A Memoir and Fashion Guide, joins Jamie-Lee and Darcy Walker Krause, Executive Director of the Uplift Center for Grieving Children. The three of them discuss an essay from Rachel's new collection called "Hair Pulled Back in a Twilly," which is about not just Rachel's loss of her mother and the immediate aftermath, but about how and what we remember, how we can give and get support in grief, and what purpose a simple object can serve as me move forward.
Episode 16: Molly O'Neill on "Parts of a Life""
Molly O'Neill, a Los Angeles-based yoga instructor, writer, and longtime friend of the Kelly Writers House community reads from her essay "Parts of a Life" from YogaPoetica.com and discusses the piece with Jamie-Lee and DPS brilliant pal Anna Strong Safford. In their conversation, they discuss how teaching and practicing yoga integrated into Molly's grief of her father's death from Parkinson's Disease, and how writing factors in as well.
Episode 15: Solomon Mussing on "Letter to My Father"
Solomon Mussing, who also goes by the name L'Hussen Toure, an alum of the Summer Workshop for Young Writers at the Kelly Writers House, talks with Jamie-Lee about his piece "Letter to My Father," a memoir in the style of direct-address that he wrote to his father, who died by suicide. They discuss the obvious, unflinching directness of the mode, the way a writer considers his reader in this style, the risks involved in such a piece, and more.