Student Spotlight with Amanda Silberling

A CREATIVE LIFE: Amanda Silberling is a poet, music journalist, and photographer—an all-around curious person with numerous creative pursuits. A sophomore in the College majoring in English, Silberling says she began focusing on journalism and creative writing during her sophomore year of high school. She joined the school newspaper and participated in a summer writing program at Kenyon College, where she was exposed to contemporary poetry for the first time.

ON PHOTOGRAPHY: When Silberling first came to Philadelphia as a freshman, she says she approached Jamie-Lee Josselyn, associate director for recruitment at Kelly Writers House, for ways she could continue doing music journalism, which she had started in high school. Silberling was connected with the blog Rock On Philly—and writing for that publication led her to try her hand at photography. “This is something I felt would be fun, so I started renting cameras from Van Pelt and taught myself on-the-job how to use a DSLR, which is difficult,” Silberling says. “I took a photography class the spring semester of my freshman year and then I ended up declaring a fine arts minor. So now I’m trying to get more into fine art photography, in addition to photojournalism.”

FOCUS ON POETRY: Poetry remains Silberling’s main focus, and she has had work either published or forthcoming in the Crab Orchard Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Louisville Review, and SOFTBLOW journal. Silberling says she makes sure she never goes too long without putting pen to paper. “It’s really intimidating to just sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write a poem,’ so generally, to have a place to start, in my daily life, sometimes I’ll think of things and be like, ‘That’ll be a cool line in a poem’ and I’ll just write it in my phone,” she says.

SHIFTING THE GAZE: Earlier this semester, Silberling organized and hosted “Shifting the Gaze: Women in Music Panel” at Writers House, which featured an interdisciplinary artist, an electronic engineer, an activist-musician, and two writers, to discuss the women’s music scene in Philadelphia, and ways to make that scene more inclusive. “I wanted to make a panel that was both diverse in the people’s experiences and also in what they do in the music industry,” Silberling says. Now she’s working with one of the panelists, Camae Ayewa, on organizing a show to benefit Girls Rock Philly.

WRITERS HOUSE COMMUNITY: Silberling applied early decision to Penn, and says the selling point was having a place where the University’s artistic community can gather. “The main reasons I was drawn to Penn were wanting the community of the Writers House and knowing that there were a lot of really good poets in the English Department and also, just being in a city,” she says.

WHAT’S NEXT: Silberling continues to write about music for various publications, including Rock On Philly and She Shreds magazine, and will have a poem, “Simultaneous Elegy,” published in the online journal Leveller on Feb. 29.