The Pen Parentis Literary Salon is a unique Downtown series that shatters parental stereotypes as it celebrates the diverse creative work of writers that are also parents. On the second Tuesday of each month September through May, join us at 75 Wall Street (Andaz Wall Street). Each night begins with networking over wine, compliments of Andaz Wall Street. Readings are followed by Q&A moderated by Pen Parentis founder M. M. De Voe and Salons curator Christina Chiu. Each event ends with mingling and book signings. Come join the fun!  Pen Parentis Literary Salons are a great place to meet book-loving neighbors as well as industry notables. You don’t have to be a parent or even a writer to enjoy these events – join us!

See below for details of who is reading next and to RSVP!

October – December 2017

Modern Family at the Pen Parentis Literary Salon
Oct 10 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Tuesday, October 10th at 7pm, Pen Parentis Literary Salons brings together three authors representing variously “modern” families—Lori Jakiela, Sheila Sweeny Higginson, and Ami Sands Brodoff—who will present readings from their new works followed by a panel discussion about writing and the contemporary family unit moderated by Columbia University MFA alumnae Christina Chiu and M. M. De Voe in the prestigious downtown hotel Andaz Wall Street.



Sheila Sweeny Higginson is an award-winning author who has worked in children’s and educational media for over twenty years. She has written more than 100 books for children, magazine and Web articles for parents and teens, teacher’s guides, plays, and scripts. She will speak to her interracial marriage and what she has learned as the white mother of black children. Sheila lives with her husband Felipe and their two children in Brooklyn, New York, on the same street where she grew up playing manhunt and stickball.
Ami Sands-Brodoff is the author of three novels and a volume of stories. Her second novel, “The White Space Between” won The Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. Her latest, “In Many Waters,” grapples with the current refugee crisis and the making and remaking of families. She is the proud mom of a gay son and a transgender son and her life as a mom has been “a joyous roller-coaster ride.” Visit her website:

Lori Jakiela is the author of the memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe, which received the 2016 Saroyan Prize for International Literature from Stanford University, was a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award and the Housatonic Literary Award, and named one of 2015’s Not-to-Miss Books of Nonfiction by The Huffington Post. Jakiela is the author of an essay collection, Portrait of the Artist as a Bingo Worker, as well as two other memoirs — Miss New York Has Everything and The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious. She is also the author of the poetry collection (Spot the Terrorist) and several limited-edition poetry chapbooks. Her latest poetry chapbook, Big Fish, was published in 2016. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Rumpus, Brevity and more. Her essays have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize many times, and she received the 2015 City of Asylum Pittsburgh Prize, which sent her to Brussels, Belgium on a month-long writing residency. She has also received a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, was a working-scholar at The Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and was the winner of the first-ever Pittsburgh Literary Death Match. A former flight attendant and journalist, she now directs the undergraduate writing program at The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, where she is Professor of English and Creative/Professional Writing. She is a co-director of Chautauqua Institution’s Summer Writers Festival, teaches community writing workshops at a yoga studio in her hometown of Trafford, Pa., and curates the Saturday Poem feature at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, the writer Dave Newman, and their children. She will speak to the experiences of adoption.

November’s Salon: Health Matters
Nov 14 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Featured authors:

Michael Greenberg, Joanne Jacobson, and Diana Geffner-Ventura

Michael Greenberg’s memoir, Hurry Down Sunshine, has been translated into eighteen languages and was named a best book of the year by Time Magazine, Library Journal and  A collection of his “intrepid, darkly comic” essays, Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life, was published in 2009. From 2003-2009, Greenberg wrote the “Freelance” column in the Times Literary Supplement. In 2010-2012 he was the author and creator of “The Accidentalist” column in Bookforum.  He teaches in the MFA program at Columbia University and is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, where he writes about literature, politics and New York.

His eldest son lives in Myanmar in Southeast Asia, his daughter lives in rural Vermont, and his “baby” son is about to depart for college in Minnesota – which will leaves Michael both bereft and at peace in his eerily silent Brooklyn home. This is his first appearance at our Salons.

Diana Geffner-Ventura has been writing since she held her first #2 pencil, and has been published in on-line magazines including Brick Underground, Purple Clover, Prime Number, and Culture Catch, and most recently, on her kitchen Dry-Erase board. After receiving her degree in Journalism at New York University, she worked in advertising, dabbled in stand-up comedy, traveled around the world and worked for many years in theatrical production and performing arts management. Diana also sells real estate, and she is currently writing a memoir about life, love, family, oh, and cancer. She lives in Manhattan with her dog and her two beautiful sons, both who are still in school and on her payroll. First time on our stage.

Joanne Jacobson is a Chicago native, transplanted New Yorker, academic turned writer of creative nonfiction.  She holds a doctorate in American Studies, and her scholarly writing—a 1992 monograph on the politics of letter writing in the turn-of-the-century U.S., Authority and Alliance in the Letters of Henry Adams, and a series of critical essays in such publications as The Nation and Massachusetts Review—has focused on American autobiographical forms.  Her 2007 memoir, Hunger Artist: A Suburban Childhood, evokes the unraveling of one middle-class family’s hopes of starting fresh on post-World War II suburban ground; essays from it have been published in New England Review, BOMB, and Alimentum, among other journals.  Her current book project, Extraordinary Time, is an exploration of chronic illness and its disruptions of time and identity; work from it has appeared most recently in Southwest Review, Tampa Review, Florida Review, New England Review, and Gulf Coast.  Jacobson has taught at the University of Iowa; the University of Angers, France (as a Fulbright lecturer); Middlebury College; and Yeshiva College, where she is Professor of English and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Click HERE to RSVP.

Holiday Author Mingle – Miracle in Lower Manhattan
Dec 12 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Bringing their successful 16th Season to a close on Tuesday, December 12th at 7pm, Pen Parentis hosts its annual Holiday Author Mingle. Three distinguished alumni of the Salons—noted novelists René Steinke, Ellen Umansky, and John Reed—will present readings from their newest works followed by the characteristic highly-entertaining discussion about literature, life-work-balance, and other contemporary topics. Celebrated Jazz/Latin guitarist Wilson Montuori will entertain with live music, and as a special treat for the holidays, Pen Parentis Founder M. M. De Voe will be joined by celebrity guest-host Leigh Newman to moderate the conversation. 

FREE TICKETS ARE LIMITED, please RSVP through this link.


Ellen Umansky has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of venues, including the New York TimesSalonPlayboy, and the short-story anthologies Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge and Sleepaway: Writings on Summer Camp. She has worked in the editorial departments of several publications, including the ForwardTablet, and The New Yorker. She grew up in Los Angeles, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. (author photo: Sam Zalutsky)

René Steinke is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her most recent novel, Friendswood (Riverhead), was named one of National Public Radio’s “Great Reads” of 2014. Friendswood was shortlisted for the St. Francis Literary Prize, and it was an Amazon Book of the Month. Her previous novel, Holy Skirts, an imaginative retelling of the life of the artist and provocateur, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, was a Finalist for the National Book Award. Her first novel is The Fires. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, O Magazine, Redbook, Houstonia, Salon, Bookforum, and in anthologies. She is the former Editor of The Literary Review, where she remains Editor-at-Large. She has taught at the New School and at Columbia University, and she is currently the Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. (author photo: Michelle Ocampo)

John Reed is author of the novels, A Still Small VoiceThe Whole, and the SPD bestseller, Snowball’s Chance; additional books: All The World’s A Grave: A New Play By William ShakespeareTales of Woe; and Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems; fellowship Columbia University; MFA in Creative Writing, Columbia University; Artnetthe Brooklyn Rail, Tin HousePaper MagazineArtforum, HyperallergicBomb MagazineArt in America, the PEN Poetry Series, the Los Angeles Times, the Believer, the Rumpusthe Daily Beast, GawkerSlate, the Paris Review, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street JournalElectricLit, ViceThe New York TimesHarpers; anthologized in Best American Essays, Devouring the Green, StoryScape Anthology V2, American Wasteland, The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology, Vitamin PH, 100 Greatest Albums (VH1); Vice Magazine “Employee of the Month,” Longform’s #1 Most Entertaining Essay; works translated into German, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Latvian and others; performances, workshops and readings of plays in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas, including at the Public Theater in NYC and the Brooklyn Books Festival; two-term member of the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle; current faculty at The New School University and The New York Arts Program. He’s a decently cool dad. (author photo: David Shankbone)


Leigh Newman is the books editor of and editor-at-large at Catapult Publishing. Her memoir about Alaska Still Points North (Dial Press) was a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle John Leonard Prize. Her fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in One StoryTin House, The New York TimesFiction, New York TyrantVogue, O The Oprah Magazine, Bookforum,and others. She has received fellowships from Breadloaf and the Corporation of Yaddo. She has also read for Pen Parentis – where she premiered the manuscript for her award-winning memoir. We love her: she’s a literary powerhouse and she’s a Pen Parentis mom. (photo by: Sioux Nesi)


Wilson Montuori is a versatile guitarist who performs styles ranging from pop/rock, world, and jazz to classical music. He has recorded for many labels, including Universal Records, Sony Music, Def. Japan, and many more and has performed throughout the world with various musical ensembles. Recipient of the prestigious “Sidney Zolot Award” from City College, and a Masters in Music from Boston University. His compositions are also displayed in the soundtrack for the 2015 feature film “Shelter”.