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The Kenyon Review Newsletter April 2009

Short Fiction Contest

Alexandra Zobel Wins 2009 KR Short Fiction Contest

Alexandra Zobel, a 2008 graduate of Dickinson College currently living in Singapore, has won the second annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest for writers under thirty. Zobel’s story, “The Miles Tape Hypothesis,” was selected by judge Richard Ford from over 300 entries, and will be published in the Fall 2009 issue of The Kenyon Review. Zobel will also receive a scholarship to attend the 2009 Writers Workshop, June 20th to 27th, in Gambier, Ohio. Contest entries were limited to 1200 words or less. In his comments on Zobel’s story, Richard Ford wrote: “Stylish, formally inventive, utterly confident in its grasp on narrative time and historical moment, this story is like a coolly consummate jazz riff on the august subject of failed possibilities redeemed by art.”

“Anchor Point” by Mika Taylor of Austin, Texas, and “A Hypothesis” by Jess Lacher of Brooklyn, New York, were selected as runners-up, and will be published on KROnline.

KR Joins Celebration of National Poetry Month

Poem in your Pocket Day

KR will mark National Poetry Month with a series of readings and other events, including Kenyon College’s second annual “Poem in Your Pocket Day” and a campus-wide contest for visual poetry run by the KR Associates as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Free Verse Project.

As part of its celebration, Kenyon will host a series of readings throughout the month of April in the Kenyon College Bookstore and the Cheever Room of Finn House, KR’s new home:

April 2nd
Diane Glancy and Victor Rodriguez-Nunez (poetry)
4:30pm, Kenyon College Bookstore
April 8th
Elaine Bleakney (participatory reading from

Poem in Your Pocket Day anthology)
7:00pm, Cheever Room
April 14th
Jake Adam York (poetry)
7:30pm, Cheever Room
April 16th
Ander Monson (nonfiction)
7:30pm, Cheever Room
April 20th
Andy Grace (poetry)
7:30pm, Cheever Room
April 21st
Royal Rhodes (poetry)

7:30pm, Cheever Room
April 30th
(Happy Poem in your Pocket Day!)
Sarah Gridley (poetry)
7:30pm, Cheever room


Poem in Your Pocket Day 2008

Poem In Your Pocket Day has been celebrated each April in New York City since 2002. Last year marked the first national celebration, and this year’s celebration coincides with the publication of a anthology entitled Poem In Your Pocket: 200 Poems To Read And Carry, edited by Elaine Bleakney, published by the Academy of American Poets on April 1.
You can find more photos from KR’s 2008 Poem In Your Pocket Day here. For a response to last year’s National Poetry Month celebrations, enjoy Heather Christle’s April 17, 2008 post in the KR Blog.

Artwork credit: Stefan Gunn and the Greater Gambier Screen Printing Society

Photo credit: Kirsten Reach, Kenyon ’08

From KROnline
Cecily Parks

The Introspective Vocabulary

I wear a furtive when I climb up the hill
to deliver the first of the.

Of all of them, the first is the most,
written without hindsight. My blessings

count themselves thusly: if sound
is the prerequisite for searching, if warying

is the prerequisite for laying down with,
if there is something worth facing east for,

then. Extending a single thought has something
to do with the half-shut and the fireplace

filling pails beside a brink. To take my time
coming to (in spite of arrowing triangulation

and every backstory orbiting a thorn) is tricky.
My believing keeps me believing.

An inglenook holds two secrets, one for
each of. My wisteria leads entirely to wisteria.

KROnline is the online version of The Kenyon Review. New fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews are published on a biweekly basis. Check back often to read some of the most cutting edge material you’ll find anywhere on the web. Click here to see our latest offering.

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From the KR Blog

Putting the Work
in Workshop

One virtue of an economic crisis is that it forces everyone to return to basic principles. Profit and loss replace financial instruments, and everyone suddenly has to consider that most fundamental of questions: What do I sell? Newspapers, it turns out, don’t sell news; they sell print advertising, and with the rise of Craig’s List, they find themselves having to weather this storm without the steady stream of classified advertising that sustained them in previous market downturns. Universities, to their surprise and dismay, have had to rediscover that they’re not institutional investors making billions every year off their endowments by speculating in those financial instruments, but institutions of tuition, a word that first means education and only by crude cause and effect the desperately needed payment one gets for it.

KR Writers Workshop

So as we head toward another summer of writing workshops here at KR, I’ve been asking the same basic question: What is it that workshops should offer? What’s their value in a time of economic scarcity? What do we sell?

I went to a few summer workshops back when I was getting started as a writer, and it struck me at the time that most of them were like summer camp with verbs. You got to hang out with writers, drink, flirt, seethe, and, oh yeah, get some comments on the story you wrote back in January. There was more networking than actual work, more pretentious posing than pens scratching on paper. That’s why I was surprised when I first came to Kenyon and discovered that the summer workshops run by The Kenyon Review were described by the students who returned every year as hard work, “bootcamp for writers,” a place where after a morning of workshop, an afternoon of writing and an evening of readings, you might grab a quick drink with friends, but then head back to your room to write. People stay for a week, but they leave with enough rough drafts and new directions to keep them busy for the rest of the year.

Workshops are usually sold on big names: search the websites, and you’ll see plenty of famous writers with glossy photos. There’s no question that those famous faces add glamour to a rural college campus or decommissioned-army-base-turned-arts-center for a few weeks every summer, but that glamour can actually distract from the work by getting everyone focused on the aspects of writing that are out of our control: success, fame, writing as product, rather than process. In my experience, everyone gets competitive around famous writers, anxious to see their own dream of success affirmed by their attention.

Writers Workshop

If we take the idea of a workshop seriously, it’s not a place where you display the finished work you’ve already done—that’s a shop window—or shop around for a famous mentor-lover-drinking buddy who will help to make you famous as well. Instead, it’s more like an artisan’s workshop, a place where we set shoulders to the wheel to get the hard, unglamorous work of writing done, learning our craft by doing it. When people come back year after year to the KR Writer’s Workshop, it’s not for the famous names (although we’ve got our share of glamour), but because the instructors really teach, the writers really write, and the workshop machinery runs hot both day and night.

Am I just blowing our horn? Yeah, sure, but since we’re just about full for this year, I don’t really feel that I need to sell you the goods as much as the good—an idea of a writer’s workshop not as vanity or luxury but as something closer to the machine shop of the creative imagination. The old cliché that many writers use when asked to describe what makes a writer is Writers write. I’ve always been tempted to add—except when they’re around other writers, when they do anything but. That’s why I find it such a pleasure to be in Gambier in June, when writers really write.

Click here to read more blog posts by Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky, associate editor of The Kenyon Review

Click here to view the full range of workshop offerings and to read short biographies of each instructor.

Photo credit: Emily Zeller, Kenyon ’08


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The KR Family Tree

Think of this section as a bulletin from KR in which we brag about the accomplishments of the extended KR family and leave out the gall-bladder surgeries.

Congratulations to the recently announced Pushcart Prize nominees from the pages of The Kenyon Review:

Mary Jo Bang “The Wake was a Line and We Watched” (Fall 08)
Thomas Glave “The Torturer’s Wife” (Fall 2008)
David Hernandez “Mosul” (Spring 2008)
Gimbiya Kettering “Carryout” (Fall 08)
Dana Levin “Zozo-ji” (Fall 2008)
Anne Journey “Adorable Siren, Do You Love the Damned?”
(Fall 08)
Kevin Young “I Shall Be Released” (Summer 08)
George Singleton “The First to Look Away” (Fall 08)
Anne Sannow “Safety” (Winter 08)
Leslie Shipman “Girl on the Hill” (Fall 08)
Aurelia Wills “Wasps” (Summer 08)

In addition to being nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Thomas Glave’s story “The Torturer’s Wife” (Fall 2008) and Maria Eliza Hamilton Abegunde‘s “The Ariran’s Last Life” (Winter 2008) were selected by Guest Editor Nikki Giovanni for inclusion in the Best African American Fiction 2010, which will be published in the spring of 2010.

Barry Hill has published two volumes of poems this year, Necessity: Poems 1996-2006 (SOI3) and As We Draw Ourselves (Five Islands Press).

Ellen Morris Prewitt’s book Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God has just been released by Paraclete Press.

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