Why We Chose it
By David Lynn, Editor
On “Ghosts” by Jaquira Díaz
Love in a time of war—one of literature’s most ancient, most lasting, themes. And “Ghosts” thrusts its dramatic tensions upon us right from the start: “Three weeks before we pull the body from the river, I find Kofi waiting for me behind our camp. . . . ” These first two clauses sweep over us with both the anticipatory suspense of knowing there’s a body to be found and this implicitly sinister Kofi found waiting for the narrator. There’s a story here all right, and I’m hooked, at least enough to keep me reading.
The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest opens Feb. 1st
Have a piece of unpublished short fiction of 1200 words or fewer? Submit to the Seventh Annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest
any day during the month of February. The contest is open to writers who have not published a book of fiction. The winning story and two runners-up will be published in The Kenyon Review
, and the winning writer will receive a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop
. Entry fee of $18 includes a one-year subscription to KR
or extends your existing subscription by a year. Katharine Weber, the Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College and author of five critically-acclaimed novels, including Triangle
and True Confections
, will be the final judge. Go short and good luck!
The Kenyon Review celebrates 75 years!
Dodranscentennial. Three quarters of a century. However you choose to say it, KR
is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and we’re pulling out all the stops. To honor this milestone, we’re reviving an initiative begun by founding editor John Crowe Ransom, who in the late 1950s commissioned the Kenyon Review Credos
, a series of essays in which prominent critics and public intellectuals of the day explored the values and philosophies informing their critical practice. In tribute to Mr. Ransom, and with the generous support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, KR
will publish throughout this year a new series of Kenyon Review Credos, this time written by established and emerging fiction writers, poets, and essayists. Four will appear in print and twelve more online. Cumulatively, these artists reflect the diversity of today’s literary world as they share their core beliefs about the art and craft of writing. Enjoy!
Look for our Winter 2014 issue
The newest issue is out! In it you’ll find selections from Joyce Carol Oates
, Carl Phillips
, Timothy Liu
, and C. Dale Young
, the winning stories from the 2013 Short Fiction Contest
, and much, much more! The full-color cover features a detail of Ellen Priest’s painting titled “Jazz: Edward Simon’s Venezuelan Suite #10,” the vibrant tension between musical composition and improvisation made visual. Close-ups of Priest’s jazz-inspired images will appear on all four of our 75th-anniversary covers this year.
National Book Award winner
Congratulations to Mary Szybist
, winner of a 2013 National Book award for Incarnadine
, her masterful second collection of poems, a volume exploring the nuances of the Biblical Mary for our time. Szybist is a Kenyon Review
contributor and has taught in the Writers Workshop.
Apply now for the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop!
A summer week at the KR Writers Workshop
repays you with inspiration, motivation, and writing to work on all year long. For 2014 we’re expanding our offerings to seven workshops: fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, online writing, literary hybrid/book arts, the novel, and a writers workshop for teachers. Workshops are scheduled for June 14-21 or June 28-July 3, 2014. The application site is now open. Don’t miss out!
Apply now for the Young Writers Workshop!
The Kenyon Review
is now accepting applications for its Young Writers Workshop
, a creative writing adventure for 16-18 year-olds in Gambier, Ohio. Two sessions will be offered this summer: June 22-July 5 and July 13-26. Young Writers is an intensive two-week workshop for intellectually curious high-school students who value writing. KR
’s goal is to help students develop their creative and critical abilities with language—to become better writers and more insightful thinkers
Throughout our 75th anniversary year, we’ll be reproducing the original KR Credos as the newsletter’s archival piece, both in tribute to Mr. Ransom’s foresight in commissioning them and because these essays still have so much to say to us about the core values of literature and criticism. We hope you enjoy the Credos, whether you’re reacquainting yourself with them or meeting them for the first time.
The Kenyon Review, Autumn 1950, Vol. XII, No. 4
Toward an Amateur Criticism
by Leslie A. Fiedler
Looking back over my own brief critical practice, I find that it has been rather consistently based on presuppositions fashionably called “obscurantist.” Though not always consciously, I have been searching for strategies to oppose that “scientific criticism whose methods are mining, digging or just plain grubbing,” and which assumes that the work of art is essentially a social function or a function of language, amenable to analysis in terms of the currently honorific vocabularies of various sciences.
The Kenyon Review Credos:
The Glory of the Bad Idea
by Caitlin Horrocks
Whatever we do on the page, those of us who are both writers and teachers of beginning creative writing generally find ourselves emphasizing orthodoxies in the classroom: that someone or something should change. That characters should be round, or that stories need characters at all. That desire + obstacle = conflict = plot. We want students to get a grip on what a “literary” short story is, and then we want to help them write one with only the minimum required amount of pain and suffering.
Trying to Conjugate Displacement
For several years now, I’ve wanted to translate portions of Ketab-e Kuche—
most literally “The Book of the Alley,” but most akin in English to “The Book of the Street.” A multi-volume part-encyclopedia, part-dictionary of Persian lexicon and folklore, it was spearheaded by one of the most significant Iranian poets of the last century, Ahmad Shamlu. I have an obsession with lexicography myself
, and the idea of reading a dictionary compiled mostly by a poet, who is compiling precisely the language I cannot access into what promises to be the most impossible type of text to translate, has held my interest more than any other work of potential translation.
A Micro-Interview with Jaquira Díaz
Jaquira Díaz’s story “Ghosts” can be found in the Winter 2014 issue of The Kenyon Review
Can you identify the seed of inspiration of your story “Ghosts”? What was the hardest part about writing it?
As with almost everything I write, “Ghosts” started with place. I wanted to write about Suriname, where my abuela’s grandmother was from. Unfortunately I had nothing but my abuela’s stories, which were mostly about Puerto Rico. So I imagined this fictional setting that was meant to resemble Suriname, and that’s when it hit me: I created this fictional place, I owned it, which meant I could do whatever I wanted with it. So I changed its name and bombed it—like a terrible dictator—and then a story started to emerge. Eventually the characters took over. Ramos, a U.S. Marine—who happens to be based on a real person—and Vega, the main character. The story took me more than a year to write. I kept abandoning it, returning to it, reimagining it. It was the place—it refused to let me go, so I kept coming back. After I finished this story, I wrote more stories. Eventually, those stories turned into a project, a polyphonic novel.