KR Invests in Young Writers
The Kenyon Review will distribute a record $104,000 in scholarships to 89 high school students who will attend its Young Writers workshops this summer, thanks to the generous support of many foundations and individual donors.
Enrollments for the Young Writers program remained strong this year, as KR received nearly 300 applications for the program’s two sessions. Each session will enroll 90 students in intensive writing workshops that meet three times each day for two weeks during June and July. Students from 38 states and 7 foreign countries plan to attend this year’s program.
Generous funding from the Surdna Foundation (Ohio students), the Fertel Foundation (New Orleans students), the New York Times Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation, the Schuler Foundation (Chicago students), and Memphis Prep (Tennessee students), as well as individual donors allowed KR to make scholarship support available to many talented young writers this year. A number of donors contributed through a highly successful auction held at the annual Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement dinner in New York in November.
Workshops are limited to thirteen students, ensuring individual attention. Many of the program’s instructors are former Kenyon students and KR Associates who teach at colleges and universities across the country, returning to Gambier each year to share their enthusiasm for creative writing in Young Writers workshops.
A typical day at Young Writers includes two morning workshop sessions, followed by an afternoon workshop session, then a break before dinner and readings. Each student is asked to prepare a formal reading of his or her work during the session. Many choose to spend their free time writing in the Adirondack chairs scattered around campus, or under a shady tree, or in a computer lab tucked inside the old stone classroom buildings.
At the end of the workshops, students publish an anthology of their writing. Students enjoy finding a writers community at Kenyon. As one student commented: “For two whole weeks, I was surrounded by people just as insane about writing as I am. It was the most extraordinary thing to wake up first thing in the morning, go to breakfast and talk about good literature over scrambled eggs, with nothing but writing and fun in mind for the rest of the day. It was unbelievably easy to make friends; everyone liked you, found reasons to like you, reasons to be with you…” Young Writers is an experience students remember for years to come.
KR also offers workshops for adults. These workshops are designed for both beginning and seasoned writers in poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction.
For more information about KR’s workshops, please click here.
Click here to view a short film about the Young Writers program created by Young Writers alumnus James Flaherty.
Three years ago I was making a living as a realtor. The market was on fire. Even a newcomer like me could move houses. All I had to do was pull up to the curb in my car, pose in the yard by the For Sale sign and await my clients. Other potential buyers would usually be leaving as my folks arrived. I simply waited for the bidding war to begin. It got so easy for those few months that I stopped dressing for success in high heels and a suit. One day towards the end I stood on the sidewalk in jogging pants and a T-shirt. More unsavory, my T-shirt was still wet with perspiration. I was pinching it away from my throat, shaking it out to dry, when Charlotte rode up on her bicycle, followed by another woman and then a man. I took pity on Charlotte. I helped her through the closing, cutting down on my commission because this was her first house, it was shaving her dry, she’d gotten a loan she really shouldn’t have qualified for. She was very pretty, very royalty even on a bicycle with a handbell. Then there was the matter of Charlotte’s ex who wasn’t quite an ex. After the fight he put up over dowager’s rights, I’m sure I ended up losing money.
I was out of the real estate business. I had left the game right before the fall with what appeared to be foresight on my part. In actuality it was my short attention span. Another failed relationship plummeted me like the market. When I looked up, I was managing a fitness chain. Now I was encouraged to dress in sweats. I didn’t. I was a very tall woman. I looked like a basketball coach. One Saturday during a membership drive Bea Suffolk called me at the club. How she knew where I was working I didn’t know, but Bea Suffolk was a digger. She had been the agent for the owners who had sold their house to Charlotte. I said—the words a complete shock to me—“This is about Charlotte, isn’t it? She’s dead.”
“I wish,” Bea said.
I agreed to meet Bea for Sunday lunch. I was five minutes early but Bea was already there with a glass of wine. She was always early, always prepared. She was a digger.
I was shocked when I saw her.
Click here to finish the story
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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.
Alice Hoffman will be reading aloud from her new novel The Story Sisters as she travels around the country this summer.
KR offers its congratulations to Fanny Howe, the 2005 Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College, who has won the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.
Lisa Russ Spaar has won a 2009/2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.
Willard Spiegelman’s Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, was published by FSG in May.
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Poem in your Pocket Day
Pardon me, but is that “The Wasteland” in your pocket? Poems were strung on clotheslines along Middle Path and KR associates encouraged all on campus to pocket one. Scenes below from our soggy but enthusiastic PIYP day celebration.
Walking Like An Oak
April 24, 2009
“A cypress,” wrote a sensible Russian early this century, “streams upward (Gesture), and has a quiet, positive, concentrated character (Quality); whereas, the old, many-branched oak, rising upward and sideways (Gesture), will speak to us of a violent, uncontrolled, broad character (Quality).” This Russian—actor and director Michael Chekhov (Anton’s nephew, if you wondered)—wrote that the actor’s foremost physical discipline must be to observe, and then to inhabit, the forms around him. “Each leaf, stone, rock, remote mountain range, cloud, brook, wave, will speak to us about Gestures and Qualities that are contained in them.”
Should poets, too, inhabit forms? Maybe because it’s harder to score than music, choreography isn’t connected often enough to poetics. (Or maybe it’s that one Victorian who trashed the conversation.) A dancer friend taught me once about proprioception; now I see touch and internal balance—rather than counterpoint and harmony—in my favorite arts.
KR celebrates the Cheever Room
April was a busy month! KR hosted or partnered in six readings in our freshly open-for-business reading space, the Cheever Room.
The Cheever Room is a new reading, workshop and classroom space constructed as part of the renovation of Finn House, KR’s new home on the Kenyon College campus. Construction of the Cheever Room was funded by the Lucille and Paul Maslin Foundation, and by Kenyon parents Janet Maslin, book critic for the New York Times, and Benjamin Cheever, a writer of fiction and nonfiction, who is the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Cheever.
Kenyon alumnus Daniel Mark Epstein inaugurated this new reading space, returning to Gambier to offer two readings: one from his recent collection of poetry, The Glass House, and a second from his latest book, The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage. Following Epstein, alumna Elaine Bleakney gave a reading of her own work, as well as a magical participatory reading from the new Poem in Your Pocket Anthology, featuring 200 poems that can be torn out and pocketed. Jake Adam York read his remarkable work from A Murmuration of Starlings and spoke eloquently on social justice, research, and of his project to write a poem for each of the civil rights martyrs. Ander Monson came to Kenyon as winner of the GLCA nonfiction prize and wowed a packed room with a reading from his obsessive essay collection Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, answering questions late into the evening on gaming culture and the influence of David Foster Wallace.
Andy Grace, another Kenyon alumnus, read from his award winning new collection of poems Shadeland, to an eager audience. Royal Rhodes, longtime professor of religion at Kenyon read from his sonnet series Animalia and shared the lovely small press artbook version of those poems produced by Terry Shupbach Gordon and The Catbird (On The Yadkin) Press. Last but not least, the inimitable Sarah Gridley came down from Case Western Reserve to help KR celebrate Poem in your Pocket day and read from her wonderful collection Weather Eye Open. She also shared poems from a new book due out from the University of California Press in 2010.
If you are nearby Gambier, Ohio, stay tuned to the “News” section of the KR website for information on upcoming readings—all are free and open to the public.
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Join CLMP For Its Tenth Annual Literary Magazine Marathon Weekend
New York City, May 30th–31st
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) hosts its tenth annual literary magazine marathon weekend, May 30–31 in New York City. Events will include the Tenth Annual Literary Magazine Fair at Housing Works Used Book Café, where literary magazine publishers from across the country will converge, and “The Magathon,” CLMP’s annual marathon reading at The New York Public Library, featuring 15–20 editors reading short selections from recent issues. Both events are open to the public.
Tri-State Chapbook Contest
The Contest: Open Thread, a Pittsburgh-based literary arts organization, is currently reading manuscripts of poetry and prose for its first-ever Tri-State Chapbook Contest! Work must be submitted by June 1st, 2009. More information here.