Kenyon Review Young Writers: An exercise in identity and growth

Sarah Miller
July 7, 2014
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Not too long after successfully surviving your teens, those years can seem a lifetime away. Many who have crossed the threshold find it difficult to recall their teens, especially with any sort of positivity. But today I invite you to be brave, to step back into your teenage self and imagine the excitement two hundred high school students are feeling this summer about the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. For students interested in reflection—on the self and on the world—the supportive network of fellow writers and the safe environment created in the rural haven of Gambier fosters a beautiful summer escape.

Prompt: Recall the days of teenage angst and its self-orbiting lens, and generate a piece of reflective writing that illustrates, shouts out loud, the confused mix of pure creative talent, social expectation, and emotional turmoil you felt on a daily basis. Funnel all of that into one poem, one story, one essay. Experiment with new language. For the first time, engage in the five senses outside your own head, and allow the full experience to fall into words on your page.

Restrictions: You have two weeks. If you wish to utilize colorful language, double-check its meaning. Curfew is 11:00 pm.

Requirements: Attend each workshop and respect your peers’ work. Submit yourself to be vulnerable while reading your poem, story, or essay aloud. Form a bond with your classmates, with your hall mates, with your workshop leaders. This will bridge the wide chasm of understanding you previously thought existed between yourself and the rest of the emotive world. After these two weeks, reflect again. Crave the potato triangles served for breakfast. Think about the time you stayed up to witness the fireflies of late-Ohio June. Remember the cautioning to use bug spray and the sparks of the bonfire your roommate composed a song about. Hear the applause and cheering your peers gave you during the final readings, and echo that enthusiasm to another aspiring writer. Lastly, do not believe people when they say you have romanticized your two weeks at the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. Your two weeks possessed a sort of magic you will hold on to for the rest of your writing career.

Each summer, the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop welcomes high school students from around the globe to Kenyon College’s campus. Bringing together writers from many diverse backgrounds to share in the community of the Kenyon Review catalyzes an inspirational and memorable experience for all involved.

Sarah Miller is a Kenyon College senior in the Class of 2015 majoring in International Studies with a minor in Arabic. She currently serves as the Kenyon Review Summer Programs intern.

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