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Kenyon Review
NEWSLETTER | JANUARY 2018

World in a Drop: KR’s Short Fiction Contest Accepting Entries through
January 31
SFC ends January 31stThe short—really short—story can pull you in and haunt you in uncanny ways. There’s no better proof than the pieces submitted in the Kenyon Review’s annual Short Fiction Contest. Entries for this year’s contest will be accepted through January 31. The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Submissions must be 1,200 words or fewer. The winning story will be published in the Review, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2018 Writers Workshops in Gambier, Ohio. The judge this year is Melinda Moustakis, author of Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award. Click here to read the full submission guidelines and submit your story.

Summer Writers Workshops: Apply Now!
Writers WorkshopI learned so much about craft . . .”

“I don’t want to leave!”

“The well-considered assignments, the fabulous instructors, the generative format, the community of writers . . . I can’t think of another place where I could have such a phenomenal week of writing.

Writers in every stage of development, from avid amateurs to MFA graduates, flourish in the KR Summer Writers Workshops. Applications are now open for the 2018 workshops—and we have a rolling admissions process, so it pays for you to apply early.

This year there are more workshop choices than ever. Uniting them is our “generative” approach: you dive into utterly new work, in small classes (maximum of ten students) with instructors who can give you close attention, both in class sessions and individually. It’s always exhilarating—and you come away with fresh material to polish and, as often happens with our students, publish.

Whether you write prose or poetry, we have a workshop you’ll enjoy. And if you write plays, consider our unique Kenyon Review Playwrights Conference, which offers morning seminars led by literary managers from powerhouse international theater companies, time to write in the afternoon, and the chance to hear your scenes read aloud in the evening.

Come for your personal goals. Come for the camaraderie. Come for the tranquil campus setting. We’ll give you a writing boot camp that’s also a writing vacation.

Click on the links below, and apply soon!

June 10-16, 2018
Playwrights Conference

June 16-23, 2018
Fiction
Literary Nonfiction
Poetry
Nature Writing
Summer Seminars

July 7-12, 2018
Writers Workshop for Teachers

July 7-14, 2018
Fiction
Hybrid Writing
Literary Nonfiction
Poetry
Spiritual Writing
Translation

Learn more about the KR Writers Workshops.

And That Goes for the Young Writers Workshop, Too!
Young WritersThe Kenyon Review is now accepting applications for its Young Writers Workshop, which immerses high school students (ages 16 to 18) in two intensive summer weeks of writing—and writing, and fun, and writing, and sharing, and rewriting—under the guidance of inspiring teachers, among kindred spirits, on the beautiful campus of Kenyon College. The workshop sessions for 2018 are June 24-July 7, and July 15-28. Scholarships are available for those who demonstrate financial need. The application deadline is March 1. To learn more, visit the Young Writers website and watch a video about the program.

Why We Chose It: Book Reviews
BY ADAM CLAY, RICHIE HOFMANN, AND COREY VAN LANDINGHAM, BOOK REVIEW EDITORS
The KR book review editors celebrate “the passion and deep attention of our reviewers,” the “gift of careful reading,” and the kinds of queries that catch their attention.

I’m very interested in how a reviewed book functions within larger frameworks, whether they be social, political, or perhaps a bit of both. I want to see how a book engages with a particular tradition. I want to see if it contributes in some way. Or does it seek to break away? Nothing exists in a vacuum, and the book review is the perfect genre to consider a book’s role in these larger, timely conversations. Read the rest of “Why We Chose It.”

The Jan/Feb 2018 Issue Arrives, with Poetry from Cuba
Jan/Feb 2018The new issue of the Kenyon Review features a special section called “Generation Zero: New Cuban Poetry,” introducing English-language readers to eleven younger poets who transcend the preconceptions and platitudes sometimes associated with the island nation. Think beyond the reductive categories of “dissident intellectual” and “official intellectual,” write translator Katherine M. Hedeen and poet Víctor Rodríguez-Núñez in their introduction to the section, adding that Cuban poetry has rarely been “more varied, innovative, critical, and attractive” than it is today. Also featured in the Jan/Feb issue is “Lionel, for Worse,” by David Greendonner, the winner of KR’s 2017 Short Fiction Contest. Rounding out the issue are stories by the contest runners-up, Kimberly King Parsons and Lorain Urban, as well as fiction by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, Hannah H. Kim, Jessica Roeder, and T.S. Dillon. Subscribe or order a print or digital copy today!

The “You Must Thole” T-Shirt
Colm ToibinThe word “thole”—to endure suffering—occasioned a whimsical but insightful moment in the keynote lecture by Colm Tóibín at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival on November 11. Tóibín came to the Kenyon campus in Gambier, Ohio, as the winner of the Review’s 2017 Award for Literary Achievement. In the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture, the acclaimed Irish writer spoke about how the idea for his novel Brooklyn grew out of his struggles in writing Nora Webster, and he read moving scenes from both novels. Tóibín had received the award two days earlier at a Review fundraising gala in New York City, where he also spoke, this time about the importance for him of the poets and critics associated with the early years of the Kenyon Review. Listen to the Award Dinner lecture or Listen to the Literary Festival keynote.

Resistance, Change, Survival: “What Is the Role of Art under Authoritarianism” by Matthew Salesses
Matthew SalessesI have thought a lot about the purpose of writing. In her book on the craft of the Asian American novel, Tiger Writing, Gish Jen remarks on how reluctant American novelists are to have a purpose for their writing, to write with a goal, political or otherwise. This is drilled out of us in most MFA programs. The political novel is seen as a lesser art form, in favor of “art for art’s sake.” . . . . I have also thought a lot about why we believe art does not have a purpose. I suspect it is about audience. Have we been conditioned to write for an audience who takes its identity for granted, so much so that it believes art is universal rather than particular? Read the rest of this essay, in which Salesses—author of the novel The Hundred-Year Flood—reflects on his own identity as a Korean American adoptee and how the last presidential election threw into relief his questions about audience, identity, and purpose.

New in KR Podcasts
KR PodcastPoet, editor, and Kenyon alumna Saskia Hamilton talks to Kenyon Professor of Religious Studies Royal Rhodes about Robert Lowell, the importance of silence, and Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. Listen to it!

From KROnline: “Sensitive Boy”
BY IRA SUKRUNGRUANG
Ira SukrungruangMy mother sewed at the same sewing machine, overlooking the same neighborhood, listening to the same Thai folk music cassette tape. She sewed only two types of clothes: nurse’s uniforms or elaborate Thai dresses. Change was something we did not take to well. It affected the rhythm of our day, my mood. This was how my immigrant family operated. We followed schedules because schedules were dependable, schedules gave us direction, schedules were safe. Read the entire essay.

From the KR Blog: American Sonnets
BY DORA MALECH
December 7, 2017
Dora MalechThe Hayes-curated 2014 [Best American Poetry] anthology . . . opens with an unconventional sonnet by Sherman Alexie, a kind of sonnet/prose poem hybrid, “Sonnet, with Pride.” Alexie’s poem is an “American” sonnet in so many ways: its unconventionality and subversion of form, and its subject matter, the first of its fourteen numbered parts beginning: “1. In 2003, during the Iraq War, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid.” Read the sixth installment of Malech’s series on Terrance Hayes.

A Micro-Conversation with Monica Sok
Monica SokSok’s poem, “Ask the Locals,” appears in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of the Kenyon Review.

What was your original impetus for writing “Ask the Locals”?

Early on, I made up rules for my work because I was tired of attaching myself to a narrative of trauma. . . . it’s painful to constantly engage with trauma head on, even in poems. The rule was: Do not give perpetrators of genocide any room in your lexicon, not even their names. . . . I continue to struggle with the ways I might potentially perpetuate trauma for myself by the sheer act of writing. In “Ask the Locals,” I established mosquitoes as a common reference to the Khmer Rouge, and by writing about mosquitoes . . . I didn’t have to say the name “Khmer Rouge” so many times. Read the entire interview.

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The Kenyon Review is supported in part by generous grants from the Ohio Arts Council,
the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Smart Family Foundation.
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