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Kenyon Review

Why We Chose It
“Production of Silk” by Miho Nonaka appears in the Mar/Apr 2017 issue of KROnline.

Like a poet, a silkworm lives under a strange curse: when it spits, what comes out is a shimmering thread, a beauty in which it entombs itself, at the mercy of a world that covets more than it values. Miho Nonaka’s lovely lyric essay “Production of Silk” makes this analogy explicit, weaving together childhood lessons in the rough magic of raising silkworms with the silken violence of writing workshops. The common thread that she spins out in a series of brief, exquisite vignettes is the encounter with all that cannot be translated—within language, within culture, within our hearts as we wind ourselves into the “unearthly room” of our own longing. Read the rest of “Why We Chose It.”

Happy 100th Birthday, Robert Lowell!
Robert LowellKR pulls out the stops this month to salute Robert “Cal” Lowell on his centenary birthday. A student of John Crowe Ransom and a 1940 graduate of Kenyon College, Lowell is of course widely recognized as a seminal figure in Modern American poetry, twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. A gala birthday tribute in Gambier on March 1st featured readings of Lowell’s work by students and community members. Onward to the next century, Cal! Read a meditation on Lowell’s birthday by Kenyon College Professor of Classics, Carolin Hahnemann.

Growth Spurt for KR Summer Programs
We’re delighted to announce an imminent expansion of the Kenyon Review summer programs as we welcome into the KR family a variety of exciting programming known until now as the Kenyon Institute. In addition to the creative writing summer workshops for adults and high school students for which you already know us, future offerings will draw on the Institute’s profession-based writing programs in biomedical research, playwriting, writing in new media for clergy, and the Summer Seminar, a great books course. To learn more about 2017 summer offerings, follow these links: Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Young Writers at Kenyon, and the programs of the Kenyon Institute. Stay tuned for future announcements!

“The most fun I’ve ever had in class!”: KR’s Nature Writing Workshop
JULY 8-15, 2017
Nature WritingIf you enjoy writing poems or essays about the environment, come explore nature’s wonders in this inquiring, imaginative workshop. During morning workshops, instructor David Baker guides the class through pastoral, bucolic, idyllic, and sublime poems and essays on the page. In the afternoon, biology professors lead field explorations in the lush Ohio countryside surrounding Kenyon College. Walk the prairie, hold a blue bird, learn the language of fireflies, and observe nature’s complex beauty in detail. Through this combination of workshop and field studies, you’ll learn to engage description and to find new metaphors. One of last year’s participants proclaimed “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in class!” Find more information and application instructions here.

Mar/Apr 2017 Special Issue of KR Now Out!
Mar/Apr 2017Head down under with an exciting issue of KR featuring contemporary Australian literature across genres. As guest editor John Kinsella writes in his introduction, “Literature is language, and language is liberation, and herein we have poems, stories, and an essay that use language to its fullest, that bend the rules and offer new points of departure.” Enjoy brilliant new fiction by Kim Scott, Tony Birch, Paddy O’Reilly, and more; provocative nonfiction by David Brooks; and scintillating poetry by Bella Li, Jaya Savige, Ouyang Yu, and many more. Subscribe or order a print copy today!

New in KR Podcasts
KR PodcastThis month poet Solmaz Sharif, author of LOOK, and Editor at Large Andrew Grace discuss poetry’s responsibility to be politically engaged. Sharif insists, in response to the argument that “art will improve under Trump,” that freedom is the only force that will make art better, and explains how form can be used as a means of opposing American imperialism. Listen to it!

From KROnline: “A Fever That Escalates With Every Blow”: Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight
White BlightIt’s a unique sort of despair to be Middle Eastern and living in a Western nation in 2017. Amid the European migrant crisis and the rampant xenophobia it’s engendered, amid the hate-mongering of the Trump presidency and its normalization of Islamophobic rhetoric, amid the new immigrant bans and the ramifications of such unchecked bigotry, it really does seem like a particularly horrifying moment in history—horrifying, as in Kurtz-on-the-boat “the horror, the horror”-ifying. Read the rest of this review

Winter in Dunbarton
Kenyon Review Cover Winter 1946From the Kenyon Review, Winter 1946, Vol. VIII, No. 1

On the occasion of Robert Lowell’s centenary we revisit “Winter in Dunbarton,” the earliest of several poems set among the family burial grounds. Lowell republished this poem the same year in Lord Weary’s Castle (1946), his second volume of poetry and the first of two to win the Pulitzer Prize. Lowell returned to this setting in “Sailing Home from Rapallo” and “Dunbarton,” both in Life Studies (1959); indeed, it was to Dunbarton, the home of his own gravesite, that he ultimately returned. In a 1998 revaluation of Lowell’s early KR publications including “Winter in Dunbarton,” Richard Tillinghast reminds us that Ransom wrote of his young student to Allen Tate that Lowell was “a fine boy, very definitely with great literary possibilities.”

Time smiling on this sundial of a world
Corrupted the snow-monster and the worm,
Ransacker of shard statues and the peers
Of Europe; but our cat is cold, is curled
For rigor mortis: she no longer smears
Her catnip mouse from Christmas; the germ,
Mindless and ice, a world against our world,
Hurtles her round of brains into her ears;

Read the rest of “Winter in Dunbarton.”

From the KR Blog: An Interview with Natalie Diaz
February 8, 2017
Natalie DiazLeslie Contreras Schwartz: You write about your family and your community, and the effects of generations of violence and oppression on their physical bodies in the form of addiction, diabetes, malnutrition, disease. How is a writing a form of solace against these experiences, or is it?

Natalie Diaz: Writing is an extension of my body. I am seeking the body on the page, even the broken body, even the ecstatic body—even the broken and ecstatic body. I am looking for a field for the body to run in. I am looking for a field where the body might be struck down. I am looking for a field where the body might rest or hide or flee or reap or build a house or set a fire. The body doesn’t want solace—the body wants to be possible.
Read the rest of the interview.

A Micro-Conversation with Shara Lessley
Shara LessleyShara Lessley’s poem “Letter to Bruce in Paradise, Indiana” appeared with another poem in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of the Kenyon Review.

What was your original impetus for writing “Letter to Rania in Amman”?

I’d already written “Letter to Bruce in Paradise, Indiana” for The Explosive Expert’s Wife (which meditates on the years I lived in the Middle East) and knew the poem needed a counterpart, one that would appear later in the book. In some ways, Bruce and Rania mirror each other. Although the geographical perspectives in the poems are reversed, the epistolary mode establishes intimacy from the get-go. . . . As a poet—as an American expat—I’m very mindful of how I write about the people of Jordan, as well as the place. Writing from an outsider’s perspective is fraught with risks—appropriation, inclination to romanticize the material, or render someone or someplace as the exotic other. In this case, I wanted to write a love letter without objectifying my friend or reducing her to a cultural token. Read the rest of the 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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