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Young Writers, Part Two

Week one is done, and the workshops roll on. To bring you up speed—since the last post, we’ve started working on pieces in a substantial spectrum–from pieces that spring from each writer’s name, to pieces that ask the writer to explicitly write about something they don’t know. Dragons and Hogwarts are off-limits. They’ve generated lists of rules that they are asked to live by, (sometimes quite lengthy), chosen a few of those rules, and mischievously broken them in writing. Often with unnerving intent. Often with a good piece of writing packaged around that content–and at the very least, a piece of writing that they want to share out loud with our group.

They’ve written poems with a borrowed line, and written 250 word short short stories. They’ve imagined a character who is able to talk to the author, and written it (Macbeth berating Shakespeare because he wanted to be a shepherd, Henry asking Berryman to consider all the community service work that he has completed, etc.)

They’ve written a story with a character that a classmate made up for them; I made Tessa Wagman, a Research and Development associate for Casio Keyboards, with a secret–she sends Billy Joel a mash note every week. The story I got back was that Tessa can actually hear snow falling, and the writer had put such lyric investment into the piece, I was floored. And humbled.

We’ve had these gems crop up in read pieces–and managed to catch them and write them on our walls:

“I want something that makes your mouth jealous the minute you say it”

“geese-licked”

“molars tucked in the tornado alley of Bill’s mouth”

“the sartorially bland splendor of Indiana”

“rain like hemispheres splashing my glasses”

In less exciting words–there has been much worth noting. As the comfort level picks up, the students take more risks–and by this time, each student has taken at least one notable risk–the tough guys writing legitimate tender moments into their pieces, the shy girls writing about something where true love is no where in sight, not even in the vicinity of the poem. All of them are leaving behind the prescriptive, didactic voice for a conflict, an image, a metaphor. (Okay, not all the time–but we’re getting better.)

They’ve had an all-star cast of writers here to read for them: P.F. Kluge,
Writer-in-Residence at Kenyon; G.C. Waldrep, Visiting Assisant Professor at Kenyon; Nancy Zafris, the fiction editor for KR; and Dan Laskin, the Director of Publications for Kenyon. Each night has been great, and each reader has had explicit advice for the writers–from avoiding dream sequences to trusting your vision.
The weekend is their first extended period of unstructured writing time–and they need to be pushing things they’ve started in the workshops, revising what they are working on, readying them, so that they’ve got something for their own readings that will happen next week.

The momentum right now is self-perpetuating–fingers crossed that effort keeps spawning effort, that good writing keeps becoming more and more of the same…

About the Program

The Kenyon Review Associates Program provides Kenyon students with valuable experience in literary editing, publishing, and programming. KR Associates work closely with Kenyon Review staff, gaining valuable experience in a number of editing, publishing, and programming areas including manuscript evaluation, publicity and marketing, copy editing, developing web site and social media content, outreach programming, event planning and promotion, and other creative and editorial projects

KR Associates attend regular seminars conducted by Kenyon Review editorial staff, visiting readers, and publishing industry professionals. These seminars cover a wide range of topics including editorial philosophy, evaluation of submissions, print and electronic production, marketing, and design.

KR Associates enjoy also enjoy exclusive access to visiting writers and speakers, free issues of The Kenyon Review, and valuable work experience and employment references.

This program is made possible through an initiative of the Kenyon Review, part of the mission of which is to contribute to the enrichment of the academic, cultural, and artistic life of the Kenyon College community.

Requirements and Expectations

  • Submission Evaluation: All Associates are required to read and evaluate eight Kenyon Review submissions per week. Associates who are not able to complete their weekly submission assignments for more than two weeks in a row may not be allowed to continue in the program.
  • Trainings and Seminars: In-person attendance is mandatory at all trainings and seminars. We plan on scheduling six to eight seminars per semester, and most will take place on Thursdays during common hour.
  • Literary Engagement: Associates are expected to participate in literary events on campus and throughout the local community.

Application Details

The application deadline for the 2023-24 program has passed. Applications for the 2024-25 program will open in the fall of 2024. Please check back then for more details.

Questions? Please contact Tory Weber for more information.